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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 25, 1999




The theme for America's celebration of the coming millennium is "honor the past -- imagine the future," a theme that could also describe our annual observance of Women's Equality Day. On this special day, we honor the past by remembering the decades-long struggle of visionary and determined women and men who fought for women's suffrage. Seventy-nine years ago, their efforts were rewarded with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote and moved our Nation forward on the path toward equal civil and political rights for all Americans.

This year we also mark the 35th anniversary of another hard-fought victory for women's equality: the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which -- among other things -- prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of gender. Title VII guarantees women equal access to jobs, promotions, pay, and benefits, empowering them to provide for themselves and their families and to achieve their highest aspirations. This historic legislation benefits our entire Nation by strengthening America's workforce and economy through the contributions of millions of Americans whose talents in the past had too often been ignored or excluded.

We also celebrate Women's Equality Day by imagining the future -- a future where women will receive equal pay for equal work, where our social structures will help women and men to balance better the responsibilities of job and family, where there will be no ceilings to prevent women from rising as far and as fast as their talents will take them. Such a future seems possible when we reflect on the extraordinary feats women have achieved this summer alone. The entire world was captivated by the energy, skill, teamwork, and determination of the women soccer players from around the globe who competed in the Women's World Cup; and all America rejoiced when the U.S. team won a breathtaking victory. Just 13 days later, Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins, commander of Space Shuttle Mission STS-93, became the first woman to command a mission in space.

With a rich past, an exciting present, and a future of limitless possibilities, women have much to celebrate on this Women's Equality Day, and all Americans have much to be grateful for as we reflect on the countless contributions women make to the quality of our lives and the well-being of our Nation.

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, 1999, 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 twenty-fourth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


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