To kick-off our celebration of Women’s Herstory Month, let’s travel back to the groovy days of 1970. Pervasive inequality pushed the Second-wave Feminist Movement forward into the next decade. Its Founding Mothers, including Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem established the National Organization for Women (NOW), a centralized force for change. NOW sponsored the Women’s Strike for Equality. On August 26, 1970, the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment passage (when women gained the right to vote), feminists and their allies in 40 American cities, as well as in France and the Netherlands, protested for gender equality. In New York City alone, 10,000 took to the streets to fight for their rights at home, in the classroom, and at the office. Radical feminists linked arms with “suffrage veterans” who had help secure voting rights for women five decades earlier. Check out images of the march from our Library’s archives!
New-York Historical Society’s dedication to American women’s history doesn’t end on March 31. Next year we will be opening our very own Center for the Study of Women’s History in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, which will showcase rotating exhibitions and re-imagined permanent installations dedicated to women’s history.
“Don’t iron while the strike is hot!” and “I am not a Barbie Doll!” were popular chants among the day’s marchers.
Question 7: “Have you ever resented it, even a little, that almost all the important political decisions are made by men?” This broadside quiz publicizing the protest showed women New Yorkers that the fight for gender equality was far from finished. After the march, 80 percent of Americans were familiar with the Women’s Movement and its demands.
The march reflected the diversity of the feminist movement. Participants demonstrated for gender equality, while garnering support for other causes: the anti-Vietnam War Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement were all represented.