Why is August 26th known as Women’s Equality Day?
“Every truth we see is ours to give the world, not to keep for ourselves alone, for in so doing we cheat humanity out of their rights and check our own development.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton
The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote nationally on August 18, 1920, so why is Women’s Equality Day on August 26th each year? The simple answer is that just because a constitutional amendment is ratified, it’s not official until it is certified by the correct government official. In 1920, that official was Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. On August 26, 1920, Colby signed a proclamation behind closed doors at 8 a.m. at his own house in Washington, D.C, ending a struggle for the vote that started a century earlier.
What is the 19th Amendment and what does it mean?
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
How did this come to be?
The 15th amendment made it illegal for the federal or state government to deny any US citizen the right to vote. This did not apply to women. Thus, began the Suffrage Movement led by key figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women were among the original authors of the 19th amendment although it took forty-one years before the government would even consider ratifying the 19th amendment. Many lawmakers feared that women would vote in large groups, which would affect the outcome of elections.
The first state to approve the amendment was Wisconsin. The 36th and final approval needed for the amendment to pass was Tennessee in 1920. (Support by the southern states was lacking and there was a 48-48 tie in Tennessee, so it was a feat to break that tie in order for the amendment to pass.)
“The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Understand what it means and what it can do for your country. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully.” – Elizabeth Chapman Catt
Remember our GFWC history
As a GFWC Club, plan an event to celebrate and remember those who fought, sacrificed and/or marched for our rights. Volunteer at your local voting headquarters, plant a tree or flower garden, hold a luncheon or tea in your community, host a summer social, or membership drive.
August 26, 2020 will mark the centennial celebration of women winning the right to vote. It is never too early to plan next summer’s event to commemorate 100 years of Women’s right to Vote. This is one of the three new GFWC brand initiatives: Clubs throughout the Federation are asked to plan 1,000 community service projects to celebrate August 26, 2020.