By the President of the United States of America
Seventy-four years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote after many years of painstaking struggle and hard work by courageous suffragists. Empowered by the efforts of the brave and pioneering women who came before them, women today have secured positions as leaders in industry, government, and academia. They serve as role models in every aspect of our society.
The 19th Amendment did more than secure the right to vote for women. It recognized and affirmed the fundamental principle upon which this great Nation was founded—equality—"that all [persons] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The ratification of the 19th Amendment was an important step toward ensuring that the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Constitution would truly be the equal rights of all Americans.
By recognizing this previously disenfranchised segment of our society, the 19th Amendment became one of the landmark civil rights laws in America, standing side by side with the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. This year also marks the 4th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 30th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the 40th anniversary ofBrown v. Board of Education . These laws and that pivotal decision, along with the 19th Amendment, have marked the history of our Nation's progress in guaranteeing that every member of our society is treated equally under the law.
We observe "Women's Equality Day" to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment almost three-quarters of a century ago. As we do so, we also honor the important contributions and achievements of women in this country, and we commit ourselves anew to fulfilling our obligation to promote equality for all Americans.
The famous woman suffragist, Helen H. Gardener, advised the Congress in calling for passage of the 19th Amendment:
Let us either stop our pretence before the nations of the earth of being a republic and having "equality before the law" or else let us become the republic we pretend to be.
To further celebrate and commemorate the 19th Amendment this year, let us not take for granted our precious right to vote, and let us rededicate ourselves to removing the barriers that remain in women's paths.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1994, as Women's Equality Day. I call upon the citizens of our great Nation to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and nineteenth.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON