HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Women’s Equality Day: On the road to women’s right to vote

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

Are you aware that Women’s Equality Day exists? If you are not, I assure you, you are not the only one. August 26 is the day women’s equality is celebrated to commemorate the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Amendment became a part of the Constitution in 1920 and it stated that the federal government and the states were not allowed to discriminate or deny citizens of the United States the right to vote solely based on sex.

The history of Women’s Equality Day dates to 1848. At this time, a peaceful civil rights movement had its formal beginnings at the world’s first women’s rights convention at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York on July 19-20. The five organizers of the convention included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, and Jane Hunt. It was here where the five organizers expressed and described women’s grievances and demands. This was entitled “The Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions.”

The declaration began with 19 sentiments that depicted, what women felt, were degradations of themselves and their power. It was also felt that these sentiments exemplified the sheer definition of dependence, which is what none of these women desired to feel. Due to the lack of the right for women to be able to vote, they were forced to submit to laws in which they did not consent. Women were required to be obedient to their husbands and were not allowed to own property of their own. Any wages they earned belonged to their husbands and upon divorce, unequal rights were received. A list of resolutions, which demanded women be regarded as men’s equal, came as a result of this. The resolutions called on Americans to regard any laws that placed women in an inferior position to men as having “no force or authority.”

The most controversial resolution was that of the ninth, which called for women’s right to vote. This resolution would go on to become the cornerstone of the women’s suffrage movement. Senator Aaron A. Sargent introduced the beginning words of what would become the 19th Amendment in January of 1878.

Between 1878 and 1920, champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, although their strategies varied. It wasn’t until President Wilson decided to enter World War I in 1917 that a turning point came about. Supporters of the cause debated that in order to “make the world safe for democracy” (Woodrow Wilson, “Joint Address to Congress”, April 2, 1917) we would need to start at home by extending our alliances. Without women being able to participate in voting procedures, their support for the war would be hindered, which would be a major blow to the desired war effort the United States desperately desired. Finally, on August 26, 1920, the Amendment was ratified! Although it was a lengthy legal process, it was beyond satisfying for anyone involved in this movement.

Although this was a major milestone for women’s right to vote, it is imperative to keep in mind that even though this Amendment stated that the federal government and the states were not allowed to discriminate or deny citizens of the United States the right to vote solely based on sex, many women were still unable to vote. It wasn’t until 1924 that Native American women were recognized to vote, 1943 for Chinese American women, and 1952 for Japanese and other Asian American women. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, African American women finally had their rights upheld. Though voting rights began to be recognized prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 1975 brought real change for Latina voters (as well as all non-English-speaking Asian Americans and Native Americans) following an extension of the Voting Rights Act. This extension made it possible to translate registration materials into other languages so that communities of color could not be discriminated against at the polls. Women’s Equality Day gives not only women, but everyone, the opportunity to reflect on many of the obstacles women have faced to get where we are today.

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.