In an attempt to commemorate women gaining the right to vote, Congress declared Aug. 26 to be Women's Equality Day. Although not an official holiday, the United States has marked Women's Equality Day each year since 1971. But while Congress has officially only designated one day out of the year as such, there are many ways to support Women's Equality Day so that its spirit and message carry over to every other day of the year.
After nearly 100 years of protest and activism that began with the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention in 1848, women were finally given the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, according to History.com. More than 50 years later, Rep. Bella Abzug pushed Congress to commemorate the 19th Amendment by officially designating Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day. But according to the National Women's History Project, "the observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality."
And until the gender wage gap is closed, the pink tax is eradicated, and women are truly considered fully equal, there's still work to be done, so here's how you can support Women's Equality Day today and every day.
Get Educated About The Gender Wage Gap
In the United States, an analysis conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of census data from 2015 showed that women working full-time, year round made on average 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. But while the gender wage gap is all too often discussed as one number, the fact is women of color experience a significantly larger wage gap.
A 2017 National Partnership For Women & Families report found black women were, on average, paid 63 cents for every dollar non-Hispanic white men earned, while Latinas received 54 cents for every dollar.
Distribute The Women’s Equality Day Brochure
Although Aug. 26 has been designated Women's Equality Day since the early 1970s, many people still aren't aware that Women's Equality Day even exists. You can help spread the word about women's equality issues by distributing the official Women's Equality Day brochure.
Encourage Your Community To Issue Their Own Women's Equality Day Proclamation
Whether it's your town, county, school, workplace, or military base, the National Women's History Project has a sample Women's Equality Day proclamation that supporters are free to modify and use to reaffirm their support of the national proclamation. Find it online here and ask your own community to consider adopting it.
Give Away Women's Equality Day Bookmarks
You can purchase a 25 pack of Women's Equality Day Bookmarks from the National Women's History Project for roughly $6. Hand them out to your friends or tuck them inside books about women's right and influential women in history at your local library as a surprise for future readers.
Honor A Local Suffragist Near You
You can celebrate and honor the activism of suffragists by identifying one buried near you. Uncover the work they did toward winning women the right to vote and pay a visit to their final resting place with flowers or other visuals, like this cool "Here Lies A Suffragist" downloadable poster. You can learn where many famous suffragists are buried through Find A Grave.
Support The National Women's History Alliance
Donate or volunteer with the National Women's History Alliance, which works hard to get the word out about Women's Equality Day. While monetary donations are always appreciated, the group is also accepting applications for interns and volunteers with skills in fundraising, marketing, social media, historical research, website design, event planning, and grant writing.
Read & Transcribe Suffragists' Letters For The Library Of Congress
The Library of Congress is asking people to help them transcribe the personal letters, diaries, and speeches of many suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Anna E. Dickinson. Get involved in the project here and help preserve women's history.
Sign The Petition To Make Women's Equality Day A Federal Holiday
In an effort to raise awareness about Women's Equality Day, Women For Action started a Change.org petition urging legislators to turn the specially designated day into a federal holiday. Their goal, according to the petition, is to "further recognize the importance of this day" by recognizing it as a federal holiday and therefore "commemorating and celebrating the efforts of the women that have come before us as pioneers and activists who sought the need for women's social and political mobility."
While Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day, there's no reason you can't treat every day as if it was Women's Equality Day. In fact, although many of these suggestions are fantastic ways to support and mark this landmark day, you can also use them to carry the spirit of women's fight for equality into the other 364 days of the year.