What We're Celebrating On Women’s Equality Day.
Written by Sarah M., Civil Rights Committee
Maybe you’ve heard about Women’s Equality Day, and even celebrated in previous years; but do you know the true significance of this day?
On August 26th, we are commemorating women’s history, specifically the passage of the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment officially granted women the right to vote. It 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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment wasn’t officially certified to the Constitution until August 26, 1920, therefore signifying the importance of this day in history. The holiday was first celebrated in 1971, when Congress declared August 26th a celebration of women’s suffrage.
Although this was a huge accomplishment for American women, the passage of the 19th Amendment didn’t result in voting rights for all women. Women of color remained disenfranchised and barred from voting for many more years to come. State and Federal laws continued to restrict the voting rights of people of Japanese descent and Native Americans. Literacy tests made it virtually impossible for thousands of African Americans to vote. These restrictive and unjust barriers continued to represent only the voices of white men and women, while continuing to oppress communities of color. It wasn’t until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act passed Congress, that all Americans were truly granted equal voting rights.
Almost a century has passed since voting rights were granted to women, and we still have so much more work to do. Women continue to face the gender wage gap, a constant battle to protect our reproductive rights, and gender discrimination in the workplace. We are still fighting to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. and MN Constitutions. Gerrymandering and voter identification laws make it difficult for people of color and impoverished citizens to make their voice heard at the ballot box.
The fight for equal rights is far from over! We must continue to advocate for women’s rights, and rights for those that remain disenfranchised. Take a moment this Sunday, August 26th to appreciate all the strides that have been made in women’s history; then make a commitment to get involved and continue to fight towards true equality for all.