Women's Equality Day, August 26th, commemorates the struggles of women to be heard, as fierce advocates who gained the statutory right to vote. Also, known as women’s suffrage, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guarantees all American women the right to vote. The Amendment changed Federal law and the face of the American electorate forever. Women won legal recognition as equal citizens under the 19th Amendment. While women in some states could already vote before 1920, women in some states—particularly those of color—were blocked from voting after ratification.
Additionally, the voting rights of Native American women were not recognized until 1924. For Chinese American women, it was 1943, and for Japanese and other Asian American women it was 1952.
While African American women were quite active in the women’s suffrage movement of the early 19th century, they remained barred from voting for decades after their white counterparts. It wasn’t until passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, that African American women were granted the right to vote.
Women’s Equality Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the continuing struggle for equality in the workplace and the role of women in our public life. Women in public service and government have long served this nation by working to clear barriers, enforce laws, implement new ideas, and change people’s attitudes.
Today we are reminded we all have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to create a society that gives both men and women equal voice.