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Women's Equality Day

Authored by Katherine Waite
Published on 26th August, 2022 2 min read

Women's Equality Day

A 1915 illustration by Henry Mayer, titled “The Awakening,” suggested the geographical force behind the suffrage movement.

Today (26/08/2020) is Women's Equality Day

On this day, 26th August 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution came into effect and ended the denial of voting rights on the basis of sex. The Nineteenth Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, however, it took hundreds of thousands of women decades to agitate for the ratification of the amendment in Congress.

The demands for women’s suffrage began to gather strength as early as the 1840s. In 1875, when the Supreme Court heard the case of Minor v. Happersett, it ruled that although women were citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment, this did not mean they should automatically have the right to vote. This ruling inspired the National Women’s Suffrage Association to pursue the far more complex strategy of campaigning for a constitutional amendment that guaranteed the rights of women to vote. 

Separate groups of women employed a range of diverse strategies to achieve their purpose. The traditional approaches of lobbying, petitioning, picketing, filing lawsuits, and campaigning efforts were implemented across the country. However, others opted for a more forceful approach, with the National Woman’s Party stationing pickets at the White House in 1917. As a result of the disruption, over one hundred women were arrested and imprisoned. Whilst incarcerated these women began a series of hunger strikes, garnering national attention when subjected to forced feedings.

By 1916 almost all of the major suffrage organisations were united behind the goal of enacting a constitutional amendment. As individual states began to grant women suffrage President Woodrow Wilson was persuaded to support the cause and the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Unfortunately, it took a further 40 years to effectively prohibit racial discrimination in voting, with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts.

In 1971, following the nationwide Women’s Strikes for Equality, the joint resolution of Congress designated the 26th August each year as Women’s Equality Day to symbolize the continued fight for equal rights. Women’s Equality Day is a time to reflect on the important achievements of the last century and to continue the fight for equality.

Authored by Katherine Waite

Katherine Waite

Katherine Waite is Head of Publishing at British Online Archives. Katherine studied History at Newcastle University, graduating in 2016. She has worked in the editorial and content teams at British Online Archives. As Head of Publishing she is currently working on curating a collection on the history of pandemic disease in the United Kingdom.

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Notable Days


The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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