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Women's Equality Day - 2023

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 26th August, 2023 2 min read

Women's Equality Day

An image of women with "vote" signs and a copy of an amendment in the USA giving women the vote.

Today (26/08/2023) is Women's Equality Day.

On this day in 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution came into effect. This ended the denial of voting rights on the basis of sex. The Nineteenth Amendment was introduced to Congress in 1878. Yet its ratification only came about as a result of decades of agitation on the part of hundreds of thousands of women.

Demands for women’s suffrage were gathering strength as early as the 1840s. In 1875, when the Supreme Court heard the case of Minor v. Happersett, it ruled that although women were citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment, this did not mean that they should automatically be awarded the right to vote. This ruling resulted in the formation of the National Women’s Suffrage Association. It campaigned for a constitutional amendment that guaranteed women’s right to vote.

Separate groups of women employed a range of strategies to achieve suffrage. The traditional approaches of lobbying, petitioning, filing lawsuits, and campaigning were implemented across the country. Some groups opted for a more forceful approach. For example, the National Woman’s Party staged pickets at the White House in 1917. This resulted in over one hundred women being arrested and imprisoned. Whilst incarcerated, these women began a series of hunger strikes, attracting national attention when subjected to forced feedings.

By 1916 almost all of the major suffrage organisations were united behind the goal of enacting a constitutional amendment. As individual states began to grant women the right to vote, President Woodrow Wilson was persuaded to support the cause and the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. It took a further forty years, however, to prohibit racial discrimination in voting. This only came about with the passing of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

In 1971, following the nationwide Women’s Strikes for Equality, a joint resolution of Congress designated the 26 August as Women’s Equality Day. It is a time to reflect on the important achievements of the last century and to continue the fight for equality.

Authored by British Online Archives

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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