August 26 of each year is designated in the United States as Women's Equality Day. Instituted by Rep. Bella Abzug and first established 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.
In 1973, Congresswoman Bella Abzug helped establish Women's Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, which gave women in the United States full voting rights.
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.
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.”
This 1948 stamp was issued on the 100th anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, and shows (L-R) Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott.
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.
Dressed like Joan of Arc on a white horse, Inez Milholland Boissevain, a New York attorney, led a group of women all dressed in white. Here she is on horseback at the Women's Equality March in Washington D.C., 1913
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.
From the MY HERO Library
Check out our timeline of the many heroes who helped bring about women's equality, including: the Grimké sisters, Margaret Fullers, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony , Harriet Tubman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Victoria Woodhull, Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, Inez Milholland Boissevain, Jeanette Rankin, and Bella Abzug!
Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Use the MY HERO Calendar in the Classroom
Organizer created on 8/16/2012 5:20:48 PM by Becky Miller
Last edited 7/29/2019 3:19:42 PM by Xenia Shin