Thank a Jewish Feminist for Women’s Equality Day
By Natasha Mayer
On August 26th, we observe Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920 which gave women the right to vote. It’s important to remember that while the 19th Amendment and the women’s suffrage movement leading up to it were vital steps toward equality for women, women of color had to wait decades longer for their voting rights, and voter suppression still happens in communities of color today.
Women’s Equality Day was first introduced before Congress in 1971 by New York Congresswomen Bella Abzug. Abzug is the namesake of JWFNY partner Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, and the mother of its founder, Liz Abzug. Bella Abzug was a fierce feminist and advocate for women, and was one of the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus, along with noted feminists including Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan. President Jimmy Carter appointed Abzug the Chair of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, and also as Co-Chair of the National Advisory Commission on Women. A social entrepreneur herself, she co-founded, along with Mim Kelber, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization to promote gender equity and environmental justice. Abzug received numerous honors: she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, honored by the United Nations as a leading female environmentalist, and named one of “50 Women Who Made American Political History” by Time Magazine. We are grateful to Bella Abzug for the Jewish feminist legacy she left behind.