By the President of the United States of America
America struck a blow for justice on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, became law. On this 60th anniversary, American women and men recall how far we have come on the road toward equal opportunity for all Americans and reaffirm our commitment to full equality for women. We celebrate today the achievements of the past, but even more we celebrate our dream for a future in which all Americans share equally in the rights and responsibilities of this land.
Social and political change is never easy, as we know by the sacrifices of the early Suffragists. Courageous and high-principled, these women wrote, marched and argued for their cause through long years of delay and disappointment, but they never accepted defeat. Only a few weeks before her death at 86, Susan B. Anthony addressed a convention on the theme, "Failure is impossible!" They knew the rightness of their cause, and found the will and courage to create a climate of change. We can best honor their memory today by continuing their crusade.
In the intervening years women have faithfully carried out responsibilities at all levels of government, in every area of employment and education, and in the nurturing of families and children. Yet many of the rights that should accompany those responsibilities are missing. Despite our hard-won progress, the rights of women vary from state to state. The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which would set a clear national standard outlawing discrimination against women, is still an unfulfilled promise. Thanks to the efforts of millions of women and men, 35 states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. We have until June, 1982, to complete the ratification process in three more states and make the principle of equality a Constitutional guarantee.
Today, I reaffirm my own commitment to make the Equal Rights Amendment part of our Constitution. I urge all Americans to rekindle the spirit of early Suffragists, to use their energies, their wisdom and their compassion to achieve full equality for women. To advance the cause of women's rights is to advance the cause of human rights.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1980 as Women's Equality Day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., August 27, 1980]