Women's Equality Day is celebrated in the United States on Aug. 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. In short, the Amendment ensures women have the right to vote. The observance of the day not only commemorates the right to vote but also encourages women's continued efforts towards complete equality and is celebrated to renew that commitment. It's also a day of uplifting and empowering women while acknowledging progress, expressing gratitude for influential women, supporting local businesses run by diverse women and celebrating with loved ones.
Aug. 26 became the nationally recognized day in 1971 when Bella Abzug introduced a successful bill designating the day as Women's Equality Day. You can learn more about the holiday here.
There are countless examples of women who have carved a path toward a greater experience for women which contributes positively to our everyday lives. While this is a U.S. nationally recognized day, it's something women across the world can relate to.
TTEC is celebrating in a few ways: Check out our social pages for details and save the date for a live Facebook event occurring on Aug. 26 at 2p.m. MST!
This year, I'm turning forty and even within my lifetime I've seen a paradigm shift in terms of how women support and uplift each other. As an example, when I was young, I felt at times that women were taught to compete with one another but to the extent that there was only enough space for one of us in the room. Women also were taught to seek the approval or acceptance of men. Now, I see women locking arms in support of each other and making space for all of our voices to be heard, recognized, and valued. It’s a beautiful thing. I was fortunate in my young life to have a mother and grandmother who taught me that gender norms were not something I had to abide by. I was encouraged to be the best version of myself. Case in point, as a child, if I wanted to play sports, I played sports and was encouraged to do so.
I was chatting with one of our interns (who's becoming a permanent employee), Megan Skala, and through our conversation we discussed the day's origin and continued focus on women's civil rights. At the same time, we discussed many examples in modern society where women have achieved great things. In the spirit of continued equality today, and looking towards the future, I'd like to highlight some examples that are in no particular order.
Women in sports
- Simone Biles, American Olympic athlete, is one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time. She has 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. This year, she dropped from some events to protect her mental and physical health and, in a conversation with the president of the United States, acknowledged how nice it is for mental health to be discussed in sports because "at the end of the day, we're humans before athletes."
- A'ja Wilson once tweeted that Lebron James' salary “must be nice.” At first she was criticized, however, in 2020, the WNBA and its players’ union reached a new agreement with improvements in pay and benefits. I think many would acknowledge there's still room for improvement in support of women athletes, but it took courageous voices, like A'ja and allies, to begin to drive change.
- Quinn, a member of the Canadian women's Olympic soccer team became the first transgender and non-binary athlete to win a gold medal when Canada won against Sweden in the finals.
Women in the public sector
- Kamala Harris is the first female Vice President of the United States and therefore the highest ranking female official in U.S. history. She is also the first African American and first Asian American vice president. Prior to this, she served as a U.S. senator of California from 2017 to 2021, and as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017.
- Young Kim is one of the first three Korean American women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after winning the race for California’s 39th Congressional District. A member of the Republican party, she ran on the promise to work past partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the first and only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor. She graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. She was denied commission as a medical officer but served as an unpaid volunteer surgeon at the U.S. Patent Office Hospital in Washington. She strongly opposed traditional women's dress, arguing they were uncomfortable, inhibited mobility, and spread dust and dirt. As a result, she wore what was then considered “men's clothing” stating it made doing her job easier.
Women in business
- Kat Calvin is a lawyer and social entrepreneur who founded a nonprofit organization called Spread the Vote. The organization helps people obtain identification (IDs) needed to obtain jobs, housing, medical care and voting in voter ID states. One of the slogans found on their website reads "An ID today, is a vote tomorrow."
- Deborah Liu was named chief executive officer of Ancestry.com in 2021. Before that, she was a top executive at Facebook, where she created and led the social network’s Marketplace product group. Liu is actively involved in promoting diversity and women in technology and co-created the Women in Product nonprofit. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Intuit Inc.
- In 2021, the number of women running businesses on the Fortune 500 reached a new record: 41. What’s more, for the first time two African American women are running Fortune 500 businesses (Roz Brewer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett of TIAA).
Call to action - ways you can celebrate
- Take time to thank the women in your life for what they do every day or acknowledge something really special they've done
- Learn about women who have shaped history and helped make the world a better place
- Share, think about, and discuss ideas or support local businesses or non-profits to make the future even better
- Volunteer for an organization that supports equality
- Register to vote
- Read a book by a female author or watch a movie with a strong woman lead
- Spend time with loved ones: mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, partners, etc. and celebrate their accomplishments
- Do a good deed for someone who would benefit from your time or support
- Celebrate our aging community by visiting a long-term care home (my son recently bought a book of poetry written by a woman from a local long-term care home)
- Thank a healthcare worker - the pandemic has been hard on everyone and healthcare workers are on the front line working to care for people in need