Women’s Equality Day

Women's Equality Day graphic

Women’s Equality Day is a celebration of the nineteenth amendment to the constitution which gave women the right to vote.

This amendment was passed in 1920 and it banned states and the federal government from withholding the right to vote based on sex. This was a historic amendment and a massive victory for the cause of women across the nation. The right to vote is fundamental to the democratic process and it meant that political candidates had to take women’s issues seriously when running for office. Women became political representatives with the ability to influence the outcome of elections and as a result, the course of the nation.

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated every year on August 26th to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the nineteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States based on sex. 

History of Women’s Equality Day 

The suffragette (a woman campaigning for the right to vote through organized protest action) movement in the United States achieved its goal on August 26th, 1920, when Bainbridge Colby, the Secretary of State at the time, signed the proclamation which granted American women access to the vote. The day became a celebration in 1971 after the Women’s Strike for Equality the previous year. Congresswoman Bella Abzug, of New York, introduced a proclamation which would officially designate the day as Women’s Equality Day in 1971 and then again in 1973 as national battles over the Equal Rights Amendment continued.  

President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation in 1972 which designated the day as Women’s Rights Day and this was the first official recognition of the day. Later, in 1973, Congress approved the resolution and August 26th officially became Women’s Equality Day. In addition, the president is both authorized and requested to issue his or her own proclamation commemorating the day. Since Nixon, every American president has declared August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.  

Ways to Celebrate and Honor Women’s Equality Day 

  • Thank the women in your life – always a good idea to take time for all they do for you and others! Perhaps give a handmade card or host a happy hour or lunch date walk. 
  • Support women-owned businesses – you can find lists of women-owned businesses via the Small Business Association website or by talking with your local chamber of commerce. Be active on your community social as well to see when owners post and promote their products and businesses to support. Find some of those local ones here.
  • Register to vote – Women and their allies fought for decades to win the right to vote. You can help honor their sacrifices by registering to vote where you live.  

You’ll find a local show presented by Voices of American HERstory, “Toward Women’s Equality – From Rotten Eggs to Respect” held at the Campbell House on Saturday, August 26th. Click for information.

The St. Louis County Library offers a suggested list of books to reading about the fight for women’s rights, from the suffrage movement to today. Click for information.