Constitutional Amendments and Major Legislation


Amendment/Act Public Law/U.S. Code Main Provisions
Nineteenth Amendment      41 Stat. 362; 41 Stat. 1823Granted women the right to vote in the United States. Approved by the 66th Congress (1919–1921) as H. J. Res. 1 on June 4, 1919. Ratified by the states on August 18, 1920. 
Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act PL 67-97; 42 Stat. 224Provided for the education of the public about pregnancy and other prenatal issues. Allocated funds for health services for mothers and children, particularly in rural communities. Encouraged states to develop programs to serve women at lower income levels. Approved by the 67th Congress (1921–1923) as S. 1039.
Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) ActPL 77-554; 56 Stat. 278Authorized a voluntary enrollment program for up to 150,000 women to join the United States Army in a noncombat capacity to serve as medical care professionals, welfare workers, clerical workers, cooks, messengers, military postal employees, chauffeurs, and telephone and telegraph operators. Approved by the 77th Congress (1941–1943) as H.R. 6293.
The Equal Pay ActPL 88-38; 77 Stat. 56 Declared that no employer subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act could discriminate on the basis of sex in regards to the payment of wages for similar work. Permitted differences in wages based on seniority, merit, and type of work, or other factors. Forbade employers from reducing wages to comply with the act. Approved by the 88th Congress (1963–1965) as S. 1409.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights ActPL 88-352; 78 Stat. 253 Prohibited employers from discrimination in recruiting, hiring, advancement, and other terms and conditions of employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Approved by the 88th Congress (1963–1965) as H.R. 7152.
Higher Education Act of 1965 PL 89-329; 79 Stat. 1219 Authorized aid to poor and middle–class undergraduates and graduate programs for public school teachers. Authorized a National Teachers Corps to improve elementary and secondary education in impoverished areas. Created grants to improve college libraries, train librarians, and improve instruction in the sciences, humanities, arts, and education. Provided poor women the childcare support to allow them to attend school as well as low-interest loans to pay for a better education. Approved by the 89th Congress (1965–1967) as H.R. 9567.
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 PL 92-318, 86 Stat. 373Barred schools receiving federal funding from discrimination based on sex. Precludes qualified institutions from denying participation in and equal benefits to women for any school-related program or activity. Approved by the 92nd Congress (1971–1973) as S. 659. In 2002 President George W. Bush signed H.J. Res. 113, posthumously honoring a key author of the original bill by officially renaming the legislation the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
Equal Rights AmendmentNever RatifiedProposed constitutional amendment granting women equal protection under the law. Introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972. Passed by the 92nd Congress (1971–1973) on March 22, 1972, as H.J. Res. 208 by the requisite majorities and was sent to the states for ratification. Not ratified by a sufficient number of states despite a three-year extension until 1982 to the constitutionally-mandated seven-year deadline. Reintroduced in every session of Congress since that time.
Pregnancy Discrimination ActPL 95-555; 92 Stat. 2076Prohibited employers from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy status, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Approved by the 95th Congress (1977–1979) as S. 995.
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993PL 103-3; 107 Stat. 6Required businesses with 50 or more employees to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a one-year period to attend to the medical issues of immediate family members and employees' own serious medical conditions. Approved by the 103rd Congress (1993–1995) as H.R. 1.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994PL 103-322, 108 Stat. 1902Provided $1.6 billion to support investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. Included as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Approved by the 103rd Congress (1993–1995) as H.R. 3355.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009PL 111-2, 123 Stat. 5Stated that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck and allowed liability to accrue for up to two years preceding the charge. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Approved by the 111th Congress (2009–2011) as S. 181.
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013PL 113-4, 127 Stat. 54Previously reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, this reauthorization extended protection to same-sex couples and Native Americans living on reservations. Approved by the 113th Congress (2013–2015) as S. 47.