Aug. 26 is Women’s Equality Day. This observance not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but it also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. We are reminded that there is still more work to do, including working to protect the right to vote from efforts to restrict it; working to achieve equal pay for equal work; and working toward equal access and funding for women’s health care and services.
As we celebrate, we honor the women who fought for this right: Carrie Chapman Catt, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Nina Otero-Warren and others often overlooked in studying American history.
When they first organized, American women were a disenfranchised class. They had to overcome barriers. They were frequently harassed, often jailed and sometimes attacked by mobs and police. Through grassroots efforts circulating petitions and pamphlets, writing articles in newspapers and magazines, and giving speeches at churches, convention halls and on street corners, they persevered and created one of the most successful nonviolent civil rights movements in American history.