Women’s Equality Day celebrates the ratification of the 19th Amendment—the moment when women everywhere were granted the right to vote. Falling on August 26th, this day reminds us not only of how far we’ve come as a society, but of how far we still have to go.
In 1848, a sizzling hot summer day in upstate New York saw Elizabeth Cady Stanton taking tea with four friends. As their conversation made its rounds, it eventually turned to the plight of women’s legal restrictions. Stanton voiced her discontent, especially in light of the American Revolution fought just 70 years before—a fight for a freedom she didn’t get to enjoy.
She argued that the new republic would benefit greatly from women taking active roles in society, and her friends agreed.
In days, this group of friends had planned the first Women’s Rights Convention, picking out a date and venue, sending out an announcement of the group, which would they called “A convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.”
That meeting occurred on July 19th and 20th of 1848, and was a first in the burgeoning nation.
This meeting grew into a movement, and this movement into a national campaign. But it was not without its detractors.
Within days of the meeting and subsequent public disclosure of grievances over women’s restrictions, newspapers began running scathing reports, shaming and ridiculing these women, especially over their demand for the right to vote.
But these attacks had an unexpected effect—they drew attention to Stanton’s cause, bringing news of it to towns and cities across America.
What followed was a 72-year campaign that included thousands of activists—male and female—striving for female equality in America. And in the end, they won a major victory.
The right to vote was won on August 26th, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified as law.
In 1976, a resolution was passed to designate August 26th as the holiday we know today. Ever since, the United States President proclaims this day each year as Women’s Equality Day, calling upon the populace to celebrate the achievements of women and promote gender equality.
But the quest for equality isn’t over yet. Today, there are numerous, subtle ways in which women still haven’t quite caught up—cultural artifacts like the wage gap, domestic violence, and inadequate health care.
These issues are slowly disappearing with time, but we can help them get out the door even faster if we make others aware of them. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can celebrate this wonderful day.
Share Your Enthusiasm
If you’re already in know about issues concerning women’s equality, you can celebrate Women’s Equality Day by sharing your enthusiasm.
Social media has made the world a small place—you can get a message out to a global audience in no time. If you have some specialized knowledge about what struggles women still face, or about how to solve these problems, share.
And even if you’re not quite sure what to contribute, a kind word or celebratory statement goes a long way.
And don’t limit yourself to social media! Give a friendly reminder to friends and family, or make a smartly decorated banner for your home or yard. Show your enthusiasm for Women’s Equality Day, and that enthusiasm will surely spread.
Give Your Support
There are numerous organizations that take charitable donations, using your cash to fight for women’s rights not only in America, but around the world. One of the best ways to celebrate Women’s Equality Day in a particularly meaningful way is to donate to these organizations.
These organizations provide assistance in everything from healthcare to food and water, to shelter, to domestic abuse survivor counseling, helping those whom society sometimes overlooks.
Let’s take a look at a few of these organizations.
The United Nations Children’s Fund provides humanitarian aid to children and mothers in developing countries, and partners with many, many other charities to help women all over the world, as well as in the United States. If you’re unsure of where to put your money, UNICEF is a great bet.
And don’t forget about the Girl Scouts—they’ve been empowering young girls for many years, helping them to independently pursue their goals and dreams.
Women Impacting Public Policy seeks to create economic opportunities for women, mostly by helping woman-owned businesses.
The National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of 200 community-based sections, works to promote equality for women in the black community.
These are some of the largest organizations, but there are many more, so do your research and donate a little time or money to the cause of women’s equality.
Spend Time With Her
One fundamental way to celebrate this holiday is to simply spend some time with the important women of your life. This might be a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, or a friend, but whoever it might be, celebrate her.
And the best way to celebrate her? Simply listen. Ask her about her dreams or her favorite memories, or just what she’d like to do that day. Be open to her unique experiences and challenges.
Be there for the important women of your life on Women’s Equality Day, and take the time to make them happy, hear their concerns, and recognize their accomplishments.
Join the Cause
And finally, what’s the last great way you can celebrate this day?
By joining the cause, of course!
This doesn’t have to be a big event. Just make an internal decision to be more intentional about how you treat the women around you. If you’re a hiring manager in the STEM field, for example, give some thought about how you hire.If you’re a manger, consider the environment you create for your employees. If you’re a husband or father, pay attention to how you treat your wife or daughter.
Take the time to develop empathy, putting yourself into the shoes of the women around you. In doing this, you join the cause.
An Equal Society
Some make the mistake of correlating women’s equality with the debasement of males, but this isn’t the case. Equality is about just what it sounds like—equal opportunities for all. It’s about creating an “us” rather than a “them.”
Women’s Equality Day may have begun with the vote, but it didn’t end there. Celebrate this coming August 26th by doing your part in the quest to make the world a better place for everyone.