August 26th is Women’s Equality Day! Women’s Equality Day is a day of celebration, empowerment, and remembrance. This day was created to honor women’s right to vote with the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment as well as to support women’s continuing efforts toward full equality today.
Women’s Equality Day History
On August 26th, 1970 approximately 50,000 women marched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. While celebrating this great achievement, these women were also furthering the push for women’s equality. Exactly one year later, Women’s Equality Day was brought to the U.S. Congress by Representative Bella Abzug from New York. Finally, on August 16th, 1973, Congress declared that August 26th would, from then on, be known and celebrated as Women’s Equality Day.
President Richard Nixon gave the first Women’s Equality Day Proclamation speech on that same day. Since then each president, from President Ford to President Trump, has taken the time to recognize Women’s Equality Day with words of their own.
Great Women to Celebrate on Women’s Equality Day
Who are the women’s rights activists that ignited the women’s suffrage movement and made the 19th Amendment possible? Below are a few of these great women, some well known and some hidden in history, but all important in the movement towards women equality.
Sojourner Truth was a fierce woman. In 1826, she escaped slavery with her infant daughter in tow. After gaining her freedom, she became a strong abolitionist and women’s rights activist. One of her most famous and memorable moments was her speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” given at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention.
Alice Paul was one of the most impacting women’s rights activists in American history. She joined the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and organized public events to gain attention for the movement. Alice felt that her work wasn’t yet finished with the passing of the 19th Amendment. She co-authored the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and became an important component of getting the bill passed a decade later.
Crystal Eastman worked with Alice Paul in writing of the 1923 Equal Rights Amendment. She fought for women’s right to vote and equal rights for all. Crystal helped to start the National Civil Liberties Bureau in 1917 which would later become the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Lucy Stone became one of the most famous women in America by the early 1850’s. Lucy organized women’s rights conventions and spoke on women’s rights throughout the 1840’s and 50s. Lucy’s support of allowing black men citizenship and voting rights separated her from other popular activists (Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton). This divide led her to then co-found the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). In 1870, Lucy was eager for a calmer life and dedicated her time to co-founding and editing the Woman’s Journal. The Women’s Journal became an important role in invigorating the suffrage movement and eventually the passing of the 19th Amendment.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett spent her life fighting for civil and women’s rights. She actively spoke out about women’s rights, oppression, and was a passionate anti-lynching advocate. Ida also helped start the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). At the 1913 women’s march, Ida refused to be segregated from the main group and instead joined the other women from her state to march together as a united force.
Nannie Helen Burroughs spent her life educating and advocating for equality. She put together the women’s industrial club to offer lessons in vocational skills for women in her community. With her connections to the Baptist Church, she established National Women’s Day which is still celebrated in Baptist Churches today. She gathered support for the 19th Amendment while leading the National Baptist Convention’s Women’s Council and National Association of Colored Women. Nannie then went on to become a speaker for the Republican party and work with President Hoover.
Women’s Equality Day Celebration Ideas
- Learn about the suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment with these 10 things for Women’s Equality Day.
- Read about strong historical women.
- Learn about other women in history that have made a difference, great women of history, and how women changed history.
- Play women in history games.
- Test your knowledge on 19th Amendment with a quiz.
- If you are old enough, register to vote!
- Learn more about how voting works in your area.
- Find out what action you can take to help further women’s equality.
- Spend time with the great women in your life!