August 26, 2019, represents an important day in American history. It’s the 99th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that essentially gave women the right to vote all across the country.
The day is known as Women’s Equality Day and represents one of the first major victories in the right for equality, a battle that still continues to this day.
“Today, we celebrate one of our nation’s most significant steps forward: passing the 19th Amendment, and finally giving women the right to vote. August 26th is a day to commemorate the progress our nation has made in living up to its democratic ideals. It is also a day to recognize the unfinished work that needs to be done, and to renew our commitment to finishing the job,” Congressman Eliot L. Engel shared with Black Westchester. “Nearly a century after women gained the right to vote, women on average still earn considerably less than men for the same work. This fact is even more true for women of color. That is why, under the new Democratic majority, a key component of the Democratic Majority’s agenda is to pass H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill would work to assist women to achieve equal pay for equal work. I am proud to say that I voted for and helped pass H.R. 7 by a 242-187 vote.”
The amendment was ratified in 1920. It was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement, which started in the mid-1800s. (Suffrage is defined as ‘the right of voting’ by Merriam-Webster.)
The Nineteenth Amendment says this:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Just like today, fighting for equal rights, whatever the group for which you fight, is seldom easy.
There was a lot of resistance against giving women the right to vote and it took a long time for the Nineteenth Amendment to be adopted. You can learn more about Anti-Suffrage movement here.
While some states allowed women to vote to varying degrees and at varying times throughout the movement, it wasn’t until the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment that all states were included.
Even under the women’s suffrage movement, it took over 70 years for women to get the right to vote in the United States.
99 years later, women are still fighting for equality. The United States has yet to elect a female president. Women are woefully underrepresented in Congress, making up just 23.7% of Congress despite making up roughly half the U.S. population. And across the country, women face a gender pay gap where they make only 69%-89% of what men make, depending on the state. California has the smallest gap. Louisiana has the biggest.
“In addition, our country profoundly needs more family-friendly workplace policies. Women today bear the brunt of our antiquated workplace policies, like the lack of paid sick days and paid family leave. As primary caregivers and co-breadwinners, when women cannot take time off to recover from pregnancy, illness, or to care for a sick child, they have to make impossible choices between their families’ health and a paycheck,” Congressman Engel continued. “On this Women’s Equality Day, let us rededicate ourselves to putting in place policies that ensure women can fully and equally participate in our economy to reach their full potential, knowing that when women succeed, America succeeds.”