Women’s Equality Day – 100 Years Later

Voting is the cornerstone of democracy, but women voting and other fundamental rights were enjoyed purely by male citizens. Marking 100 years later, on August 29, 1920, the 19th Amendment was officially certified, granting American women the right to vote.

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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIX

Commemorating an essential milestone in the women’s suffrage movement in this day of age Women’s Equality day is more important than ever. August 26th serves as a reminder for how far we as a society, country, and democracy have come and how now we still must go.

History of Women’s Suffrage Movement

Women generally couldn’t own property, had no legal claim over any money they earned, in any available job made less than half of a man’s wage, and had no right to vote. Encouraged to focus on a sedentary lifestyle rather than politics in the early 19th century, women began organizing and demanding representation. New Zealand, Finland, and the United Kingdom had legalized voting for women by the 1900s. It wasn’t until women’s involvement in World War 1 that the movement started to gain support. The 19th Amendment was first introduced in 1875 but never to be approved until numerous resubmittal. In 1919 both the House of Representative and Senate Approved the bill needing a two-thirds vote, and the suffragist spent the next year lobbying state legislatures to gain support. The final ballot landed on Tennessee to ratify the Amendment, and in 1920 it was signed into law on August 26. The Amendment paved the way for women to participate in American politics as leaders, candidates, voters, and citizens.

Black Women in the Suffrage Movement

Despite the passage that this amendment brought for women, it only benefited white women. The women’s suffrage movement had a controversial history with the civil rights movements. The 15th amendment gave black men the right to vote in 1870 long before the 19th amendment was ratified. Both the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements were working to gain fundamental liberties in the women’s suffrage movement racism was prevalent. Prioritizing the right to vote for white women, most people of color were barred from citizenship, black men and women faced intimidation and violent opposition at polls. The black suffrage movement continued to face discrimination as white suffragists wanted to separate their voting rights from race. Founding their groups such as the National Association of Colored Women Clubs, black women fought alongside and contributed significantly to the cause. Only until 1948 were Black and Asian women given the right to vote. Their persistence was instrumental to the ratification of the 19th amendment and is often left out in the women’s suffrage movement’s stories.

Black suffragist who fought for the 19th amendment:

Women’s Rights: We Are Not Done Fighting

We look back at some moments in history that have been prevalent to fight that many women were a part of to forever change women’s trajectory in politics.

Seneca Fall Convention
The first woman’s rights convention that started the passage into the fight to ratify the 19th amendment in 1848.

Birth Control Clinics Open in the U.S.
The first birth control clinics opened by Margaret Sanger in 1916 were raided by the government multiple times but ultimately lead the the create of what we know today as Planned Parenthood

Women Gain the Right to Vote
U.S Congress ratified the 19th amendment in 1920. American Women gain the right to vote.

Title XI
Prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of educational programs that receive federal funding in 1972..

Roe v. Wade
U.S. Supreme Court amirroment women’s constitutional right to abortion in 1973

Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Bans employment discrimination against pregnant women in 1978.

Violence against Women Act
In 1994 the act funds services for rape and domestic victims. This allows women to seek civil rights remedies and protection of gender-base related crimes.

Paycheck Fairness Act
Meant to fight gender discrimination in the workplace failed in the Senate by party line vote in 2012.

Women in Military Combat
Ban against women in military combat was removed in 2013 overturning the restrictions of women in combat roles.

The fight for equality is far from over, but Women’s Equality Day marks a movement and the struggles of the past, present, and future. August 26th marks a day of all women who pioneered the continued fight for equality in politics, work, life, and American society. Today women continue to fight politically, economically and civically. We are reminded of the work left to do to achieve equality in the United States for gender and the internationalization of race, disability, age, and sexual orientation to dismantle systems of disadvantage and discrimination. 

Feminism isn’t about girl power it’s about equal power

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Written By Gabriela Quintanilla

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