Women’s Equality Day is celebrated annually to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. Nationally, Women’s Equality Day is August 26th. BPW holds an event each year on a Saturday afternoon near this date to take time out to gather for a celebration but also to take a look at the current state of equality for women and what we can do to move forward. Although the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that discriminatory laws in many states kept black women, indigineous women and many other women of color from voting until the passage of the voting rights act in 1965.
In 1971, Representative Bella Abzug championed a bill in the U.S. Congress to designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The bill says that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote.” In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued Proclamation 4147, which designated August 26, 1972, as “Women’s Rights Day” and was the first official proclamation of Women’s Equality Day. On August 16, 1973, Congress approved H.J. Res. 52, which stated that August 26 would be designated as Women’s Equality Day and that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation in commemoration of that day in 1920 on which the women in America were first guaranteed the right to vote”.