By the President of the United States of America
August 26, 1977, is the 57th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing that the right of United States citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the Federal Government or any state on account of sex.
This was the successful culmination of the struggle of the American Women's Suffrage movement. The right to vote, to participate in the process of framing the laws under which we all live, is fundamental. But it was only the first step in achieving full equality for women. The late Dr. Alice Paul realized this, drafted the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 and had it introduced in Congress over a period of 49 years, until it passed on March 22, 1972.
Dr. Paul and other early leaders of the movement who did not live to see their work completed were reviled and imprisoned, endured hunger strikes and force-feeding in order to further their cause. Their commitment is an inspiration to women and men today who seek to finally make their dreams a reality. Equal rights for women are an inseparable part of human rights for all.
Strong action is needed to guarantee women total equality in the areas of politics and government, education, employment and related benefits, health care, housing and justice. The needs, hopes and problems of a complex society demand the talents, imagination and dedication of all its citizens without regard to sex. As women achieve equality, men, too, are liberated from ancient prejudices and relieved of arbitrary barriers to personal fulfillment.
This is a crucial point in the struggle to achieve full equality for women under the law. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment must be completed by the required number of states by March 1979. The successes of the past were dearly bought, and this final effort will not be easy. Achievement of this goal is essential in order to secure meaningful equality for all our citizens.
Now, Therefore, I, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1977, as Women's Equality Day and do hereby call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activity. I further urge all our people to dedicate themselves anew to the goal of achieving equal rights for women under the law.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and second.