Women's Equality Day

August 26th

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.

Pictured: Nannie Helen Burroughs
Credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

What is suffrage?

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. 


Women's Equality Day

Kitty Richardson

A brief look at the journey towards Equity for Women.

1848 | The Seneca Falls Convention 

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton organize the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848

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.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)

By: Hailey Pantoja

"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.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

By: Kerri from Fredericksburg
Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Susan B. Anthony, another Woman’s Rights Activist, and they became close friends and worked as a team, to change the world for women. In 1848, with the help of Stanton and Anthony, the Married Woman’s Property Act of New York was passed. This act allowed women to be able to have custody of their children, hold property, make contracts, keep their own earnings and inheritance, and sue in court.

Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie C. Catt, Lucretia Mott Stamp

By: United States Post Office

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.

The Seneca Falls Convention was an historical turning point, marking the beginning of a national movement for women's rights in the United States. 

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

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)

By: Geeta Malik

Frances Ellen Watkins was a prolific author, poet, abolitionist and suffragist. In 1866, at the National Women's Rights Convention, she demanded equal rights for all, including Black women. She helped found the National Association of Colored Women

1878 | The 19th Amendment is introduced in Congress

The 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote was introduced into Congress in 1878 by Congressman Arthur Sargent. It was nicknamed the "Anthony Amendment," after suffragist Susan B. Anthony.

Susan B Anthony- by artist Robert Shetterly as part of his courageous series of Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits

By: Robert Shetterly

1916 | The National Women's Party is Established

1916 | Lucy Burns and Alice Paul establish the National Woman's Party (NWP) in 1916

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 (1885-1977)

By: Emma from San Diego

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.

Lucy Burns (1879-1966)

By: Dominique Canlas from Brea
Lucy Burns had spent more time in prison then any other women's activist at the time. Burns was ridiculed and yelled at because of her actions, but she stayed firm to her beliefs and ignored all the negativity.

Inez Milholland Boissevain was an iconic member of the National Women's Party

Inez Milholland Boissevain

By: unknown

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

Inez Milholland ~ Forward into Light

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 and African American Suffragists

Nannie Helen Burroughs

By: St George Thompson

Nannie Burroughs [holding banner 'Banner State Woman's National Baptist Convention' ] and African-American women [between 1905 and 1915].

Nannie Helen Burroughs
Credit: Library of Congress Public Domain

1917 | Jeanette Rankin Opens the first House Debate on Women's Right to Vote

Jeanette Rankin, first US Congresswoman

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.

Jeannette Rankin

By: Sriya Mupparaju

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. 

Votes For Women - Jeannette Rankin

By: unknown photographer


Jeannette Rankin (1880 - 1973)

By: Robert Shetterly
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. She helped pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, and was a committed pacifist.

1920 | Ratification of the 19th Amendment

1920 | Adoption 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

1971 | Rep. Bella Abzug establishes Women's Equality Day 

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 (1920-1988)

By: Kruti from New Jersey

Bella Abzug was a New York Congresswoman who fought for women's rights and instituted Women's Equality Day.

Artist Spotlight: Elizabeth Catlett

b.1915 - d.2012 | Elizabeth Catlett 

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. 

Elizabeth Catlett
Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Other Influential Suffragettes  

Emmeline Pankhurst

By: Camille from Fredericksburg
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British suffragist who was a strong influence on the women's rights movement in Britain and in the United States.

Emily Wilding Davison

By: Fiona Li

Lucy Stone

By: Abigail Richardson
Celebrating the life and work of feminist, suffragist and abolitionist, Lucy Stone.

From the MY HERO Library

Sojourner Truth: Ain''t I a Woman?

By: Patricia C. McKissack, With Fredrick L. McKissack
Synopsis In 1797, a slave named Isabe...

Brighter Coming Day: A Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Reader

By: Frances Smith Foster (Editor), Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was the best known a...

The Woman Who Ran for President: The Many Lives of Victoria Woodhull

By: Lois Beachy Underhill, Gloria Steinem (Introduction)
From the Publisher This biography of ...

Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull

By: Barbara Goldsmith
From the Publisher This is history at...

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

By: Geoffrey C. Ward, Ken Burns
From the Publisher Elizabeth Cady Sta...

Susan B. Anthony: Champion of Women''s Rights (Childhood of Famous Americans Series.)

By: Helen Albee Monsell
Annotation Focuses on the childhood o...

Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words

By: Lynn Sherr
Synopsis Juxtaposed with contemporary...

Herstory: Women Who Changed the World

By: Ruth Ashby (Editor), Deborah Gore Ohrn (Editor), Gloria Steinem (Introductio...
Synopsis Philosopher, mathematician, ...

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.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

By: Jane Wallace
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe works to end violence and sexual exploitaton in Uganda.

Hazviperi Betty Makoni

By: Wendy Jewell
Hazviperi Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to transform lives.

Advocators for Women and Girls Education

Pashtana Durrani

By: Deborah Neff
Pashtana Durrani, who received the Malala Fund Education Champion award for her work on behalf of education for Afghan girls, is determined to continue providing educational opportunities for women and girls, even if she has to resist the Taliban and go underground.

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Hero and ‘Mother of Afghan Education’

By: Abigail Richardson

Yasmine Sherif: Winner of the 2020 Global Educator Award

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Yasmine Sherif, who leads Education Cannot Wait, is the winner of MY HERO's 2020 Global Educator Award.

Sahraa Karimi

By: Deborah Neff
Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi speaks out about the future of Afghan cinema and the rights of girls and women as the Taliban takes over the country in August 2021.

2019 MY HERO Global Educator Award Winner Melinda Gates

By: Betty Bailey
Melinda Gates' women heroes in Africa and India teach her how to uplift the women in their communities through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sarah Brown, Global Health and Education Hero

By: Abigail Richardson

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.

Malala Yousafzai

By: Becky Miller
MY HERO celebrates the courage and strong principles of education advocate Malala Yousafzai, who stood up to the Taliban and fought for girls' right to education.

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.

Samar Minallah Khan, Documentary Filmmaker and Human Rights Activist

By: Abigail Richardson

OutSwing [Trailer]

Samar Minallah Khan
On the outskirts of Islamabad, a committed coach teaches a team of unlikely players, their families, and a community how playing Cricket can change lives.

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External Links

Promotes Women’s History and is committed to the goals of education, empowerment, equality, and inclusion. 

National Women's History Alliance: Women's Quality Day

Our Curators


Hero Stories curated by MY HERO General Editors Deborah Neff and Abigail Richardson.


Short films curated by MY HERO International Film Festival director Wendy Milette

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