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The Significance of Women’s Equality Day (and How We Can Celebrate It!)

By Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Did you know that August 26th is a momentous day in gender equality history?

Before we dive into August 26th significance, let’s take a peek into its history first to understand better where we came from.

Gender inequality is an issue that we as women have struggled with, as far as history goes. This is a problem because equality is a social, economic, and political imperative and should not be a debatable issue—it should be something we’ve already been bestowed upon, as it is our right as humans to be treated with decency. And yet, throughout history, the disparity between women and men in all facets of life stays horrendously alarming.

August 26th, however, is a day of joy. This day in 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed a petition that granted American women’s right to vote, concluding the century-long battle over women’s equality in America. This occurrence then leads Congresswoman Bella Abzug of New York to declare August 26th as Women’s Equality Day.

But why is Women’s Equality Day so important? What makes it an epochal event that’s to be celebrated annually?

Well, for starters, Women’s Equality Day is a beacon of hope. It’s a ray of optimism amidst our dark history, a lighthouse shining through the haze of oppression and injustice that says, ‘We are here, and you are not alone in this fight.’ Although the hard-fought battle for women’s equality is still far from over, this day signifies a tremendous leap towards a more inclusive society where men and women can stand as equals, as we were meant to be.

Recognizing the importance of Women’s Equality Day lets us, the younger generation, honor the women who fought before us. It eternalizes the memories of our predecessors’ struggles as they secure a brighter future and a form of gratitude as we realize that we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

So what does this mean for us?

As a generation of youth, we have a duty to continue this fight towards equality. Commemorating this day is a nod to our past heroes that we appreciate their efforts and that we will persist, accept the torch they passed onto us, and carry on with what they started. Surely we cannot let their hurdles be wasted in vain.

With all that being said, here are a few ways to celebrate women’s existence and take another step towards gender equality. You can do this in honor of Women’s Equality Day, but given that change comes with constant progress, I encourage you to do this year-round, too!

Acknowledge Women’s Achievements

How often have women invented something remarkable, yet her name goes unnoticed in history? There are far too many instances of women’s exemplary achievements being swept under the rug simply because of their gender. This is incredibly damaging, as it diminishes women’s accomplishments and dims women’s representation in the world.

You can help reduce this issue by sharing your female friend’s or colleague’s achievements! Support your colleague’s work and highlight their strength, post your friend’s milestones on social media. Please give them the recognition they deserve. Let their presence be seen, let their voices be heard.

Uplift Your Girl Friends (and Girlfriends!)

Women (and men) need to band together to fight our common enemy: the patriarchy. While the patriarchy as a system wouldn’t be so easy to abolish, we can slowly destroy its foundations, little by little, by uplifting women in our daily lives. This can be done by empowering fellow women and looking out for each other. Practice compassion, and hear what they have to say.

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself, because after all, changes start with you. If no accessible formal education or training works on this issue, you can educate yourself by reading books on gender equality. This is amazing for us to have an outlook on different women’s lives and experiences. Here are a few book recommendations:

  • Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For Those Who Identifies as a Male: Be a Good Ally

To those privileged enough not to be affected by gender inequality, I implore you to be a good ally. Protect women, not just because they’re your mother or sister, but simply because she’s a person, above whatever role a woman holds in your life—a living human being with a soul who deserves to be treated with respect. If you spot anyone making sexist remarks, or showcasing predatory behaviors, call them out on it. Don’t stay silent. Use your voices well.

To conclude… Happy Women’s Equality Day to all who identify as a woman. The world we live in right now is not yet the perfect utopia we dreamed of, and there is still much work to be done. But I believe, one day, we’ll get there. No matter our gender identities, I believe we can stand together and fight inequality, one step at a time.

To end this article, I would like to share a quote by the wonderful author, Ursula K. Le Guin. This quote rattled my bones and inspired me to get up and fight the patriarchy with my bare hands, so I hope it can inspire you as well.

I know that many men and even women are afraid and angry when women do speak, because in this barbaric society when women speak truly, they speak subversively—they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.

That’s what I want—to hear you erupting. You young Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you—I want to hear you.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin

Reference

[1]http://werehistory.org/womens-equality-day/

[2]https://time.com/4459168/womens-equality-day-bella-abzug/

[3]https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/why-august-26-is-known-as-womans-equality-day 

[4]https://www.forbes.com/sites/shelleyzalis/2017/08/26/why-womens-equality-day-is-so-important/?sh=2a06335283c7

[5]https://www.hindustantimes.com/more-lifestyle/women-s-equality-day-2020-history-significance-and-all-you-need-to-know/story-RfPkMQvTk4Fwr1SAj634FK.html 

[6]https://www.nbcnews.com/know-your-value/feature/women-s-equality-day-why-it-matters-how-you-can-ncna903786