WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY, 1998By the President of the United States of America
Since the earliest days of our democracy, Americans have taken great pride and found great purpose in our pursuit of equality It is a right for which many have bravely struggled and the ideal that challenges us even today to build a more perfect union and to forge a future in which our children know no boundaries to their dreams. Each year, on Women's Equality Day, we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of full equality for women and girls in our society
This year, as we reflect on the magnificent journey and the extraordinary heroines and heroes of the women's rights movement in America, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first women's rights convention, which took place in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 and set our Nation on a course toward equality It was at this historic gathering that pioneers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann McClintock, and Frederick Douglass signed the Declaration of Sentiments-a document unequivocally affirming that all men and women are created equal. Encouraged by the truth of their convictions, these determined women and men set out to make equality for women a reality in America.
In the decades following the convention at Seneca Falls, many of the rights expressed in the prophetic Declaration of Sentiments became law. The ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution secured a woman's right to vote; the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred employment discrimination; and the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 guaranteed equal opportunity in education and sports.
This year, we recognize another milestone on the road to women's equality: the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, which for the first time in our Nation's history guaranteed equal pay to women who perform the same jobs as men. Only a generation ago, a woman could legally be paid less for her time and talent solely because of her gender. Today, we realize that the denial of equal pay not only unfairly limits a woman's ability to provide for her family's economic security, but also diminishes her dignity by belittling the value of her labor.
While we have made progress in closing this pay gap in the 35 years since the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, women today continue to make less than men for the same work--earning 76 cents for every dollar paid to a man. As we celebrate the Equal Pay Act's anniversary, we must reaffirm our commitment to making equal pay for equal work a reality in the workplace. My Administration supports new proposed legislation that will close the pay gap completely, strengthen enforcement of the Equal Pay Act, and toughen penalties for violations.
My Administration is striving to ensure women's equality in other areas of our society. We have dramatically increased the funding for research, prevention, and treatment of diseases that predominantly affect women. Through the Family and Medical Leave Act that I signed and our proposed child care initiative, we are working to help women balance their responsibilities at home and on the job. During the past 5 years, the Small Business Administration has tripled loans to women-owned businesses, and we have strengthened enforcement of Title IX to ensure that education programs, activities, and institutions receiving Federal funds do not discriminate on the basis of gender.
On Women's Equality Day, as we look back on what we have accomplished, we also recognize how far we have to go before we complete the journey that began so long ago. As women continue to distinguish themselves in boardrooms, classrooms, courtrooms, and family rooms across America, we must renew our efforts to empower all women with the rights and opportunities promised by our founders and fought for by the heroic women and men whose achievements we honor today
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1998, as Women's Equality Day I call upon the citizens of our great Nation to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON