5 Trailblazing Women’s Equality Activists You Should Know

Each of these fabulous females dedicated their lives to making the world a more just place

Aug 23, 2017
Women march for equality in San Diego.

(andyparker72/Shutterstock)

Women's Equality Day, celebrated on August 26 in the United States, is an understated annual day that commemorates a turning point in the history of women’s rights, the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote. It seems fitting to mark this day by highlighting the stories of some of the women who played a pivotal role in the fight for women’s rights and dedicated their lives to equality. They many not all be household names, but each one worked tirelessly to create a better future for women across America and the world. 

1. ADDIE L. WYATT

Addie L. Wyatt is known for being the first African-American woman elected international vice president of a major labor union after working her way up through the ranks in the 1950s and 60s during a time when such an achievement was extremely rare for a woman of her background.

In 1975 she was named as one of Time magazine's 12 Women of the Year with the publication recognizing her for "speaking out effectively against sexual and racial discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay."

Rev. Addie L. Wyatt

Addie L. Wyatt "always believed in being fair and honest, and she stood for what was right." (The Bluegrass Special)

2. BETTY FRIEDAN

In 1966 Betty Friedan co-founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which aimed to create a more equal society. Published in 1963 her book ‘The Feminine Mystique’ is said to have sparked the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century.

On August 26 1970 she organized and led the nationwide Women's Strike for Equality which gave a major boost to the women’s rights movement and in 1971 she joined other leading feminists to establish the National Women's Political Caucus. 

Betty Friedan

3. FLORYNCE KENNEDY

With her trademark cowboy hat and pink sunglasses, Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy was a flamboyant feminist who took her activism very seriously. She was one of the first black women to graduate from Columbia Law School and during the late 1960s and 70s, she was America’s most well-known black feminist, mainly because of her work as a lawyer helping to repeal New York’s restrictive abortion laws. Kennedy was not afraid to speak her mind and often organized radical events where activists could meet and share ideas.

Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy with her trademark cowboy hat

Kennedy was never afraid to speak her mind. (RonSherman)

4. ESTELLE GRISWOLD

Estelle Griswold was instrumental in bringing about the United States Supreme Court's overturning of Connecticut's law against the use of contraceptives. In 1961, while executive director of what was then the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, she helped open a birth control clinic and was subsequently arrested and found guilty of violating an antibirth control law.

After a long legal battle, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction in 1965, paving the way for greater equality regarding planned parenthood and women’s rights in general. 

Estelle Griswold (L), medical advisor and executive director of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in New Haven, and Mrs. Ernest Jahncke, president of Parenthood League of Connecticut, Inc., flash a victory sign as a result of the court’s decision that Connecticut’s birth control law was unconstitutional

Estelle Griswold (L), medical advisor and executive director of the Planned Parenthood Clinic in New Haven, and Mrs. Ernest Jahncke, president of Parenthood League of Connecticut, Inc., flash a victory sign as a result of the court’s decision that Connecticut’s birth control law was unconstitutional (2015 Bettmann/Corbis / Associated Press)

5. MARTHA GRIFFITHS

Martha Griffiths was the first woman elected to Congress from Michigan as a member of the Democratic Party and played a major role in including the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During her time as an active politician she sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment, one of only a few proposed amendments to pass in Congress and be sent to the states for ratification.

Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Michigan

Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Michigan. (Library of Congress/Public Domain)

YONI COHEN, EDITOR & WRITER
A Geography geek to his core, Yoni is a proud introvert and is happiest when traveling, dancing, baking, doing yoga, running or taking pictures of beautiful flowers. He writes about mindfulness, introversion, travel and the benefits of slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life.

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