Women's Equality Day and the legacy of Jewish women fighting for suffrage
Today is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Ammendment giving women the right to vote, and has become known as "Women's Equality Day." Jewish women undoubtedly played pivotal roles in the suffrage movement. Take a look at their stories of activism on jwa.org:
- Gertrude Weil was a leader in the fight for suffrage [Women of Valor]
- Hannah Greenebaum Solomon fought to convince the NCJW to support suffrage [Women of Valor]
- Clara Lemlich Shavelson helped found the Wage Earners League for Woman Suffrage [Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia]
- Lillian Wald and the NY State Woman Suffrage Campaign [Women of Valor]
- Ernestine Rose, a pro-Suffragist orator, toured with Susan B. Anthony [Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia]
- Rose Schneiderman served as the key organizer for the National American Women Suffrage Association [Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia]
But Jewish women's history is nothing if not diverse. These women fought for women's advancement, but did not buy into women's suffrage as the mainstream saw it.
- Emma Goldman did not support the mainstream suffrage movement, arguing that it would result at best in the illusion of improvements to a fundamentally corrupt system. [Women of Valor]
- Ray Frank spoke against women's suffrage, asserting that women's influence on their male relatives already brought them a say in the political process and that they lacked the education and experience necessary to use the vote wisely. [Women of Valor]
Today is also the 40th anniversary of the Women's Strike for Equality, when Betty Friedan led a slew of women's organizations in a march down New York's 5th Avenue to demand free abortion on demand, free 24-hour community-controlled child care centers, and equal opportunity in jobs and education. Ten years later, a second march was held to mark the 10th anniversary of Women's Strike for Equality and the 60th anniversary of women's right to vote.
To see how we are commemorating the 90th anniversary of women's right to vote today, take a look at these articles and blog posts both celebrating this historic victory, and asking: have we achieved real equality?
- A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage [New York Times]
- The Echoes of Suffrage [Ms. Magazine]
- My Favorite August [New York Times]
- Aniston-O'Reilly Tiff Mirrors Gender Disparities on Women's Equality Day [Washington Post]
- When Women Went on Strike: Remembering Women's Equality Day 1970 [Ms. Magazine]
- And in a bizarre twist on "equality," a new movement fighting for women's rights to go topless like men - founded by a sketchy cult leader - tries to appropriate the legacy of women's suffrage to support his cause. [Jezebel]
If you would like to support JWA and our mission to uncover, chronicle, and share the rich legacy of Jewish women's history, why not buy a poster of Gertrude Weil or another suffrage activist?
These posters ($5 each, $25 for the whole series of 18) have been displayed in museum exhibits, offices, bedrooms, classrooms, and even bathrooms! Where would you like to be inspired by a the story of a Jewish woman who made history?
How to cite this page
Berkenwald, Leah. "Women's Equality Day and the legacy of Jewish women fighting for suffrage." 26 August 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 22, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/womens-equality-day>.