The list is long, but the thrust of the struggle for women’s rights began in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848. It witnessed Susan B. Anthony’s clarion call for women’s right to vote, which was finally granted in 1920. Women’s Equality Day was conceived by Representative Bella Abzug to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
At every step of the way, women and men supporters of equality, faced continued obstacles in many facets of life well beyond the right to vote. Gender discrimination, implicit and explicit, was persistent in the intersection of domestic and public domains. It includes justice in sexual assaults, equal pay, family leave, reproductive rights, class and racial parity, and equal representation in politics.
While there have been some gains for women in local and national politics there remain, as we know, persisting historic hurdles. The ERA, for example was introduced in Congress 49 times only to come short of votes; the ERA has one single sentence, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
As we celebrate today we acknowledge that the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified. The good news is that it has been reintroduced last year by Representative Carolyn Maloney who said, “Almost 100 years after women were granted the right to vote, it is past time to enshrine full equality for all in the Constitution and ratify the ERA.”
The political arena is where the most important and consequential actions and quality of life decisions take place. At the center of our political life today on August 26 is a historic event. A major political party has nominated a woman Hillary Clinton as its candidate for the presidency of the United States.
This morning, Barak Obama the President of the United States of America, issued, “by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26 2016 as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and promote gender equality.”
The president stated, “On Women’s Equality Day, as we recognize the accomplishments that so many women fought so hard to achieve, we rededicate ourselves to tackling the challenges that remain and expanding opportunity for women and girls everywhere.”
With gratitude to all who fought so hard for human rights and with hope for the future here and around the world, let’s celebrate Women’s Equality Day.