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Women celebrate a rich history of resiliency

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) --

For 100 years, women and their allies worked to obtain equal rights. They deployed radical campaigns, hunger strikes and picketing at the White House.

On Aug. 26, 1920, they achieved a major victory. The 19th Amendment was signed, prohibiting the government from denying the right to vote based on sex, giving women the right to vote.

Over eight million women across this nation were able to vote for the first time. Throughout history, women have continued to persevere and speak out for those whose voices have been stifled.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organized the first women’s rights convention in 1869. Tired of being denied their ability to participate in the American political process, they would spark the fight for a universal suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

One hundred twenty-five years later, President Richard Nixon issued Proclamation 4147 designating August 26, 1972, as Women’s Rights Day.

The rapid progression of women’s rights in the 20th century can be attributed to the many brave and dedicated women, who risked it all to guarantee the rights they deserved.

Lucy Stone, an anti-slavery activist, was the first to sign the Universal Suffrage Petition, which started it all.

Adelina Otero Warren, a Mexican-American activist, insisted New Mexico ratify the 19th Amendment and organized support from the Spanish-speaking community.

Frances Willard, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, organized for women to sign their petition to fight for women’s right to vote.

Ida B. Wells, a civil rights activist, refused to allow segregation to keep her from marching in the main procession with her state during the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade.

Although Native Americans were not granted citizenship and voting rights until 1924, Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, a Native American activist, fought for women’s right to vote.

Similarly, Mabel Lee, a Chinese activist, led marches in New York to have the Exclusion Act repealed to allow Chinese immigrants to become naturalized citizens so they could have the right to vote.

Women’s Equality Day doesn’t just commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment, but calls attention to the efforts toward full equality that continue to this day.

Women have made many important contributions to the quality of American life over the years. There is still much that can be done, but we are moving to a prosperous future.