Life

9 Ways To Celebrate Women’s Equality Day

Including one Emma Watson-inspired idea.

Women's Strike for Peace-And Equality, Women's Strike for Equality, Fifth Avenue, New York, New York...
The New York Historical Society/Archive Photos/Getty Images
By Bustle Editors and JR Thorpe
Updated: 
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Late August may mean that summer’s nearly over, but come Aug. 26, it’s also Women's Equality Day. In 1971, Congress formally commemorated the anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right the vote in 1920. According to Congress’ joint resolution, Women’s Equality Day celebrates both the certification of the 19th Amendment, and 1970’s Women’s Strike for Equality, a nationwide demonstration that drew 50,000 people in New York alone.

Planning a Women’s Equality Day event requires dealing with some difficult truths about women’s rights. It’s worth noting that what became the 19th Amendment was first introduced in 1878. (Yep, 42 years of dragging their feet; thanks, government!) While the 19th Amendment technically gave all women the right to vote, in practice that meant white women only: Black and brown women in the South were barred from voting because of Jim Crow laws, and didn’t have their voting rights guaranteed until the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act. And the fight for equal voting access for all American women is far from over, as Stacey Abrams’ campaigns in Georgia make clear.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day isn’t just about championing victories (and missing Ruth Bader Ginsburg desperately). It’s also about looking at how far there is to go, and putting energy into making the future better for women everywhere. Here are nine productive Women’s Equality Day celebration ideas.

1

Get The Word Out

Not everyone knows what Women’s Equality Day is all about. You can help make sure they know why we celebrate. "Make copies of the Women's Equality Day brochure," executive director and cofounder of the National Women's History Project, Molly Murphy MacGregor, tells Bustle. "Leave multiple copies at bookstores and libraries and give them to teachers."

In other words, take a page from Emma Watson, who so kindly covered NYC in feminist books on International Women's Day in 2017.

2

Stand Up For Women’s Rights Around The World

Just like women used their voices to fight for the right to vote, you can use your voice to stand up for women right now, in the U.S. and around the world. Share exactly why #EqualityCantWait on social media on August 26, and think about where you can use your voice.

In Afghanistan, where the Taliban have recently taken power and women’s rights are in severe jeopardy, you can donate to International Rescue Committee (IRC), Muslim Hands, and other emergency organizations. You can also sign a Change.org petition asking President Biden and Congress to guarantee women’s rights in their dealings with the Taliban. Haiti’s vulnerable women could be disproportionately affected by the recent earthquake, and you can send funds to various local organizations to help out there, too.

3

Donate To Causes That Support Equality

There are a lot of organizations out there supporting women’s equality, on multiple fronts: fighting for equal access to healthcare, voting rights, anti-discrimination laws, and more. Whether you choose to donate to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Organization for Women, or the Association for Women's Rights In Development, just to name a few, make whatever financial contribution you can realistically afford. Want to give something tangible or volunteer your time instead? Check out a local women’s shelter’s wishlist to see if there’s anything they might need that you can donate, like tampons, pads, or warm clothes.

4

Pay Homage By Using Your Voice

Women’s Equality Day is a great occasion to honor unsung heroes. "Visit the gravesite of one of the women in your community who worked to civic engagement and leave a flower or a note promising that you will vote in the next election," says MacGregor. Now’s also a good time to get your ducks in a row for that occasion: Check your voter registration, look up the next local elections in your area — hint: California is voting on whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 14 — and consider using your spare time to support a candidate whose policies champion women’s rights. And your friends can join in too! Voting, then brunch: a great day out.

5

Sign The Women's Equality Day Petition

Hey, everybody needs an extra day off — particularly one celebrating women. You can sign a Change.org petition for Women’s Equality Day to be a federal holiday, or write to your local Congressperson or Senator to ask them to put it on their agenda. Not sure how to contact them? Here’s how to find your representative in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

6

Support A Local, Woman-Owned Business

COVID has meant waves of layoffs and closures for local businesses worldwide. Now might be a good time to reach out and buy something from a woman-owned business near you that needs support. From the farmer’s market to curated collections online or new endeavors that support charities you love, find a woman making money moves and put in an order to celebrate Women’s Equality Day.

7

Advocate For Inclusivity

Women’s Equality Day is about all women’s rights, but not everyone feels welcome at the party. "I don’t know how I feel about the women’s equality movement," Rebecca Kling, an advocate for the National Center for Transgender Equality, tells Bustle, "because I don’t know how it feels about me." Inclusivity should be a core part of your Women’s Equality Day celebrations. If you’re organizing a panel for Women’s Equality Day, for example, make sure the speakers represent diverse perspectives. Think about intersectionality when it comes to your plans, whether it’s a book club or a party.

8

Ensure Local Schools & Libraries Stock Books About Universal Suffrage

According to the National Women's History Project, one way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day is to make sure no school or library in your community is without books or other reading material about women's suffrage. The organization suggests Winning The Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement as a must-have. If you have a fave book about the history of suffrage and want to spread the love beyond libraries, consider finding a local book donation program or book drive and sending them copies, too. You could also suggest it for your book club next week, or host a live discussion on Twitter.

9

Get Your Workplace Involved

Made a donation to your favorite women’s equality charity? Equality Now, a legal campaigning group for gender equality worldwide, suggests that once you do, you can ask your employer whether they’ll be willing to match it. If you know your workmates want to give to the same places, you can make Aug. 26 into a team or company-wide charity drive. The nonprofit America’s Charities says that gift-matching from employers is one of the biggest motivations for donations to charity, and that around 65% of bigger businesses offer it. Ask away, and see if you can get your charity double the boost.

Experts:

Molly Murphy MacGregor, executive director and Cofounder of the National Women's History Project

Rebecca Kling, advocate for the National Center for Transgender Equality