Women’s Equality Day is observed every year on August 26, to commemorate the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution which gave voting rights to women in the United States. The amendment is still considered a major landmark in the women’s rights movement of the US.
Though the amendment was first introduced in 1878, it was only in 1920 that US Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed a proclamation at his residence in Washington, ending a struggle for the right to vote that started a century earlier.
The colour of Women’s Equality Day is purple.
History of Women’s Equality Day:
August 26 was designated as “Women’s Equality Day in 1971 by the US Congress, this day was selected to commemorate the 1920’s certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. It was for the first time in the USA when women of America were first given the right to vote.
The 19th Amendment played a pivotal role in promoting reproductive rights for women, ushering in a new voting population with a political agenda that would ultimately legalize contraception and abortion. Women also experienced economic progress as a result, with the increased availability of family-planning services and supplies allowing more women to enroll in higher education and enter professional occupations.
Within 20 years of the amendment’s passage, federal courts had undermined the contraception provision of the Comstock Law of 1873, a federal amendment to the Post Office Act of 1872 that made it illegal to send contraception, or information about it, through the mail, and the American Medical Association adopted birth control as a normal medical option. In 1960 the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved the pill, allowing women and couples to effectively plan when they would have children. By the early 1970s, the second wave of the women’s movement was driving reproductive health policy.
Significance of Women’s Equality Day:
In 1920, the day stood for the result of 72 years of campaigning by a massive civil rights movement for women. Before actions like these, even respected thinkers such as Rousseau and Kant believed that women’s inferior status in society was wholly sensible and reasonable; women were only ‘beautiful’ and ‘not fit for serious employment.’
In today’s era, women’s equality has grown much more than just sharing the right to vote. Organizations such as Equality Now and Womankind Worldwide continue to provide women across the world with equal opportunities to education and employment, pushing in contrast to suppression and violence towards women and the discrimination and stereotyping which still occur in every society.