Women’s Equality Day has been traditionally observed in the United States since 1973 after Congress declared Aug. 26 a celebration of women’s suffrage in 1971. Every president since then officially recognized the importance of the day. Ahead of the Saturday celebrations, Twitter users are urging President Donald Trump to do the same.
The day commemorates the inclusion of 19th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920, which gave American women the right to cast votes and have a voice in deciding the future of the nation. According to the National Women’s History Project, the amendment “culminated a 72-year, nonviolent campaign to extend the right to vote to women, as a symbol of the continued fight for equal rights.”
Prior to winning the suffrage movement, women were barred from signing contracts, serving on juries, inheriting property and voting in elections. Marriage remained the only form of economic security available to them as the only job opportunities for women were in the service industry and wages were far lower than men.
According to historian and author Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, “[W]oman suffrage supporters advanced the belief that women were more moral beings than men; therefore, women would make more effective reformers if armed with the ballot.”
However, even after 19th Amendment became a part of the constitution, African-American women and those of Japanese origin did not have the right to vote. It was only after Voting Rights Act was passed by the Congress in 1965 that race was ruled out as a discriminating factor when it came to women’s right to vote.
When former President Barack Obama officially declared Women’s Equality Day last year, he stated: “Nearly one century ago, with boundless courage and relentless commitment, dedicated women who had marched, advocated, and organized for the right to cast a vote finally saw their efforts rewarded on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment was certified and the right to vote was secured. In the decades that followed, that precious right has bolstered generations of women and empowered them to stand up, speak out, and steer the country they love in an equal direction.”
This year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the first one to point out that the POTUS was yet to officially announce Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
"Saturday we mark Women's Equality Day,” Cuomo told Refinery29. “In New York, we protect and value women's rights every day. We will always push women’s rights forward. Our economy and soul depend on full equality.”
He further added: "I am calling on President Trump to issue a proclamation, affirming this nation's belief that all men and women are created equal, and that the right to vote is genderless. To say less is against every value we as New Yorkers hold and protect."
After Cuomo took to Twitter to request Trump to give Aug 26 its due recognition, other social media users followed suit, echoing Cuomo’s sentiments.
It is still not clear if the Trump administration will recognize Women’s Equality Day as its track record has been inconsistent so far when it comes to handling historically important days. According to Refinery29, the president declared March as Women’s History Month but failed to issue a statement on International Women’s Day. In the end, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had to do damage control as he read out the official statement by the White House during the press briefing.