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Equality for Women – 90 years in the making


Staff of A Women's Place wear Yellow & White in support of Women's Equality Day

 Today, August 26th is Women’s Equality Day in the United States.  It commemorates the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave American women full voting rights in 1920.  It was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. 

Every president has published a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day since 1971 when legislation was first introduced in Congress by Bella Abzug.  It also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality, not only in the U.S. but perhaps more importantly, around the globe. 

As we honor those who fought for our right to vote and acknowledge the progress women have made in the last 90 years, in terms of opportunities and rights, we also must recognize that there is still significant work to be done and distance to be traveled to gain full equality for women. 

“According to WOMEN’S WAY’s signature research report, A Change of Pace

  • Women are paid just 76 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts here in the Philadelphia region.
  • One in five women nationwide reports that she has been raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner.
  • In the Philadelphia region, more than one in three families headed by single mothers live in poverty.
  • More than 60 of the largest 100 Philadelphia area companies have no women in top executive positions.
  • Women hold only 16.8% of the seats in the 111th U.S. Congress and only 14.6% of the seats in the Pennsylvania State Legislature.

These discouraging statistics demonstrate the need to pick up the pace of progress for women and girls! “* 


Some milestones in our journey to equality: 

  • 1777 Abigail Smith Adams, wife of the second president (John Adams) and mother of sixth president (John Quincy Adams) writes that women “will not hold ourselves bound by any laws which we have no voice.”
  • 1826 The first public high schools for girls open in New York and Boston.
  • 1828 Isabella Van Wagner former slave, abolitionist and feminist is freed and takes the name Sojourner Truth. She begins to preach against slavery throughout New York and New England.
  • 1838 Mount Holyoke College is established in Massachusetts as first college for women.
  • 1840 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, feminist, dress reformer, and editor, omits the word “obey” from her marriage vows.
  • 1840 Lucretia Mott is one of several women delegates to attend the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London. As a woman, she is forced to sit in the gallery and cannot participate.
  • 1848 The first Women’s Rights Convention is held in Seneca Falls, NY.
  • 1849 Elisabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Women doctors are permitted to legally practice medicine for the first time.
  • 1852 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton from the Women’s NY Temperance Society.
  • 1866 Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton, Martha Coffin Pelham Wright, and Ernestine Rose found the American Equal Rights Association.
  • 1868 The 14th Amendment denying women the right to vote is ratified.
  • 1869 The National Women Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Women Suffrage Association (AWSA) are formed.
  • 1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested for attempting to vote.
  • 1874 The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) is founded.
  • 1878 For the first time, a Women’s Suffrage Amendment is introduced in Congress.
  • 1890 Wyoming is first state to allow women to vote. The NWSA and the AWSA unite to form the National American Women Suffrage Association.
  • 1903 The Women’s Trade Union League of New York is formed to unionize working women.
  • 1913 5,000 suffragists march in Washington, D.C. for the women’s rights.
  • 1916 Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to U.S. Congress.
  • 1920 The 19th Amendment is ratified, allowing women the right to vote in federal elections.
  • 1934 Florence Ellinwood Allen becomes first woman on U.S. Court of Appeals.
  • 1961 Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed to chair the Commission on the Status of Women.
  • 1970 50,000 people march in New York City for the first Women’s Strike for Equality.
  • 1971 U.S. Supreme Court rule ends sex discrimination in hiring.
  • 1972 U.S. Congress passes the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.
  • 1977 3,000 women march in Washington, D.C. on Women’s Equality Day to support the E.R.A.
  • 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1995 Lt. Col. Eileen Collins becomes the first American woman to pilot a Space Shuttle.
  • 1997 Madeleine K. Albright becomes first woman U.S. Secretary of State.
  • 2000 Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the only First Lady ever elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • 2005 Condoleezza Rice becomes the first African-American woman to be appointed Secretary of State.
  • 2009 Michelle Obama becomes the first African American First Lady.

Let us continue to work together to reach the destination of this journey, FULL equality for ALL women!!!

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