- The 19th amendment to the US Constitution, prohibiting denial of the right to vote based on sex, was ratified on August 18, 1920.
- However, it wasn’t until August 26th that Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation that officially granted American women the right to vote.
- Today, we commemorate that momentous occasion, as well as celebrate women throughout history who fought for women’s rights, on Women’s Equality Day - August 26th.
The 19th amendment to the US Constitution, prohibiting denial of the right to vote based on sex, was ratified on August 18, 1920. However, it wasn’t until August 26th that Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation that officially granted American women the right to vote.
Today, we commemorate that momentous occasion, as well as celebrate women throughout history who fought for women’s rights, on Women’s Equality Day - August 26th.
Women Who Fought for Women's Voting Rights in the United States
In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we want to highlight the following women who played key roles in the women’s suffrage movement.
Ida B. Wells
Ida Wells was a journalist, anti-lynching activist, schoolteacher, and a writer for Memphis, Tennessee’s black newspaper, The Free Speech. Wells wrote about injustices including disenfranchisement, segregation, lack of opportunity for African Americans, and anti-black violence. As a result, an angry mob threatened her until she moved away from the South.
From the North, Wells continued campaigning for civil rights, including women’s suffrage. In 1912, Wells was asked by some white suffragettes not to participate in the suffrage parade during Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration celebration. She marched anyway and continued to fight against all odds for women’s right to vote until her death in 1931.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony, one of the best-known suffragettes, and perhaps the most famous American feminist in history, was raised in a Quaker family believing in the equal rights of men and women. Activism had always been a part of her life; before Anthony dove head-first into women’s rights, she was a teacher at a girls’ school and a temperance activist. Her view was that drinking alcohol was morally wrong, and that men’s alcoholism directly caused suffering to girls and women.
Anthony found it hard to be taken seriously as a female activist advocating on behalf of women’s concerns, leading her to believe in the importance of women’s suffrage so that the government would be forced to entertain women’s interests. Anthony was also an abolitionist and a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. However, she only supported voting amendments that would grant both African Americans and women the right to vote.
Anthony became the second president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and fought passionately for women’s right to vote until her death in 1906.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1840, Stanton was turned away from the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London for being a woman. As a result, she joined forces with Lucretia Mott to organize the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, where delegates discussed “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.”
One hundred convention attendees signed the Declaration of Sentiments, insisting that women are equal to men and also bear the right to “elective franchise” - aka to vote.
This marked the official beginning of the women’s suffrage movement. Additionally, Stanton campaigned for reform of marriage and divorce laws, more education for girls, and less restrictive clothing.
The Fight Continues
As grateful as we are for the efforts of these incredible women, and the progress women have made in American society since their lifetimes, the fight for women’s rights is nowhere near over. In particular, women’s health issues - and the way that they are ignored or disregarded - are a persisting feminist issue today.
Nearly all of us are affected by cycle-related symptoms like period pain, and one in five women is affected by conditions such as dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, and severe menstrual cramps. In some cases, these conditions have shown to put a strain on our ability to participate in activities of daily life, yet very little research is done about their causes, symptoms, and treatments.
We must continue to advocate for our rights. When we’re able to treat our health in a way that doesn’t limit us day to day, we’ll be empowered to succeed, regardless of where we are in our cycles.
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