Women’s Equality Day

Women's Equality Day is celebrated on August 26, in honor of the 19th Amendment. While the 19th Amendment was officially certified in 1920 to give women the right to vote, the commemoration of Women's Equality Day was first introduced as a bill by Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug in 1971. The bill was passed when she introduced it yet again in 1973, and every president since Nixon, opens a new window has since issued a proclamation designating August 26 as Women's Equality Day.

However, voter suppression continued to prevent many demographics of women from accessing the ballot. As Martha S. Jones, opens a new window said in National Geographic, “Women would still have to navigate a maze of state laws—based upon age, citizenship, residency, mental competence, and more—that might keep them from the polls.” In some states, women of color were able to vote in 1920, but in others they were denied access due to racism, taking the form of poll taxes, literacy tests and more. Even now, voter suppression still exists and prevents people from accessing the ballot.

Women’s Rights

Along with fighting for the right to vote, women have striven for equal rights long before the 19th Amendment passed and long after 1920. This includes the right to own property, get a divorce, and equal opportunities to receive an education. To this day women—and especially women of color—continue to advocate for protections in pay equity, reproductive rights, family support services, health care, violence against women, childcare support and so much more.

Although legislation in the United States has passed regarding some of these issues, women are still fighting for equality. For example, though the Equal Pay Act of 1963, opens a new window passed, there is still a disparity in earnings between women and men, and an even larger pay inequity is seen for people of color. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families’ study, opens a new window from March 2020, the wage gap is larger for women of color. They found that for "every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men":

  • Latinas are typically paid just 54 cents
  • Native American women are typically paid just 57 cents
  • Black women are typically paid just 62 cents
  • White, non-Hispanic women are typically paid 79 cents
  • and Asian American women are typically paid 90 cents.

Celebrate the Centennial

This year, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. This Centennial is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the right to vote, voter suppression and women’s rights in the United States.

Library Events

Book Share: Women and the Vote

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, while recognizing women’s right to vote, did not guarantee that all women and men in the United States could vote. Securing this essential right is a struggle that continues to this day.

Join us on Wednesday, August 26 from 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM, when we will share what we are reading on the topic of voting rights and equality. In particular, we want to honor the contributions of women of color in the fight for the vote. This online program is part of our Book, Please! series, a casual gathering where we discuss and share books on a certain topic. Register in advance.

Author Talk: Voting Centennial

Join us on Saturday, August 22 at 1:00 PM for a virtual lecture and discussion titled “The Surprising Road to Women’s Suffrage" with Dr. Ellen Carol DuBois. A distinguished professor at UCLA and author of "Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote," Dr. DuBois' will share a virtual talk on the struggle for women’s voting equity on the occasion of the 100 year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “extending the right of suffrage to women.” For more information about the event, read our blog or register here.

Other Events

RISE 2020 Women's Leadership Conference, opens a new window

The biannual RISE Women's Leadership Conference is a free five-day conference with dynamic speakers, interactive workshops, panel discussions, and more. Held virtually Monday through Friday, Aug. 24-28, the conference empowers women in our communities with topics such as civic leadership, career development, mental health and wellness, and youth advocacy. Congresswoman Jackie Speier will share a keynote speech on Women's Equality Day.

Books and Resources

Learn more about Women's Suffrage and the road to the 19th Amendment with book lists for children, teens and adults. The National Park Service, opens a new window also provides a crash course and a brief timeline of the 19th Amendment.

Women's Equality Day

Learn more about the right to vote, voter suppression, and women’s rights in the United States.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. 'Dear Ijeawele' is Adichie's letter of response.

El feminismo empieza en la educación. Con su voz cálida y directa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie dirige esta emotiva carta a una joven madre que acaba de dar a luz.

A chronicle of voter suppression exposes America's insidious history of policies that have blocked African American voting participation, placing particular focus on the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby ruling.

Two essays connect the past with the present, tracing the history of misogyny to its ancient roots and examining the pitfalls of gender.

The feminist activist shares her tale of growing up a woman before the era of legalized abortion and rape crisis centers, offering revealing portraits of Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, Germaine Greer, and Gloria Steinem.

Your Voice, Your Vote 2020-21 Edition is a manifesto for every woman voter and for male voters who care about the women in their lives. Martha Burk empowers the reader to cut through the double talk, irrelevancies and false promises, and focuses directly on what's at stake for women not only from now through the 2020 election, but also in the years beyond.

In a masterful scientific whodunit, Shortchanged explains why the wealth gap remains so extreme, even while women have made substantial gains in the labor market.

A series of essays and public presentations prepared for Chicana feminist activities and events during the period 1970-1977.

A unique autobiography unparalleled in American Indian literature, and a deeply moving account of a woman's triumphant struggle to survive in a hostile world. This is the powerful autobiography of Mary Brave Bird, who grew up in the misery of a South Dakota reservation. Rebelling against the violence and hopelessness of reservation life, she joined the tribal pride movement in an effort to bring about much-needed changes.

A powerful study of the women's liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders. From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis.

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How will you celebrate Women's Equality Day? Let us know in the comments!

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