By the President of the United States of America
August 26, 1978, is the 58th 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.
Women have made substantial progress toward full equality in recent years, partly as a result of the national debate on the Equal Rights Amendment, which has made many people aware of existing injustices. Despite this progress, strong action is still needed to guarantee women full equality of opportunity.
I personally believe that ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment can be the single most important step in guaranteeing all Americans-both women and men-their rights under the United States Constitution. This major step toward full equality for women has already been taken by 35 states, representing seventy-two percent of the population of this Nation. Only three more states must ratify the Equal Rights Amendment before it becomes a part of the Constitution. I believe this is too important and far-reaching an issue for arbitrary time barriers to limit full debate and an ultimate decision that truly reflects the will of the American people. In a society that is free, democratic and humane, there can be no time limit on equality.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1978, as Women's Equality Day and do hereby call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. 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 25th day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and third.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:05 p.m., August 25, 1978]