It is Women’s Equality Day! In 1971, Rep. Bella Abzug designated Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day–a day marking the anniversary of women’s suffrage & our ongoing struggle to have the same rights as men. Let’s look at a snippet of the resolution (hosted here):
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex…
Sounds not dissimilar from today, right? Women (and some lovely, lovely men) are still fighting–extra hard in some states–to have the rights to their own bodies, good jobs, equal health care, equal pay…
Women’s Equality Day is especially poignant for many American women this year. While our situation is admittedly better than millions (billions?) of women elsewhere in the world, we’re facing a government that is regressing, moving us back toward a pre-Women’s Lib mentality. Since last IWD, we’ve redefined rape, reconsidered abortion rights, taken funding from clinics like Planned Parenthood and moved closer to a patriarchal society that sees women as being that can’t properly make decisions for what is best in their private and family lives.
The day was commemorated for the first time on 19 March 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, following its establishment during the Socialist International meeting the prior year. More than one million women and men attended rallies on that first commemoration.
This year’s theme was “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” There are loads of organizations now (i.e. Camfed and Grameen Bank) that demonstrate how much a woman’s education means to a community: better skills to provide from a family; a better understanding of sexual activity & its consequences, thus leading to lower birth rates and healthier babies.
So today, let’s take some time to remind ourselves that Women’s Lib did not end the battle. That because we see the injustice and know better, it is no longer acceptable to have a dominant sex. That sexuality is a spectrum and we’re all in this together. That defending women’s rights is not putting the rights of women above anyone else on the spectrum. That feminism is not hating men–that men are feminists and critical in this fight. That this is about our families & our futures.