Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 when women earned the right to vote. The amendment guaranteed that American citizens would not be denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.
Decades later, New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug requested for a special day to commemorate the historic Amendment. Abzug was a leading feminist in the 1970s alongside icons like Gloria Steinem and Shirley Chisholm. As a result of her advocacy, in 1973 President Nixon issued a proclamation deeming August 26 Women’s Equality Day.
The fight for women’s rights did not stop in 1920 and we still have a long way to go to achieve equality for all. Here is a look at where we’ve come since 1920.
Votes for Women
The 19th Amendment was passed, granting women the right to vote. Many minority women, however, were still kept from the polls. It was not until the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 that African Americans truly secured the right to vote.
Equal Pay – A First Step
The Equal Pay Act was passed to prohibit gender-based wage discrimination.
55 years later, the gender pay gap persists.
The employment section of the Civil Rights Act was passed, banning employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.
Title IX – Empowering Women in Sports and Education
Title IX was signed into law, ensuring that anyone – regardless of gender – has equal access to federally funded educational opportunities and programs, including sports.
Access to Credit
Until 1974, women could not own a credit card under their own name. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act made it illegal to refuse a credit card to someone based on their gender. One year later, in 1975, the first women’s bank was opened.
Women on the Jury
The Supreme Court denies the right to exclude women from jury pools.
As a result of The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employment discrimination against pregnant women is banned.
Progress for Equal Pay
Named after Equal Pay Activist Lilly Ledbetter, The Fair Pay Act was the first major piece of legislation President Obama signed into law and helps to prevent pay discrimination.