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Women's Equality Day in the United States

Women's Equality Day celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States' Constitution on August 26, 1920.

Is Women's Equality Day a Public Holiday?

Women's Equality Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

The 19th Amendment was added to the American Constitution in 1920.

Celebrate gender equality on Women's Equality Day.

©iStockphoto.com/giftlegacy

The amendment granted women the right to vote for the first time and was a result of the women's suffrage movement in the country.

A 40-Year Journey

The amendment, which was and still remains a major landmark in the women's rights movement in the United States, was first introduced in the Congress in 1878 by California Senator Aaron A. Sargent on the behest of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Because of this, the first version of the amendment is often called the Anthony Amendment, after Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for voting in the Presidential elections in 1872.

Arrested for Voting

The journey to gain the right to vote for women was a long one – voting rights had been extended to all male citizens of the United States by the 14th Amendment in 1868. The 15th Amendment, which was passed in 1870, prohibited the central or any state government from denying an American citizen the right to vote based on their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Despite this, women were not allowed to vote in most states and were often arrested when they tried to cast their ballots during elections under the two amendments.

Widespread Opposition

Opposition to voting by women was widespread and the amendment did not get to the see the light of the day again until 1914 when it was once gain brought up in the US congress. In May 1919, two-thirds of the Congress voted in favor of the amendment and it was sent to the states for ratification.

While there are still many issues that the women's rights movement has been working and fighting for, the amendment ensured that women could make their voices heard and affect policy change.

Celebrating Equality

Women's Equality Day was first celebrated in 1971 after the Congress passed a resolution to mark the occasion annually. The proposal to do so was made by Representative and feminist Bella Abzug. The purpose behind the creation of this holiday was to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality in society and to recognize the hard work and sacrifices made by the pioneers in the suffrage movement.

Women's rights organizations and groups that work in the area of voting rights celebrate this day by holding seminars and workshops that address issues and problems currently faced by women in the country. Schools and educators take the day as an opportunity to educate students of the long and often difficult journey of the women's rights movement to gain basic human rights.

Because this is an observance and not a national holiday, businesses, public and private organizations and schools remain open on this day.

Women's Equality Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010ThuAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2011FriAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2012SunAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2013MonAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2014TueAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2015WedAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2016FriAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2017SatAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2018SunAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2019MonAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 
2020WedAug 26Women's Equality DayObservance 

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