Governor Pat Quinn today joined women leaders from across Illinois to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the passage of legislation that gave women the right to vote. During a ceremony at the James R. Thompson Center, Governor Quinn proclaimed today as Women's Equality Day in Illinois, and highlighted the state's efforts to combat gender-based discrimination and to protect women's rights to equal pay for equal work.
"Dedicated women throughout history have enriched society, the economy and our families. Today we honor their courageous fight for equality," said Governor Quinn. "I am proud to continue the fight to strengthen our labor and human rights laws to protect women's fundamental rights."
Last year Governor Quinn expanded protections under Illinois' Equal Pay Act by extending the time period for individuals to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor and the statute of limitations for individuals to sue for back pay in court. Governor Quinn also signed a new law that requires all institutions of higher education covered by the Illinois Human Rights Act to prominently display posters outlining sexual harassment laws and policies.
"I am proud to host today's Women's Equality Day celebration. Our department has been working diligently to ensure freedom from unlawful discrimination and to promote equal opportunity and affirmative action for all individuals in Illinois through enforcement of the Illinois Human Rights Act," said Rocco Claps, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. "Today's celebration reminds us of our duty to protect women from gender-based discrimination."
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution became law on Aug. 26, 1920, granting women the right to vote. That day also marks the 90th Anniversary of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, created by the U.S. Congress in recognition of the challenges confronted by women in the workplace.
"As we remember the challenges faced by so many women on Women's Equality Day, I am pleased of our Department's tireless efforts to ensure all workers receive wages they're entitled to, whether it's equal pay for equal work, minimum wage or overtime," said Catherine Shannon, Director, Illinois Department of Labor. "We will continue to ensure pay equity in the workplace."
Along with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the commemoration was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau, Illinois Department of Labor and the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Women.
Former WGN-TV personality Merri Dee emceed the event, which was attended by representatives from the Young Women's Leadership Charter School, dozens of state agencies and health care and social service organizations. Actresses portrayed famous suffragists and other women who fought to improve women's rights. Governor Quinn's mother Eileen Quinn, who will turn 93 this October, also attended the event.