Many events throughout history show the struggles and triumphs of women in the fight toward equality. Some of these events weave into the history of the National Council of Women of the United States. Some of this history is highlighted in the following timeline.
1848—The first women’s rights convention, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott was held in Seneca Falls, NY. The convention yielded “The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” and among its resolutions, declared that “woman is equal to man”.
1851–Former slave, abolitionist, and fierce advocate for women’s rights, Sojourner Truth, delivers her famous ” Ain’t I A Woman” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.
1869–Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association. Lucy Stone forms the American Woman Suffrage Association. Both groups pursued the right to vote for women.
1888—The International Council for Women (ICW) and the National Council of Women of the United States (NCWUS) are founded at a conference called by the National Woman Suffrage Association in Washington DC. Constitutions for both organizations were formalized on March 31, 1888. Frances Willard became the first president of the National Council of Women of the United States, with Susan B. Anthony as Vice President and May Wright Seawall as Corresponding Secretary.
1904—Susan B. Anthony presides over the conference of the International Council of Women in Berlin. Hannah Solomon, founder and first president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), represented NCWUS.
1906—Susan B. Anthony dies at her home in Rochester, New York. She took ill while on her way home from the National Suffrage Convention in Baltimore. Days before her death, according to the New York Times’ March 13, 1906 account, Mrs. Anthony said to her friend, Anna Shaw, “To think I have had more than sixty years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”
1908—March 8 International Women’s Day is inaugurated and celebrated for the first time. 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights
1913—Alice Paul from Moorestown, NJ organizes a parade of suffragettes in Washington DC, March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration.
1920—The 19th Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, is ratified by Congress. The Amendment states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
1933—President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints Frances Perkins as the first female Secretary of Labor. In this “New Deal” era, many women, including Mary McLeod Bethune who became director of the Negro Affairs Division of the National Youth Administration, obtained positions in federal service bureaus at the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Democratic women’s leader Molly Dewson.
1945–The United Nations Charter is signed, and declared in part that: “the peoples of the United Nations . . . reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women . . . .”
1946—The Commission on the Status of Women is established by the United Nations. Its mandate as stated was to: “prepare recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields” and to make recommendations “on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women’s rights.”
1943–Ruth Handy, 4th National President of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women became a member of the National Council of Women.
1948–Eleanor Roosevelt heads the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and obtains passage of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
1955—Rosa Parks is arrested when she refuses to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act advances the modern civil rights movement for racial equality which spurs the second wave of feminism to seek broader gender equality.
1961—The President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. The Commission successfully pushes for passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, the first federal law to require equal compensation for men and women in federal jobs.
1964—Job discrimination on the basis on the race or gender is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is established to address discrimination claims.
1966—Betty Friedan founds the National Organization for Women. The organization promotes child care for working mothers, abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment.
1972--Title IX of the Education Amendments Act passes. The Act guarantees equal access to academic and athletic resources regardless of gender.
1972–Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm becomes the first woman and the first African-American to run for a place on the presidential ticket of a major party during the Democratic primary,
1972—President Nixon signs the Equal Rights Amendment after its passage by both houses of Congress banning discrimination on the basis of gender.
1979--The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, and became effective in 1981.
1981—Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed to the US Supreme Court becoming the first female justice appointed to the Court.
1984—Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman nominated as the vice presidential candidate to a major political party.
1993–Janet Reno is appointed by President Bill Clinton and becomes the first woman U.S. Attorney General. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also nominated by President Bill Clinton, becomes the second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.
1997— Madeleine K. Albright, nominated by President Bill Clinton, becomes first woman US Secretary of State. Before that, she served as United Nations Ambassador.
2000–Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, is elected to the United States Senate, representing New York. She later served as Secretary of State (2009-2013) under President Barack Obama.
2001–Linda Chavez is nominated by President Bush to the position of Secretary of Labor, making her the first Hispanic woman to be nominated to a United States Cabinet position.
2003—Mary E. Singletary elected as the President of National Council of Women U.S. (NCWUS)
2004– Wangari Maathai, PhD, Kenyan environmental activist is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, becoming the first black African woman to win a Nobel Prize.
2005–Condoleezza Rice becomes the first African-American woman appointed Secretary of State in President George W. Bush.
2007–Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
2009–Sonia Sotomayor is nominated to the US Supreme Court and becomes the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
2009-NCWUS’ First Susan B. Anthony Humanitarian Award was presented to Ann Gloag of Scotland for her Humanitarian Advocacy at the United Nations
2014—NCWUS’ second Susan B. Anthony Award presented to Dr. Eleanor Baum, Dean Emeritus of Cooper Union’s Albert Nerken School of Engineering, the First women engineer to become Dean of a Engineering School.
March 28, 2014 Cooper Union for Advancementof Science and Art
2014—NCWUS celebrates 125 years of history with a day-long symposium at The Cooper Union for Adcancement of Science and Art. The symposium held in the Great Hall where Susan B. Anthony gave many of her speeches. The symposium was attended by many dignitaries. The Council received proclamations of congratulations from President Obama, Governor Mario Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
2014–Malala Yousafzai becomes the youngest female recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, two years after being shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education for girls.
Today—The fight for equality is still being waged on many fronts in many countries around the world. Despite the increase in the number of women leaders, notably in Africa, women worldwide are still seeking more political influence, better education for themselves and their children, access to affordable health reform, pay equity, and equality under the law.