Progress And Inclusion: The Lasting Impact Of Women's Equality Day

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated February 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Every year on August 26th, the world celebrates Women's Equality Day, marking the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. This day serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight for gender equality and the progress toward achieving it. Understanding the history behind women's equality and the steps that can still be taken can be beneficial regardless of gender, age, or background.

Facing inequality at work or at home?

A history of Women's Equality Day

Women's Equality Day has its roots in the women’s suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when women fought for the right to vote. The start of the Women's Movement can be traced back to the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848, a pivotal event that ignited the fight for women's suffrage. Women won the right to vote through the 19th Amendment, which was passed by Congress on June 4th, 1919 and ratified on August 18th, 1920.

In 1971, the US Congress designated August 26th as Women's Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment and celebrate the progress toward achieving gender equality while bringing awareness to areas where equality could continue to be gained.

While the passing of the 19th Amendment was a successful effort against sex discrimination, it was only the first step toward full and equal participation in other sectors, including leadership. In addition to celebrating the 19th Amendment, we also celebrate the 1965 Voting Rights Act that allowed Black women or women of color to vote. 

March is recognized as Women's History Month, during which we reflect on the progress made since these pivotal moments. Presidents issue a proclamation annually to honor the contributions of American women throughout history.

That status of women's equality today

Despite the progress made toward gender equality, many women continue to advocate for equal rights. In many parts of the world, women face unequal treatment in the workplace, unequal pay, limited approach to education and healthcare, and unequal representation in politics. These inequalities may mean a long road toward true equality or equity in virtually every sector of society. Below are a few of these challenges to keep in mind this year. 

Lack of women in leadership positions

An area in which women might face inequality is in leadership positions. Despite making up half the global workforce, women are often underrepresented in top leadership positions, particularly in politics, engineering, math, sciences, and the corporate world. This challenge may be attributed to outdated attitudes and a lack of awareness about the benefits of having more women in positions of power. In addition, it can be caused by social stigmas passed down from generation to generation. 

Barriers to women's political participation

Several barriers may hinder women's political participation, including cultural attitudes, a lack of resources, and discriminatory laws and policies. In some countries, women could face legal and cultural barriers preventing them from participating in political life, such as laws restricting their ability to own property or travel without a man's approval. 

Pay inequality

In 2023, white women make 83 cents to every dollar a man makes. This gap is more significant for BIPOC women, trans women, and immigrants. Pay inequality is often made to seem like a challenge of the past. However, it can occur due to sexist policies, beliefs, and stigmas in the workplace. 

Reproductive inequality

In 2022, the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, removing federal safeguards on abortion. Due to this ruling, many states made abortion illegal for residents. In some, abortion was made punishable by imprisonment and heavy fines. These bans were applied to those who needed an abortion for multiple reasons, including those who have been through trauma, may die without one, or are minors. Many US organizations, like the ACLU, fight back for reproductive rights. Many American women, especially black women, face challenges in reproductive rights, highlighting the need for full equality in every aspect of American life, including healthcare.

Identity inequality 

LGBTQ+ women are among those with the least rights worldwide. For women in relationships with other women, unique challenges like adoption laws, birthright laws, immigration laws, and parentage laws can cause a lack of equal approach to family planning, childcare, and family immigration. In addition, same-sex couples comprising women are often susceptible to specific hate crimes and sexual violence from strangers in their communities, family members, friends, and others. 

If you're an LGBTQ+ youth or young adult in crisis, contact The Trevor Project hotline by calling 1-866-488-7386 or texting "START" to 678-678. You can also use their online chat. 

If you are experiencing sexual abuse or have experienced assault, note that the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a hotline dedicated to supporting individuals experiencing sexual assault, harassment, or intimate partner violence. You can contact them anytime by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673) or using the online chat.

How to celebrate Women's Equality Day

On Women's Equality Day August 26th, we not only celebrate a historic event but also recognize the other giant strides needed in areas like workplace equality, political representation, and social justice. This day, marked by Congress assembled, calls for continued advocacy for equal economic opportunity and full equality in all aspects of American life. Although efforts are still to be made for women's equality, there are a few ways you can celebrate the efforts of historical women to bring equality to all, including the following. 

Educate yourself and others 

It may be beneficial to learn about the history of the women's rights movement and the ongoing fight for gender equality. Discuss this information with others and encourage them to get involved. You can use trending hashtags on social media to connect with a wider audience and discuss the graphics or insights of other people online. 

Get involved in advocacy 

Support organizations and initiatives that work toward gender equality. You might try donating, volunteering, or joining a local women's rights organization. If you're not a woman, you can offer support by raising women's voices above your own and standing beside women during difficult conversations. Speak up if you see a man talking unkindly about women or perpetuating violent stereotypes. 

Support women-led businesses 

Buy products and services from women-owned businesses and support women entrepreneurs. If you are a business owner, you might donate a portion of the profits on Women's Equality Day to women's causes. 

Amplify women's voices 

Use your platform to amplify women's voices and give them a platform to speak out on issues that matter to them. You might encourage local schools to incorporate the stories of women's struggles and triumphs into their curriculum. Doing so may promote an environment of equality for the next generation.

Celebrate women's achievements 

Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women in your community and worldwide. You can participate in local workshops and seminars that highlight women's contributions to civil rights or learn about the history of women’s achievements through self-study. 

Advocate for policy changes 

Advocate for policies that support gender equality, such as equal pay for equal work, paid parental leave, and affordable childcare. In addition, advocate for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC women who may face unique challenges in their identities. 

Facing inequality at work or at home?

Counseling options 

Therapy can provide individuals with the tools and support to advocate for themselves and others and become active agents of change in their communities. By addressing the emotional and psychological effects of gender inequality, therapy can play a crucial role in helping individuals lead fulfilling and empowering lives.

If you struggle to find support in your community or want to look for a therapist that discusses your unique identity as a woman, you can also consider reaching out for support from an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. Online therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to process their experiences related to gender inequality. Appointments can be made with a woman, LGBTQ+, or BIPOC therapist, depending on your needs.  

A recent study highlights the importance of seeking therapy to cope with the effects of gender discrimination. The study found that reflecting on past experiences of sexism and identifying the positive implications of those experiences can positively impact well-being. This process is known as benefit-finding, and it may help women cope with the harmful consequences of discrimination and motivate them to take action to fight gender inequality. In addition, studies have found that online therapy can be as effective as in-person options for treating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is common in women. 

Takeaway

Women's Equality Day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made toward gender equality and to recommit to the ongoing fight for change. Therapy may be a valuable resource for individuals processing their experiences with gender inequality and looking to improve their well-being. Consider reaching out to a provider to get started.

Find support with life challenges

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started