Women’s Equality Day: Inclusion & Progress Matter
Last year, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day. The purpose of the proclamation was to recognize the achievements women have won throughout our history in their fight to gain equal rights as citizens of the United States of America. August 26 was chosen because that is the date the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
Women haven’t always enjoyed the rights and opportunities they have today. In many countries, they are still denied the most basic human rights, including the right to vote. Gender equality extends to the political, social, and economic spheres. It includes things such as privilege to healthcare, education, and opportunities in the workplace.
This day celebrates the progress made for women, but it also helps to highlight the areas in which women are still not on an even playing field. Inequalities exist at every level of society, but here we will be focusing specifically on the disadvantages faced by women. By recognizing these inequalities, we can work toward creating a more inclusive, equal, and respectful world for women of every age and background.
What is Equality?
In its most basic form, equality refers to the state of being equal. This means that all individuals, regardless of their personal characteristics, have the right to the same opportunities and resources as others do. Some people are worse off than others through no fault of their own, whether socially, financially, or otherwise. Acquiring this for all people involves knocking down those barriers that keep people behind and put them at an unfair disadvantage.
Historically, certain types of people have experienced discrimination based on their background, beliefs, where they come from, whom they love, or because they have a disability or other health condition. Examples include those in the LGBTQ+ community, women, and people belonging to certain ethnic or racial groups. People who identify with more than one group may experience even higher rates of discrimination, which is why it’s also important to look at issues through an intersectional lens.
What is Gender Inequality?
Gender inequality refers to the disadvantages a person experiences based on their sex or gender. It can be in legal, cultural, social, or other types of situations. Anyone can be impacted by gender inequality regardless of their age, race, socioeconomic status, or background.
Gender inequality exists for a variety of reasons, but the main cause is cultural. Men and women have traditionally had different roles and responsibilities in society, and these social constructs have often kept women from obtaining equal rights and opportunities. Historically, men have been in positions of power, whether it be in the workplace, political positions, or otherwise.
Since society has been set up with men at the top, it has made it hard for women to move forward and become equals with men. To give an example, women only comprise 15% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Further, only 28% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers are women. CEOs and STEM workers enjoy some of the highest-paid jobs, meaning men may be better positioned to get financially ahead.
Discrimination against women (known more specifically as sexism) can be common, especially in certain settings. Sexism occurs when someone is denied a position, right, or place in society because of their gender. Others may benefit from sexism by receiving special treatment. For example, since men tend to hold higher positions of power, they may staff their team entirely of men even if a woman is qualified. Further, when a woman doesn’t live up to society’s standards or goes against stereotypical behavior for a woman, they may face backlash as a result.
A Brief HistoryThis day is observed every year on August 26. Congress officially designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971, just one year after the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment being signed into law. Until 1919, women were legally not considered to be full citizens of our democracy, lacking the right to vote, among other things. The 19th amendment to the Constitution secured a woman’s right to vote, making it illegal to deny someone that right based on their sex. It was ratified on August 26 of 1920.
The Importance of This DayAlthough this holiday commemorates the passage of the 19th amendment, it also exists as a reminder of the obstacles overcome by women throughout history. Those who fought for equal rights often faced violence, jail time, ostracization, and discrimination because of their efforts. From Seneca Falls to now, without those women, we would not be where we are today.
Why Gender Equality Matters
At its core, gender equity is a basic human right. No one should be denied privileges, discriminated against, or otherwise left out because of their gender. Studies show that societies that value women just as much as men are overall healthier and safer. By establishing equity, communities can start to decrease discrimination and promote more freedom. This is the reason why Gender Equality Month is celebrated, to laud the work of those who keep pursuing the goal of ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to the same possibilities.
When this is established, the following effects are often observed:
- Higher quality healthcare
- Better education
- A more productive economy
- More opportunities in the workplace
- Happier, healthier families
- Lower rates of unemployment
- Higher wages
- Better social development
One of the highest predictors of peace in a country is how much women are valued. The closer a country is to achieving gender equality, the less likely they are to engage in war or military use. Although gender equity affects individuals, it also influences society as a whole, and even the world. Now more than ever, inclusion, continued progress, and complete equity are essential to making the world a better place. The road there has rarely been easy, but it has been worth it.
How to Recognize This Day
Women’s Equality Day is recognized each year on August 26. It’s a chance to celebrate the progress we’ve made toward full equity for women while also recognizing the work that still needs to be done. Whether you’re a woman or not, there are ways you can celebrate on your own and with the people around you. Some of these could include:
Show your support on social media: Not everyone is aware that Women’s Equality Day exists. However, you can tell everyone all about it. Spreading awareness about a variety of issues can often be done effectively through social media channels. For example, if you’d like to bring attention to an inequality that still needs to be addressed, you can give information about it on your social media platforms. You can also provide petitions, direct people to donate to an organization or post a link to a website where they can learn more about the topic.
- Attend a rally, march, or event: Advocating for gender equity can be even more powerful when backed up with action. You can go alone and meet others while there or get a group of friends together to go with. Despite your gender, your presence at these events is important and needed.
- Do volunteer work: Whether you’re helping out at a women’s shelter, soup kitchen, or food bank, you can make a difference in your community by giving your time to those in need. You can go the extra mile by calling ahead to see what they need most and then doing your best to provide it.
- Register to vote: One of the best ways you can celebrate Women’s Equality Day is by exercising your right to vote, no matter your gender. Since generations before us fought for so long to gain a woman’s right to vote, it’s important not to let their efforts go to waste. Grab a friend and register, then head to the voting booths together to vote.
- Donate to a cause: There are plenty of organizations dedicated to the empowerment of women and the protection of their rights. For example, they may be committed to ending discriminatory laws or ensuring equal opportunity to healthcare or education for women. Even if you can’t donate consistently, anything you can give normally goes a long way.
- Support a woman-owned business: More and more women are becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses. Supporting locally owned businesses run by a woman not only shows your support but can help them stay afloat.
- Mentor a younger woman: Mentorship can be a powerful tool in raising up the next generation and helping those who need it most. You may mentor a younger colleague you see potential in or help out a friend’s daughter who just graduated from college and needs their first job. Maybe you can look over someone’s resume and polish it for them or support someone in getting back on their feet after leaving an abusive relationship.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, reach out right away to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.
Anyone can celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Increasingly, more and more employers are choosing to do so, often at the request of their employees. Although women have jumped over many hurdles to having complete rights, they are still facing plenty of battles. The women’s movement is far from over, and you can be a vital part in ensuring continued progress.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
No matter who you are or where you come from, keeping up with your mental well-being can be a challenge. Although many women feel empowered to reach out for help when they need it, not everyone has the resources to do so. Others may not feel ready for therapy yet. Wherever you are in your mental health journey, you can take steps to improve your overall mindset.
Keep the following tips in mind as you navigate your day-to-day life:
- Prioritize yourself: It’s admirable to want to help and take care of other people, but you have to start by taking care of yourself. No one can pour from an empty cup. Prioritizing your well-being will look different for everyone, but a good place to start is finding what makes you happy. This might be a sport, hobby, or other habits you pick up and do often.
- Stay connected with others: Having a consistent, caring support system is vital to your overall physical and mental health. Good friends and family help us feel less stress and more happiness. They can also improve your self-worth and can help you through difficult times. If you don’t already have people you can lean on in times of need, start by going places you can meet people with similar values and interests as you. Making friends can take time, but it’s an investment worth your time and effort.
- Develop a routine: Many underestimate the value of having a daily routine. While change can be good, it’s also nice to have a schedule you can depend on. When life gets stressful or overwhelming, you can at least have some habits and activities to fall back on. Routines reduce stress and can even alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions.
Taking care of your mental health starts and ends with you, but it’s okay to lean on others for help. In fact, everyone needs support from time to time. Try to focus on the things you have control over and let go of the things you don’t. While you can take steps to influence how mentally healthy you are, the journey isn’t always easy. If you feel you can’t cope with something on your own, be sure to reach out for help.
Find Support with BetterHelp
Mental health conditions do not discriminate, and anyone can struggle to keep their mind healthy. At times, we can pull ourselves out of tough situations and feel better again. However, there are some circumstances that are tougher to cope with and require more support than usual. If you’re finding it difficult to get through each day, you may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional at BetterHelp.
BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that connects you with a licensed therapist with the click of a button. To start, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection, some space to be alone, and some type of device such as a laptop. Many people enjoy BetterHelp because they can acquire care even with their busy schedules and talk to their provider from the comfort of their couch. Reaching out for help can be scary, but BetterHelp aims to make the process easier and more convenient.
Millions of people have benefitted from online therapy, and you could too. One study found that internet-based CBT was effective at reducing feelings of depression, anxiety, and other kinds of emotional distress. Researchers concluded that online therapy was helpful because it requires fewer resources and is, therefore, more available to people from all backgrounds. Everyone deserves quality mental health care. If you’re ready to start your journey toward healing, don’t hesitate to reach out to BetterHelp today.
Other Commonly Asked QuestionsWhat is National women's equality day?
What is National Women’s Equality Day?
National Women’s Equality Day is a celebration of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the 19th Amendment was adopted, women were not allowed to vote. Although this marked an important milestone, National Women’s Equality Day recognizes that there are still advancements to make and work to be done.
Why is Women’s Equality Day important?
It is important to recognize and celebrate because it allows us to remember where we’ve been while looking forward to where we’re going. Many fierce advocates fought for the rights women have today, and it’s vital to recognize their efforts. It’s also a good reminder that change is possible when people come together and raise their voices. Since it is a continual battle, even amidst a changing culture, remembering the past can help propel us toward a better future for women everywhere.
Why is Women’s Equality Day on August 26?
In 1973, the United States Congress approved the commemoration of this holiday. It is recognized annually on August 26th thanks to Representative Bella Abzug. It celebrates the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Although the 19th amendment was passed by Congress in June 1919, it wasn’t ratified until August 1920. August 26, 1970, was the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. So, this seemed the ideal time to remember the strides made for women’s rights. While Women’s Equality Day does celebrate the 19th amendment, it’s also about more than that. Since progress still needs to be made, August 26th is also a time to reflect on women’s efforts toward gaining complete equity.