Skip to main site content.
A suffragette dress, worn in the early 20th century by women seeking the right to vote, is seen along with political posters at an exhibit of historical voting items in Schenectady, New York, April 7, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Equality Day

96 years after winning the right to vote, women fight for equal rights to be enshrined in the Constitution

By WITW Staff on August 26, 2016

Happy Women’s Equality Day! Friday marks the 45th anniversary of the date designated in 1971 to commemorate the passage, in 1920, of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

But voting was just the thin end of the wedge for women’s rights advocates in the 1920s, who sought to enshrine equal rights in the U.S. Constitution. Incredibly, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), penned by Alice Paul and introduced to Congress in 1923, was not passed for another 49 consecutive sessions — eventually passing in 1972 and being sent to the states for ratification. Some of the early resistance came from a good place — for example, motivated by concerns that equality might undermine some of the safe labor conditions that had been ruled specifically for women.

Former first lady Betty Ford wears a button expressing her support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1975. (Handout/Reuters)
Former first lady Betty Ford wears a button expressing her support for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, in 1975. (Handout/Reuters)

The ERA fell three states short of ratification in 1982, and was most recently reintroduced to the House in May 2015, by New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “Almost 100 years after women were granted the right to vote, it is past time to enshrine full equality for all in the Constitution and ratify the ERA,” Maloney told CNN.

Some of the “hot-button issues” around the ERA these days include abortion, military service, and equal pay, according to Jennifer Krafchik, deputy director of the National Woman’s Party.

The history of the ERA is a particular focus of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum — a building Alice Paul purchased in 1929 for the National Woman’s Party (NWP), and which had remained the group’s headquarters until 1997. The National Park Service and National Woman’s Party now partner to educate visitors from around the world on the history of women’s rights in the United States.

Read the full story at CNN.


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

One year on, Oscar winner Patricia Arquette powerfully revisits her call for equal rights

Streep’s equal-rights appeal to Congress gets only five responses

Today’s Google Doodle is suffragist Alice Paul