August 26 is known as Women’s Equality Day. The celebration can be traced back to a march down Fifth Avenue in New York City back in 1970, when 50,000 women celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The women also protested the sorry state of women’s rights at the time, including the lack of affordable child care, lack of access to contraception and laws prohibiting abortion. One year later, on August 26, 1970, Congress passed a resolution celebrating women by declaring August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
Bella Abzug was one of the key women responsible for the movement that led to Women’s Equality Day. She introduced the bill that eventually became the law. The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Abzug was a key figure in Second Wave feminism, responsible for many accomplishments on behalf of women during her time in Congress. Let’s get to know this pioneer!
Abzug challenged the conventions of her time, whether it was at her synagogue or in her profession. As one of the few women lawyers, Abzug specialized in fighting for workers and tenants’ rights, pioneering civil rights cases. Abzug ran her own law practice and had two daughters. She became one of the only lawyers who would take cases in defiance of the McCarthy, anti-Communist, House Un-American Activities Committee.
By the 1960s, Abzug became involved in the anti-nuclear and anti-Vietnam protest movements. She ran for office for the first time at age 50, and became the Manhattan representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Abzug quickly became a feminist powerhouse, introducing the first federal gay rights bill and founding the National Women’s Political Caucus. The NWPC, which was also founded by Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, and Gloria Steinem, worked to elect more women to political office. Abzug gave up her seat to run for Senate in 1976, but lost the primary by less than one percent. The senate was 100 percent male at the time.
These inspiring quotes by Bella Abzug remind us that progress is made in society when strong characters step up for what they believe in:
When I first became a lawyer, only 2% of the bar was women. People would always think I was a secretary. In those days, professional women in the business world wore hats. So I started wearing hats.
Working women wore hats. It was the only way they would take you seriously.
As women, we know that we must always find ways to change the process because the present institutions want to hold on to power and keep the status quo.
Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.
Our struggle was political, ideological and economic, and we felt we couldn’t make something of ourselves unless we bettered society. We saw the two together.
“Maybe we weren’t at the Last Supper, but we’re certainly going to be at the next one.”
“Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.”
Originally posted 2016-08-26 19:58:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter