At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”
The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.
Jeannette Rankin (June 11, 1880 – May 18, 1973) was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first female member of Congress. A Republican and a lifelong pacifist, she was the only member of Congress to vote against United States entry into both World War I and World War II. Additionally, she led resistance to the Vietnam War.
Jeannette Rankin was born not far from where I'm sitting right now, and her work continues at the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center here in Missoula.