Women’s Equality Day

Women@NASA Celebrates Women’s Equality Day

August 26th serves as the national celebration of the right for which many before us fought.  It signifies equality, given to females by the 19th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. An excerpt from the 1971 Joint Resolution of Congress that marked Women’s Equality Day reads:

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
 
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;
 
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
 
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
 
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26 of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and 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, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

 
Thanks to the women of our past, we bear the right and civic duty to vote in a democratic nation.  In fact, we honor these women by ensuring that no matter how far from home we may find ourselves, we cast the ballot because we can. Even as far as 250 miles out of this worldas astronaut Shannon Walker did in 2010 during her mission aboard the International Space Station. 

Historically, the move towards equal voting rights was first seriously formulated at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.  Major players in the suffrage movement were Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Julia Ward Howe, among others.  The voting rights amendment was introduced for the first time to the United States Congress in 1878 and eventually accepted in 1919.  The ratification process of an amendment requires two-thirds accepting votes among the States, and on August 24, 1920, Tennessee was the final state to approve.  The amendment was signed into law on August 26, 1920.

In keeping with the joint resolution that asks for a presidential proclamation each year, President Obama said in 2011: “The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution tore down the last formal barrier to women’s enfranchisement in our Nation and empowered America’s women to have their voices heard in the halls of power… We continue to uphold the foundational American principles that we are all equal and that each of us deserves a chance to pursue our dreams.”

As we celebrate another year of equality, we think of those who came before us. We think of those who did not give up, and we ultimately fail to comprehend a society where our dreams are limited.  However, more than anything, on this day we thank the many people who ensured a better life for those who came after them.

History in Pictures