By Samantha Plotino
Mission Based Coordinator, YWCA Bergen County
Historically, women in the United States have grappled with the perceived notion that they are not equal to men. It’s easy to forget that until 1920, women were not allowed to vote: they were, essentially, rendered voiceless.
Often subjected to a lesser status in society, women continue to fight for equality; a battle that has waged on for centuries. Thanks to some truly incredible women leaders – past and present – today’s women are graduating from college at increased rates, earning higher wages, and are better represented in all levels of government.
What is Women’s Equality Day?
In 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), requested that the U.S. Congress designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”
Why August 26? Rep. Abzug selected this date to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26, 1920, which granted women the right to vote. This unprecedented Amendment was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, women have continued to fight for what they know to be true: there is no difference in the value of a woman versus a man. And while the status of women has vastly improved over time, it is critical that we continue to call attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality, including passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), equal pay for women, equal rights under the law, and a right to personal freedom and autonomy.
A Celebration of Women’s Equality Day
On Tuesday, August 26, YWCA Bergen County will be co-sponsoring a Women’s Equality Day event: From Girl to Leader: A Celebration of Women’s Equality Day. Presented by the League of Women Voters of Northern Valley, the event is also co-sponsored by the Women’s Institute at Bergen Community College, UniteWomen.Org, Women’s Rights Information Center, Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, and Bergen County Commission on the Status of Women.
We will hear from two vibrant leaders – Liz Abzug, Director of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, and Lucy Beard, Director of the Alice Paul Institute – and you will have the opportunity network with your local women Mayors, Senators and Assemblywomen.
We encourage you to bring your daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends to this dynamic event. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the celebration will take place in the Technology Education Building at Bergen Community College in Paramus. Drinks and refreshments will be available, and parking is free in Lot B.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The National Women’s History Project, www.nwhp.org