Women’s Equality Day, Now More Than Ever

“WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States and;
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities…”

Thanks to Bella Abzug’s (D-NY) introduction of the above joint resolution of Congress in 1971, every August 26th we commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that allowed all American women to vote as Women’s Equality Day. The decades-long struggle of the suffragists was finally realized by codification in the US Constitution.

bamarchwomen's equalityday

While we rightly celebrate our victories and progress, we are also mindful of the setbacks that the Supreme Court dealt earlier this year to the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and that our fight to make sure all Americans do not face restrictions and  barriers to exercise their constitutional right at the ballot box are not over. Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia took full advantage of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the VRA to implement voter ID laws to combat the non-existent problem of voter fraud. Over the weekend Americans again marched on Washington for jobs and freedom, 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.  delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.  It was a stark reminder that while we’ve come far, our journey to lasting equality goes on.

We continue to fight to close the wage gap. On average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man is given. In a time where more and more households are headed by women or households rely on two incomes to stay in the middle class, women’s economic power is vital to the success of our communities. We’re going to continue to agitate for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.   And we’re fighting to prohibit gender discrimination in our healthcare system. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is no longer a preexisting condition to be a woman. Additionally, the Obama administration established the White House Council on Women and Girls, which works to ensure fair treatment in all matters of public policy.

We fought hard to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, because some conservative politicians think that personal safety is a fun intellectual parlor game that doesn’t actually have real world consequences.

We continue our fight against reactionary forces that want to take away women’s autonomy and strip us of our dignity and humanity in the name of religion and tradition.

We’ll get there, because we know how to organize and call the people who represent us in our towns, states and nationally. We also know how to get ourselves elected, though more of us need to run for office. American women weren’t handed the vote; our foremothers debated, organized and were tenacious in their resolve. They showed up. They opened the door and we continue to cut the path.

Photo Credit Jewish Women’s Arhcives

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