About time

U.S. gets its first national monument to women’s history

The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum. (Wikimedia)

The United States has its first national monument to women’s history!

President Obama on Tuesday — Equal Pay Day, as he noted — designated the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, in Washington D.C., which was home to one of the nation’s leading women’s rights organizations, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. The house was purchased by suffragist Alice Paul in 1929, for the National Woman’s Party (NWP), and remained the group’s headquarters until 1997, when the party became an educational organization and converted the house to a museum. Watch Obama’s complete remarks in the video below.

Paul moved the NWP’s headquarters to the house almost a decade after women won the right to vote — a victory she considered “just the first step,” according to NWP executive director Paige Harrington. The location, near Capitol Hill, was chosen deliberately, as the party’s members stepped up their engagement in national politics — campaigning for women candidates and drafting legislation for women’s rights. Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment, which remains unpassed since 1923, although Harrington says “well over 100 pieces of legislation that [members of the NWP] drafted were actually passed.”

“From out of this house, these woman wrote pieces of legislation and lobbied for them, and impacted thousands and thousands of women’s lives,” says Harrington. “We have people, men and women, who come into his house, and they cry.”

During his remarks, Obama said he was proud to designate “America’s newest monument” to the cause of women’s equality. “I know we’re getting closer to that day,” Obama said.

Read the full story at National GeographicThe Associated Press and The White House.

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