6 Facts About Women's Equality Day That Everyone Should Know
August signals a lot of things, like the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. It also has some pretty cool days hidden within it. And today, Sunday, Aug. 26, is a day that pays homage to women's history so, to celebrate with these six facts about Women's Equality Day that everyone should know.
Women's Equality Day was recognized under law back in 1973, according to the National Women's History Project. The National Women's History Project noted that it was originally presented by Rep. Bella Abzug, a Democrat from New York also known as "Battling Bella." The United States House of Representatives' archives notes that she was a feminist and civil rights advocate. "She gained notoriety as one of the most colorful and controversial House Members during the 1970s," the archive noted.
It's no surprise, then, that Abzug introduced the idea of Women's Equality day. However, it took an additional two years, up until 1973, for Congress to officially recognize Women's Equality Day.
Guaranteeing women's rights continues to be an issue, even in 2018. In the United States, women continue to fight for reproductive rights, equal pay (aka addressing the wage gap), and against other forms of abuse, like sexual violence. Women of color also fight along the intersections of both race and gender.
As women celebrate today, here are some interesting facts about Women's Equality Day.
It Pays Homage To The 19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment was an addition to the constitution that gifted women the right to vote, according to the History Channel. Although, at the time, it primarily benefited white women. It was the result of almost a century of protest, as noted by the History Channel. The 19th Amendment was officially ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.
As outlined by TIME, Azburg proposed Women's Equality Day as a way to pay homage to the suffrage movement.
Tennessee Was The Final State Needed For Ratification
In order to ratify the constitution today, three-fourths of the states need to approve. To add the 19th Amendment, the Suffrage Movement needed thirty-six states to back them. On Aug. 18, 1920 Tennessee became that final state, according to We're History, creating what's also known as "Ratification Day." The history of Tennessee in the Suffrage movement is long and complicated.
In a special session on Aug. 9, according to We're History, supporters of the movement wore yellow roses. The Senate voted in support, but the House was tied. We're History noted it took three votes before Harry Barn from East Tennessee voted yellow, after receiving a letter from his mother, telling him to "put the 'rat' in ratification."
It's Not Actually A National Holiday
Yep, that's right.
Although Congress recognized Women's Equality Day all the way back in 1971, it's not actually a recognized national holiday, according to Heavy.
What passed was the president's ability to give a proclamation about the day, but nothing about making it a federal holiday. Still, that's not going to stop people from celebrating.
50,000 Women Marched In 1971 On This Day
The same year Women's Equality Day was officially recognized by Congress, on Aug. 26, 50,000 women marched in New York City for the Women's Strike For Equality March, according to TIME.
The march was the brainchild of Betty Friedan, according to TIME, who wanted to show the American media the power of second-wave feminism.
Over 3,000 Women Ran For Office Before They Could Vote
Women couldn't vote until the 19th Amendment was passed, but nothing technically prevented them from running for office. So, as noted by Heavy, they did.
Her Hat Was In The Ring, a database by Dr. Wendy E. Chmielewski, Dr. Jill Norgren and Dr. Kristen Gwinn-Becker, calculated the number of women who ran for political office before 1920.
According to Heavy, 3,586 women ran in 4,927 campaigns before women got the right to vote.
The First Women In Congress Was Elected All The Way In 1916
That's right — even before women had the right to vote, one woman was elected into office.
In 1916, Jeannette Pickering Rankin was elected to represent one of Montana's two districts. She had a commitment to pacifism, women's rights, and civil rights, according to Her Hat Was In The Ring.
The history behind Women's Equality Day is long and fascinating. And although the problems women discuss now may look different, it's clear that women's rights are still a central issue today.