Secretary Jewell Applauds President Obama’s Designation of New Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

Historic announcement to be made on National Equal Pay Day; Designation comes with $1 million donation to National Park Foundation from Philanthropist David Rubenstein and virtual tour experience from Google.


Last edited 09/29/2021

 Date: April 11, 2016
Contacts: Jessica Kershaw (Interior),
Jeremy Barnum (National Park Service)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded President Obama’s announcement of the designation of the newly named Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, formerly the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, permanently protecting the site that became emblematic of the mission to advance women’s rights throughout the 20th century. 

The announcement will be celebrated at a ceremony tomorrow at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument with President Obama and Secretary Jewell on Equal Pay Day, the nationally recognized symbolic day in which a woman’s pay catches up to her male counterparts from the year prior. President Obama has made equal pay a top priority in his administration, taking a number of steps to fight for pay equity and annually recognizing through Equal Pay Day that women should earn wages equal to their male colleagues. President Obama and Secretary Jewell will be joined by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, executive director of the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum Page Harrington and local leaders.

“The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National 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,” said Secretary Jewell. “This designation memorializes the efforts of the National Woman’s Party into a permanent piece of history, preserving the treasures of their work in these walls for the benefit of future generations. 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.”

Additionally, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has contributed $1 million dollars to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks to repair and restore the building for future generations. This is Mr. Rubenstein’s fourth gift to the $350 million campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the Foundation’s history. Google has also announced that they are creating an Expedition, a virtual tour of the monument, to enable schools – no matter where they are – to tour this important historic landmark. Expeditions is a new product that allows teachers to take their classes on virtual field trips, immersing students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life and giving students a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom.

Located on Capitol Hill, the Sewall-Belmont House – as the property has been known since its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1974 – contains a museum, library, and extensive collections and archives associated with the National Woman’s Party (NWP), its founder Alice Paul, and the mission to advance women's suffrage and equal rights throughout the 20th century. From this house, Paul rewrote the Equal Rights Amendment, which became known as the “Alice Paul Amendment,” and led the fight for its passage in Congress. Paul and the NWP advocated tirelessly for women’s political, social, and economic equality, not just in the United States, but internationally.

The site will be managed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the National Women’s Party. Tomorrow’s designation follows a community meeting between Secretary Jewell, Director Jarvis, local officials, National Woman’s Party leaders and at least 200 community members to hear the public’s vision for the future management of the Belmont-Paul house. 

“We are honored to be entrusted with the stewardship of Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument as the newest unit of the National Park System,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The National Woman’s Party and the National Park Service were both created in 1916. As we celebrate our centennial anniversary this year, we are dedicated to sharing this monument to women’s equality with future generations.”

“I am honored to be a part of helping to educate current and future generations of Americans about the sacrifices and achievements of so many brave people in the struggle for women’s rights and equality in the U.S.,” said David M. Rubenstein, Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group.

“From its inception, the national park system has benefited from private philanthropic support,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, “Mr. Rubenstein continues this incredible tradition today by providing financial support to ensure that the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is open and accessible to visitors to learn and appreciate the rich history of this place and the women who led the way for women’s equality.”

Efforts to protect the former Sewall Belmont House date back to the early 1970s, and more recently proposals to include the site in the National Park System have garnered Congressional support – including bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski – as well as strong support from local elected officials, community leaders, women’s organizations, conservation groups and historians. The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument becomes the 9th unit of the National Park System devoted to women’s history and an important part of the National Park Service’s efforts to tell the stories of women’s contributions to our Nation’s history and culture.

New additions to the National Park System can be accomplished by an act of Congress or by presidential designation. The first step in that process is frequently a National Park Service study, like the one completed last year for Belmont-Paul National Monument. In Congress, a bill can be introduced to designate an area as a national park unit. That bill must then be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, then signed into law by the president. 

A unit of the National Park System can also be created through the use of the Antiquities Act, which allows the president to designate a site as a national monument. Since the enactment of the Antiquities Act by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, 16 presidents have used the authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients and more than 140 national monuments. Later, Congress has often revisited these areas and re-designated them as national parks or other types of National Park System units. Almost half of the national parks in the National Park System today were first protected as national monuments under the Antiquities Act. 

With today’s designation, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 23 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President – as well as preserved sites that help tell the story of significant people or extraordinary events in American history, such as Cèsar E. Chàvez National Monument in California, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

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