In 1971, U.S. Congress designated August 26 as "Women’s Equality Day". The date was selected to celebrate the 1920 passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, women’s right to vote. While remembering the passage of this amendment, it also calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality.
In honor of Women's Equality Day, I thought it would be appropriate to shine a light on a few of the many powerful women’s rights organizations out there continuing the fight for freedom, justice and yup, equality too:
1) National Organization for Women (NOW)
As the grassroots arm of the women’s movement, the National Organization for Women is dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women’s rights. NOW is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. Since their founding in 1966, NOW’s goal has been “to take action” to bring about equality for all women.
Current Work: One of NOW’s current campaigns is called “Ditch the Dirty 100”. Who are the “Dirty 100”? These are the 100 employers that believe they shouldn’t have to follow the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act enabling women to access birth control and other forms of reproductive healthcare. NOW’s “Ditch the Dirty 100” campaign urges employers to set their personal beliefs aside to uphold women’s rights. As it states in NOW’s petition, “I do not believe that the religious beliefs of an employer trump the religious freedoms and bodily autonomy of their company’s female employees.”
2) League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters is a citizens’ organization that has fought since 1920 to improve our government and engage all citizens in the decisions that impact their lives. The centerpiece of the League’s efforts remain to expand participation and give a voice to all Americans.
Current Work: One of the League’s main priorities is Protecting Voters. They seek to protect and expand voting rights by advocating for proactive reforms such as expanded early voting and online voter registration. It also advocates against barriers to the voter registration process and on Election Day, and helps millions of voters get the information and any required documentation they need to vote. The League also works to modernize our voting systems, streamline the voting process, promote transparent and accountable redistricting and make it easier for all eligible citizens to become active participants in our electoral process. In other words, they’re going to be pretty busy come Election Day!
3) The Association of Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
The Association of Women's Rights in Development is an international, feminist, membership organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights. AWID provides comprehensive information and analysis on women’s human rights and global issues.
Current Work: One campaign under AWID’s Resisting and Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms work is focused on The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) treatment of women particularly in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. AWID asserts that ISIS is the enemy of religious freedom, human rights, and of women everywhere. It threatens the security of citizens across the globe. The organization is calling on the international community, the United Nations, and member-states to take urgent action.
Object challenges ‘sex object culture’ – the sexual objectification of women. It is an award-winning organization that uniquely combines successful political lobbying with grassroots campaigning.
Current Work: Object is currently working on a campaign called “Lose the Lads Mags” (this organization is based in the UK - hence the lads). They call on high-street retailers to lose the men's magazines that are sexist, harmful and can breach equality law. On “Feminist Fridays” they carry out guerrilla rebranding missions to magazine outlets with prominent displays of these magazines.
5) The American Association of University Women
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Since their founding in 1881, AAUW members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political.
Current Work: Still not sure what Women’s Equality Day is all about? Check out AAUW’s “Standing Up for Voting Rights” petition. It gives a great overview of women’s voting rights from 1920 through today and calls on people to support a bipartisan amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which would require key states that have demonstrated a history of voting discrimination to obtain preclearance prior to any voting changes.
Obviously, these are just a few of the amazing women’s rights organizations and campaigns going on right now. Today we should celebrate the strides we have made towards women’s equality as well as continue to fight to make the world a better and more equal place.