August 26th is designated in the United States as Women's Equality Day. Instituted by Rep. Bella Abzug in 1971, the date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment--the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave U.S. women full voting rights in 1920.
Suffrage is the right to vote in a political election. Prior to the 19th Amendment in 1920, women in the United States did not have the right to vote. Hence, someone who peacefully campaigned for equal rights for women was known as a suffragist.
The development of the 19th century suffragist movement can be seen to begin when women began to be able to pray aloud in church. It also grew out of the Abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement. Suffragism and Abolitionism had a close and complicated history.
Many suffragist women political and intellectual leaders came out of the Abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement, as they were allowed to speak publicly in these circles in the 1830s.
Watch this short student-produced film, Women's Equality Day, to learn more about the importance of the 19th Amendment and the history of Women's Equality Day.
1848 | The Seneca Falls Convention
Lucretia Mott was a powerful orator, and drew crowds; Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann M'Clintock were more of the behind-the-scenes organizers of the first convention devoted to women's rights.
Mott wrote a "Declaration of Sentiments" based on the Declaration of Independence, and a resolution to fight for women's causes--which controversially included the women's right to vote. As we will see, Frederick Douglass played a key role in ensuring women's right to vote remained in the resolution.
"Eight years later in Seneca Falls, New York, Mott and Stanton, along with Mott's younger sister, Martha Coffin Wright, fulfilled the pledge they had made to each other in London and held the first woman's rights convention in America.”
Suffragists continued to challenge the cultural ideas of a woman's role in society and the family, while lobbying the US government to enshrine women's rights in law.
1866 | Frances Ellen Watkins Harper demands the right to vote for black women
1878 | The 19th Amendment is introduced in Congress
1916 | The National Women's Party is Established
Burns and Paul met in England and become lifelong friends, fighting for women's rights. They had disagreements with the NAWSA, and created their own party.
The National Women's Party was considered a more radical suffragist group. They wanted to bring the militant tactics of the British suffragettes to the US by staging protests, rather than just petitioning Congress to pass the 19th Amendment.
Alice Paul was a suffragist and leader for the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. She picketted the White House and organized boycotts.
This short documentary is a window into the Women's Suffrage Movement through the sacrifice of an American Amazon who will inspire today’s woman as much as she did 100 years ago.
Nannie Burroughs [holding banner 'Banner State Woman's National Baptist Convention' ] and African-American women [between 1905 and 1915].
Rankin was part of the successful effort to give women the right to vote in her home state of Montana, which was passed in 1914. In 1917, when she became a member of Congress, she helped create the Committee on Woman Suffrage and was on the special committee. This committee reported out the 19th Amendment for women's suffrage. Rankin was able to get this on the House Floor for a debate in 1918, the first time it was ever debated. It did not pass, however, until 1920.
Jeanette Rankin, the first Congresswoman, fought for suffrage, equal pay, child welfare, laws to protect working women, and birth control and introduced the first debate on unrestricted voting rights to women.
1920 | Ratification of the 19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920 and stated: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
1970 | National Women's Equality Day is Established to Commemorate the Ratification of the 19th Amendment
Abzug was a leader of the Second Wave Feminist movement that started in the 1960s. As a Congresswoman, she established Women's Equality Day. Women's Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment -- the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- on August 26, 1920, which gave U.S. women full voting rights.
Bella Abzug was a New York Congresswoman who fought for women's rights and instituted Women's Equality Day.
Catlett is an American graphic artist and sculptor. She was born and raised in Washington D.C. to parents working in education. She is the granddaughter of freed slaves and is of Mexican descent. Her work is best known for the depictions of the female African-American experience in the 20th century U.S.
Other Influential Suffragettes
From the MY HERO Library
Equality for Women in the 21st Century
These present-day heroes follow their passions in supporting and pursuing women's rights and equality, both globally and in their own communities.
Advocators for Women and Girls Education
Malala Yousafzai - Young Activist for Female Education
Malala is the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and on June 19, 2020, she received her degree from Oxford University.
MY HERO Suggested Video
Malala Yousafzai | The Youngest Nobel Prize Winner | #SeeHer Story by Katie Couric
At only 22 years old, Malala Yousafzai has made a name for herself as one of the most influential champions of female education in the world.
Samar Khan - 'The Woman who Changed the World'
Samar Khan, of Vital Voices, is a filmmaker, anthropologist and activist who has spent years using film and other mediums to promote social change in Pakistan, predominantly advocating for women and children’s causes.
Hero Stories curated by MY HERO General Editors Deborah Neff and Abigail Richardson.
Organizer created on 8/16/2012 5:20:48 PM by Becky Miller
Last edited 7/14/2023 7:55:47 AM by Abigail Richardson