Women's Equality Day Looks Back at Progress and Looks Forward to Change
One of the most important achievements in the fight for equality was women winning the right to vote. Each year on August 26, women's equality is recognized across the United States on Women's Equality Day. While much progress has been gained in the fight for women’s rights, there is still much work to do.
The History of Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The Amendment reads: “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.”
In 1973, over fifty years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. 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 equality.
Full Voting rights for Women of Color Did not Arrive until 1965
The Amendment, however, did not actually guarantee all women in America the right to vote. Although the Amendment eased obstacles some women faced at the ballot box, women of color still faced legal barriers. Black women continued to raise concerns about their unequal access to the ballot box in the years after the 19th Amendment was ratified. The right to vote for Black Women and other women of color was not fully secured until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Ongoing Need for Change to Secure and Protect Women’s Rights
The gender pay gap still persists in the United States, and women are still considerably under-represented in certain industries such as STEM - especially women of color. The Equal Pay Act has been the law for more than 50 years — but it needs to be updated and strengthened. Women of every race are paid less than men, at all education levels — and it only gets worse as women’s careers progress. Initiatives that promote pay transparency can help close the wage gap.
Beyond the workplace, women still do more of the domestic work and childcare alongside forging their own career. Lack of affordable and accessible childcare is a barrier affecting many working women. The recently passed PUMP Act provides covered break time for women who are breastfeeding, and the newly enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with temporary limitations due to pregnancy.
Policy changes at the federal, state, and local levels can help achieve equal pay and equality in the workplace. As advocates for working people, FMR attorneys seek to vindicate our client’s rights to gender equality in the workplace and advocate for change that ensures fairness and helps working families.
For more information about Women’s Equality Day see: