HerStory: Honoring the Women Who Fought for Equal Rights this Women’s Equality Day
Today is Women’s Equality Day! The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 was the catalyst for the 72 year long political movement for women’s suffrage in the United States. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the long-awaited right to have the same opportunity as men at the polling box. This day continues to be celebrated in honor of the global movement to achieve gender equality for all. We would like to celebrate with you by honoring three women who have fought courageously for women’s equal rights in the United States:
1. Alice Paul’s fight for an equal vote
A vocal advocate and leader of the women’s suffrage movement, Alice Paul’s efforts secured the passage of the 19th Amendment through her formation of the National Woman’s Party. Her first march for women’s suffrage, held the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration on March 3, 1913, lead to half a million spectators and 8,000 female marchers down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Paul continued to organize public demonstrations at the White House and created the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. In 1918, President Wilson declared his support for suffrage and within two years the amendment was approved.
2. Roxcy Bolton’s fight for equal opportunities
Roxcy Bolton’s pioneering efforts to fortify equal opportunities for women across the United States was the driving force behind the proclamation of Women’s Equality Day in 1972.
Upon its founding in 1966, Bolton became heavily involved with the National Organization of Women (NOW), serving as their national Vice President in 1968. Bolton’s lobbying efforts have helped to increase the number of women involved in policy-making positions. Her aid in establishing the Commissions on the Status of Women (CSW) in state governments promoted the evaluation of women’s rights in governmental bodies.
3. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s fight for an equal workplace
A prominent civil rights activist and lawyer, Eleanor Holmes Norton paved the way for women to seek equal participation in the workplace. In 1970, only men could be reporters at Newsweek Magazine, yet women were doing an equal amount of work without proper credit or pay. Norton represented the women of the Newsweek in a groundbreaking class action lawsuit that used the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a precedence to extend protection to women.
The success of the landmark case led to Norton’s appointment as the first female Chair of the United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Her efforts to create an inclusive workplace environment for women shaped the first outline of EEOC regulations to end sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and made it a violation of federal civil rights laws. The regulations Norton instilled have set a standard of protection that aims to prevent sexual harassment and promote the safe participation of women in the workforce.
Norton’s fight for an equal workplace still resonates today. In a 2018 study, RTI International, analyzed how women in STEM’s experiences with sexual harassment impact their work and career path. Women who report incidents may have a decrease in productivity, suffer advancement opportunities, or withdraw from their field. Many respondents reported the perception that the U.S. political environment condones sexual harassment and lack of pervasive action contributes to perpetuation of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Check out our 2018 Ending Gender Inequalities: Evidence to Impact Conference Summary Report to learn more about the current global gender inequality issues, and the evidence-based research, practice, and programs that are making a difference!