Samuel Ndụbụisi Ezegbunam |26 August 2020 :How can we celebrate ‘Women’s Equality Day’ without recapping where, when, and how it all started? An Igbo adage, (Eastern part of Nigeria) will always remind us that “a child that doesn’t know where the rain started beating him will likely not know when it will stop.” So, I reckon it will be great I take you back to when and where the struggle started.
Before then, ‘Women’s Equality Day’, as a global celebration, started in the early 19th century. However, before this great celebration started, women in the United States of America and across the globe were seen and treated as second-class citizens. The constitution or whoever does not in any way recognize either of their rights. This is so that their right to vote and be voted for in an election, right to own and inherit properties, right to be employed and be paid accordingly, were all somewhat denied.
This sad history had continued reoccurring until the early 19th century when women equality activists started the movement. It is sad to remember that these great women faced discrimination and violence while trying to push the women’s equality movement forward.
This agitation continued till the early 1900s. Meanwhile, by then, their sweats started yielding great results as the United Kingdom, Finland, and New Zealand gave women the right to vote in an election. Notwithstanding these results, the heroic women continued agitating until the United States of America introduced the 19th amendment of the constitution in 1878.
The great women kept on educating and making positive impacts, which were visible during World War I (July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918). The activist and women’s involvement in World War I; however, was more like a painful contribution as they gave in their best during the World War. These consequent efforts by heroic women in history made women’s suffrage to finally gain sufficient support.
Following a constitutional amendment, which requires approval from two-thirds of the States, 36 of them, however, had to ratify the 19th amendments before its passage.
Surprisingly, deciding votes in the Tennessee legislature came from Harry T. Burn, who happens to be a young state representative whose momma’s plea to support the amendment affected his decision hence turned out to be a great contributing factor in his vote.
Notwithstanding all that the women of yesterday had done, the fight they fought, the discrimination, humiliation, and other challenges they had faced, the women of today aren’t done fighting. There is still a wage gap between women and their significant order, which undoubtedly affects women’s economic power and gender-based discrimination as it is still seen in business activities and workplaces. Some countries still promote the cultures that forbid women from doing a million and one things.
To ignite the sleeping fire in us about the struggle, pains and discrimination women of yesterday had passed through and are still passing and is still going to pass through, the Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971, which is meant to be celebrated every August 28, to commemorate all that women of yesterday had passed through before getting the passage of women’s suffrage in the US.