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Women's Equality Day

August 26, 2021

August 26, 2021, we observe the 101st year of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in a federal election. Indigenous women did not gain the right to vote until 1924 when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act.  In the first election in 1920 after this amendment passage, only 36% of women actually cast a ballot compared to 68% of men. According to the Pew Research Center, since 1984 women voters have turned out to vote at a greater rate than men in every presidential election.

Voter turnout varies by race and ethnicity over the years among eligible women voters compared to their eligible male counterparts. In 2016, 64% of Black women voted in comparison to only 54% of Black men while 50% of Hispanic women voted compared to 45% of Hispanic men. White voters saw a 3- percentage point difference with 67% of White women and 64% of White men voting.

While all eligible voters have the right to vote today, we continue to see efforts to block access to underrepresented voters through voter ID laws and other targeted policies. During the 2010s, 25 states passed new laws that made it more difficult to vote, especially among disenfranchised people of color and underserved communities.

In the 1973 Presidential Proclamation 4236 – Women’s Equality Day, Nixon shared “The struggle for women's suffrage, however, was only the first step toward full and equal participation of women in our Nation's life. In recent years, we have made other giant strides by attacking sex discrimination through our laws and by paving new avenues to equal economic opportunity for women. Today, in virtually every sector of our society, women are making important contributions to the quality of American life.” While this statement was true in 1973, it is even more accurate today as we saw the first woman, and first woman of color, elected to the nation’s second highest office and we see a continued increase in the number of women elected to the House and Senate.