August 26, 2017

Women's Equality Day

Political posters from OMCA's collection exploring gender equality

By OMCA Staff

This week we’re honoring Women’s Equality Day, which became a nationally recognized commemorative day in the 1970s. August 26, 1920 was the pivotal day that the U.S. Constitution formally adopted the 19th Amendment and granted American women the constitutional right to vote.

Although it wouldn’t be until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act would provide suffrage for all American women regardless of race, this date in history marks an important shift in American constitutional rights and gender equality.

After the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, suffragist leader Alice Paul then introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923 as the next step in bringing equal justice under law to all citizens. On March 22, 1972, the Senate passed the ERA to the United States Constitution, which proposed banning discrimination based on sex. The ERA was sent to the states for ratification, but it would fall short of the three-fourths approval needed. 

Sadly, in some American states women still do not have equal rights under the law. On March 22, 2017, 45 years to the day after Congress passed the ERA, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify it. The remaining 15 states have yet to ratify the ERA. 

This week, we’re reflecting back on posters created in the late twentieth century that speak to issues of gender equality, with a reminder that we’ve still got a long way to go.