Women’s Equality Day

In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. Bella Abzug championed the declaration to commemorate the anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, added in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. The push for the right to vote was first begun in 1848, so it took 72 years of efforts by women to make it come to pass.

Time and Date reports, “Opposition to voting by women was widespread and the amendment did not get to the see the light of the day again until 1914 when it was once gain brought up in the US congress. In May 1919, two-thirds of the Congress voted in favor of the amendment and it was sent to the states for ratification.”

Days of the Year says about this: “Over the last century, great women have proved [stereotypes about them] wrong as the world has witnessed just what women are capable of achieving, from the likes of Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt fighting for civil rights and equality to great scientists such as Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Jane Goodall. The last century has shown more than ever what both women and men are capable of achieving, given the opportunity.”

Not only does this day celebrate the right to vote, but also draws attention to the ways women have yet to achieve full equality. This is alas, still true in the United States, but even more so in other parts of the world. There is much work to be done in this area. If we are to become a more just world, women need access to education, health care, child care, and equal pay for equal work, among others.

Quotes about gender equality

Too often, these are called women’s issues. Well, I am a proud lifelong fighter for women’s issues, because I firmly believe what’s good for women is good for America.–Hillary Clinton

I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.–Maya Angelou

A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.–Gloria Steinem

When God created man and woman, he was thinking, ‘Who shall I give the power to, to give birth to the next human being?’ And God chose woman. And this is the big evidence that women are powerful–Malala Yousafzai

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.–Kofi Annan

Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.–Ban Ki-moon

I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.–B. R. Ambedkar

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.–Audre Lorde

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.–Mary Shelley

Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.–Charlotte Whitton

Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.–Amelia Earhart

Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.–Susan B. Anthony

How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?-—Emma Watson

We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.–Sheryl Sandberg

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NOW (National Organization for Women) Day

June 30 is NOW (National Organization for Women) Day. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in the workplace because of sex, but little was being done to enforce the law. So several women came together in 1966 to promote women’s rights, and founded NOW. There original key points were:

  • women’s rights as “truly equal partnership with men,” “fully equal partnership of the sexes”
  • focused on activism: “confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right as individual Americans, as human beings”
  • women’s rights seen in the context of “the world-wide revolution of human rights”; equality of women as an opportunity to “develop their fullest human potentials”
  • purpose to put women in the “mainstream of American political, economic and social life”
  • NOW’s commitment “equality, freedom, and dignity for women” specifically defined as not being about “special privilege” for women or “enmity towards men”

NOW has often been criticized during the years, particularly by conservatives who do not appreciate their stand on gender issues or women’s reproductive issues. They have also been condemned for being too narrowly focused, such as this year when they endorsed Hillary Clinton for Democratic nominee because she was a woman, when many members felt Bernie Sanders spoke more clearly to the broader issues of rights.

This year is their 50th anniversary. NOW is no longer the powerhouse they were in the 1970s and 1980s when they were campaigning to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, but they still serve a useful purpose. Even 50 years after their founding, women still make less than men on the job for the same positions, and women of color even less than their white counterparts. With the overwhelming numbers of men in Congress, women need a strong voice to bring their issues to people with the power to make laws and change society. So I celebrate them today for their successes and hope in another fifty years they will no longer be necessary, because inequality on the basis of gender will be a thing of the past.

NOW

Quotes about equal rights

We all fight over what the label ‘feminism’ means but for me it’s about empowerment. It’s not about being more powerful than men – it’s about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It’s about very basic things. It’s not a badge like a fashion item.–Annie Lennox

I believe in, and will to the best of my ability fight for, equal rights and freedom of opinion for everyone, regardless of colour, religion, nationality, orientation – you know the rest.–Binyavanga Wainaina

I’m not a political person, but I’m a person with compassion. I care passionately about equal rights.–Ellen DeGeneres

We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to write the next chapter – and to write it in the books of law.–Lyndon B. Johnson

To me, feminism is such a simple description: it’s equal rights, economic rights, political rights, and social rights.–Callie Khouri

I believe the equal rights amendment is a necessity of life for all citizens. The cabinet sometimes felt that I shouldn’t be so outspoken.–Betty Ford

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.–Rebecca West

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.–Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union…. Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.–Susan B. Anthony

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.–Bella Abzug

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