Equality Day commemorates the passage of women’s suffrage in the U.S. and reminds us of the hurdles overcome by the heroic women who faced violence and discrimination to propel the women’s movement forward.
In the early 19th century, American women, who generally couldn’t inherit property and made half of a man’s wages in any available jobs, began organizing to demand political rights and representation.
In the U.S., the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was first introduced in 1878, but it failed to gain traction. It wasn’t until women’s involvement in the World War I effort made their contributions painfully obvious that women’s suffrage finally gained enough support. Women’s rights groups pointed out the hypocrisy of fighting for democracy in Europe while denying it to half of the American citizens at home.
Because a Constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of the states, 36 of them had to ratify the 19th Amendment before its passage. The deciding vote in the Tennessee legislature came from Harry T. Burn, a young state representative whose mother’s plea to support the amendment became a deciding factor in his vote (which he switched at the last minute).
Women aren’t done fighting for equal rights. Today, the wage gap between men and women still impacts women’s economic power, and gender-based discrimination still plagues workplaces and business transactions.
BY THE NUMBERS
18 – the number of countries where husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
39 – the number of countries where sons and daughters do not share equal inheritance rights.
1 in 5 – women and girls have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse by a partner.
23.7% – the percentage of women representation in national parliaments.
108 – the number of years it will take to bridge the gender gap.
6 – the number of countries that give women equal work rights as men.
2.24 – the number of men for every female character in films.
47% – the percentage of the increased likelihood for women to suffer severe injuries in car crashes because safety features are designed for men.
13% – the percentage of women globally who are agricultural landholders.
40% – the percentage drop in girls getting married in childhood in Southern Asia since 2000.
WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY ACTIVITIES
- Thank the women in your life. We all depend on hardworking women — moms, grandmas, partners, sisters, and friends. Take some time today to thank them for all the physical and emotional labor they do for others!
- Support women-owned companies. Use your consumer power to support female entrepreneurs. You can find lists of women-owned businesses on the Small Business Administration’s website or by reaching out to your local chamber of commerce.
- Register to vote. Women and their allies fought for decades to win the right to vote. Do your part to honor their sacrifices by making sure you’re registered to vote in your community.
WHY WE LOVE WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY
- It gives us an opportunity to learn. Take some time on Women’s Equality Day to brush up on your women’s history and learn about the complicated and fascinating history of women’s rights in the U.S. and internationally.
- It reminds us to show gratitude. It’s not always easy to remember to thank those who do so much for us. Use Women’s Equality Day as a reminder to do something meaningful for the important women in your life.
- It reminds us of how far we have to go.. Despite many advances in the last century and a half, women in the U.S. and around the world still face professional obstacles, domestic violence, and other barriers to their well-being and success.