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Obama Inaugurates Monument to Women's Equality

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama speaks at the newly designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, on National Equal Pay Day, in Washington, April 12, 2016.

President Barack Obama speaks at the newly designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, on National Equal Pay Day, in Washington, April 12, 2016.

U.S. President Barack Obama designated a historic house in Washington as a monument honoring the movement for women's equality in the country.

“Today [April 12] is Equal Pay Day. Which means a woman has to work about this far into 2016 just to earn what a man earned in 2015," Obama said in a speech at what it now called the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument.

The name honors activist and suffragist Alva Belmont, a former president of the National Woman's Party that fought for equality, as well as party founder Alice Paul.

“What better place to commemorate this day than here at this house, where some of our country’s most important history took place," Obama said.

The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is located at what had been known as the Sewall-Belmont House, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, in Washington, D.C.

The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is located at what had been known as the Sewall-Belmont House, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, in Washington, D.C.

The president acknowledged the hard work done by the women who fought for the right to vote, as well as some of those in attendance, such as former tennis star Billy Jean King and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

He cited figures on the wage gap in the U.S., stressing that "the gap is even wider for women of color."

'We will close the wage gap'

"But I'm not here to say we should close the wage gap, we will close the wage gap," Obama said, urging Congress to "pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to put sensible rules in place."

The White House said the move Tuesday will help preserve an archive documenting the "history, strategies, tactics and other accomplishments" of the movement to achieve voting and equal rights for women in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

President Barack Obama's limousine sits in front of the newly designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, in Washington, April 12, 2016.

President Barack Obama's limousine sits in front of the newly designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, in Washington, April 12, 2016.

The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is located at what had been known as the Sewall-Belmont House, which the National Woman's Party began using as its headquarters in 1929.

The main house there dates back to 1800 and sits next to a Senate office building and is one block from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Inside are items such as the desk of women's suffrage icon Susan B. Anthony and a banner used during the first protests demanding that women be allowed to vote.

Women finally earned that right in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

WATCH: President Obama designates monument for women's equality movement

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