Women's Rights Movement
How did the Womenís Rights Movement come about? Women were not allowed to vote. Typically, they were unable to attend college. Often, they could not get jobs, and if they did, they were paid less than men for the same work. They could not own property, and in some cases, if they had money and got married, the money became the husbandís property. The Womenís Rights Movement started because women were sick of the unfair treatment. Women have fought for equality and rights since ancient times, but with little to no success until the 19th and 20th century Womenís Rights Movement.
Womenís Rights Movement in America
The American Womenís Rights Movement in 1848 paved the way for the declaration that revolutionalized womenís lives. Women demanded equality in all areas of civil, economic, and private life. Beginning in the 1960ís, women wanted to change the traditional unfairness in order to exercise the rights for women in favor of men. Today, American women are living the legacy of the great progress women have made in all areas but continue to strive for full and true equality.
For centuries, women were thought to be the passive gender. A woman was suppose to be silent and submissive; her job was to be docile and obedient; a loving wife who was completely compliant to the men around her. Women were to obey their fathers after birth and their husbands after marriage. A typical day consisted of maintaining the house, taking care of the children, preparing meals, and being elegant. Women had very few rights in the early 20th century. Within a decade, women began to take a stance for independence and equal rights.
The Beginning of the Womenís Rights Movement
On July 9, 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and four other women gathered in a parlor for tea and cake. They began to express anger about their ability or lack thereof, to own property or vote. Their conversation then changed on how they could revolutionize it. When they left that day, it was to organize what is believed to have been the first womenís rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York (Collins, 1999). That convention, along with the Declaration of Sentiments written by Stanton which was approved there, was credited with initiating the long struggle towards womenís rights and woman suffrage (Lewis, n.d.).
Women were tired of being constrained to home life and male dependency with no rights for themselves, their property, wages, or guardianship of their children. Women began to free themselves from these constraints and tried to limit the exclusive power of men. However, 1848 was only the beginning of the fight for womenís rights. It would be many years before they actually achieved any of these rights.
1960 Brings About Change
Starting in the 1960ís, women began protesting for equal rights. The traditional images of women seen as nothing more than a housewife and mother angered many women and made them want to change this stereotype. Important cultural changes were changing the role of women in America.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Presidentís Commission on the Status of Women. Chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and made up of female political, business, and educational leaders, the commission was asked to report on the progress women had made in six areas. The final report called for greater equality in the workplace and made recommendations for improvement. These improvements include fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable child care (Imbornoni, 2013). Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 making it illegal for employers to pay women less than men for the same job. In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination for a job based on race and sex. At the same time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established to investigate complaints and enforce penalties. In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded by a group of feminists. NOW is the largest womenís rights group in the United States and seeks to end sexual discrimination, especially in the workplace (Imbornoni, 2013).
Couples were now allowed to mutually divorce, and women were entering the professional world. One of the most profound changes occurred after the federal government approved the birth control pill. This would free women from unwanted pregnancies. The movement was finally succeeding,