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NEWomen is a women's health service based in Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia. We had a query today from someone who is planning a celebration on International Women's Day. She asked why women's colors are purple, green and white. We have three anecdotal answers to this, but wondered if you have the definitive (or even just another) version. - Debra

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM--and for taking a chance on a stranger.

From a book entitled Amazons, Bluestockings and Crones: A Feminist Dictionary (edited by Cheris Kramarae & Paula A. Treichler) I discovered the following entry that might help to answer your question:

"Colors were important in the iconography of the suffrage movement. The use of the color gold began with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony's campaign in Kansas in 1867 and derived from the color of the sunflower, the Kansas state symbol. Suffragists used gold pins, ribbons, sashes, and yellow roses to symbolize their cause. In 1876, during the U.S. Centennial, women wore yellow ribbons and sang the song "The Yellow Ribbon." In 1916, suffragists staged "The Golden Lane" and the national Democratic convention; to reach the convention hall, all delegates had to walk through a line of women stretching several blocks long, dressed in white with gold sashes, carrying yellow umbrellas, and accompanied by hundreds of yards of draped gold bunting. Gold also signified enlightenment, the professed goal of the mainstream U.S. suffrage movement. A second color theme was the use of the tricolors purple, white, and gold. These colors originated with the Women's Suffrage and Political Union in England; symbolizing loyalty, purity, and hope, they were brought to the U.S. by women who had worked in the British suffrage movement. The purple, white, and gold of the modern women's movement has their origins with the NWP. The nearly 100,000 women who marched in Washington, D.C. in 1978, in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, wore white, with pins, sashes, and ribbons of green, purple, and gold. Green and white are the colors of the National Organization for Women. Lavender is a color associated with lesbian, and other woman-identified women."