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Obama establishes the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument in Washington D.C. in honor of women's rights

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President Barack Obama designated a historic Washington, D.C., home that's central to the women's rights movement as a national monument.


The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum is now the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument.


Alva Belmont and Alice Paul were key figures in the women's rights and suffrage movements.


Paul founded the National Woman's Party and was the chief strategist, as Belmont was a major benefactor.


The home located on 144 Constitution Avenue NE near the Supreme Court and Senate office building is one of the oldest historic mansions in the capital.

It was first built around 1800 by Robert Sewall and the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin moved in to use the home during the Jefferson Administration.

In 1812, the home was the only site of resistance to the British invasion of D.C. and was burned down, according to Curbed. It was rebuilt by Sewall shortly after.


Obama traveled to the site on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, when National Equal Pay Day is observed.

'Equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principal of our economy,' Obama said at the site.

'It's the idea that whether you're a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded whether you are a man or a woman.

'It's a simple idea, it's a simple principal ... It's one where we still fall short. Today the typical woman who works full time earns 79 cents for every dollar that a typical man makes.

'The gap is even wider for women of color -  the typical black woman makes only 60 cents, the Latina woman 55 cents for every dollar that a white man earns.'

Obama said that America should be a level playing field.


He then highlighted how he has made equal pay for women a major platform in his policy.

Obama noted that he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination, and has issued executive orders prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees who discuss or inquire about their compensation.

He also urged that Congress needs to pass the Pay Check Fairness Act 'to put sensible rules in place.'

'I'm not here just to say we should close the wage gap. I'm here to say we will close the wage gap,' Obama said.

The president added that he hopes young people will come to the home and draw inspiration for years to come.

'This house is a monument to the fight for women's equality,' Obama said.

He also said  he looks forward to a time when girls are 'astonished' that women once made less than men and a female had never occupied the Oval Office.

Obama added that he's not sure when that time will come, but 'I know we're getting closer to that day.'

The president has not endorsed a successor, but his comment is the latest in a series that suggest he's rooting for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In announcing the plans for the house, the White House said: '[The] designation will permanently protect one of the oldest standing houses near the U.S. Capitol and help preserve an extensive archival collection that documents the history, strategies, tactics and accomplishments of the movement to secure women's suffrage and equal rights in the United States and across the globe'.

The declaration says: 'The political strategies and tactics of Alice Paul and the NWP became a blueprint for civil rights organizations and activities throughout the 20th century.

'Today, the House tells the story of a century of courageous activism by American women.'

The National Woman's Party bought the house in 1929 and uses it as its headquarters, advocating for equality and full political representation for women.

The site will be managed by the National Parks Service.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement Monday according to The Washington Post that the monument 'will honor and forever remind us of the risk, the work and the dedication of those who gathered in this house to fight for women's equality.

'We must never forget their hard-fought struggle for the right to vote and equal rights for women under the law.

'The timing could not be more symbolic as we mark National Equal Pay Day, an important reminder that women are still fighting for equality today.'


Tags: Barack Obama Washington women's rights movement national monument

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