Women’s Rights  

What you need to know about Women’s Rights

The modern Women’s Rights movement in America can trace its roots back to 1848 … more than one hundred and sixty years ago. That is when the very first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York and about the time when the National American Women’s Suffrage Association was born.

The first great push of the Women’s Rights movement took shape at that time. And it was for the express purpose of getting women the right to vote in elections. From the time of the founding of the country in 1776, women and slaves imported from Africa had no rights or freedom. While it was certainly much worse for African slaves, life was not great for “free” American women, as well.

Womens RightsTheir roles were very well defined. They were meant to be mother, wife, homemaker … and little more than that. Women had no professional life, little or no chance of entering the workplace and, generally, little input into daily life in their own homes, too. Men ruled and were completely dominant in all aspects of personal and professional life.

It remained that way for most of the 18th Century, all of the 19th Century and into a part of the 20th Century, as well. But, then as now, there were women who could not accept the status quo. They craved equality … opportunity … and a chance to excel outside the home. And, more than anything else, they wanted the right to vote.

That right would not come easily … but it would eventually be given to women, very slowly at first. In fact, the first state to give women that right was Colorado. Their state legislature voted to allow women suffrage (voting rights) in 1893. Just three years later, in 1896, the states of Utah and Idaho followed Colorado’s lead. In 1900, Washington came on board. By 1917, some eastern states, including New York, adopted the same right for its female residents.

In time, of course, all fifty states voted to allow women the right to vote. And that is the way it stands today. Naturally, as women gained what they sought in America’s voting booths, their attention turned to other “women’s issues,” such as birth control, equal opportunity in the workplace … and, of course, equal pay. Progress in these areas was slow, just as it had been in the Suffrage Movement. But, nothing stays the same forever.

Beginning in 1916, when Margaret Sanger opened the first Birth Control clinic in New York, the Women’s Rights Movement pushed relentlessly forward seeking to force both cultural and legal change in America. It didn’t happen quickly, but, over time, it did happen.

Birth control clinics dot the American landscape today and their existence can be attributed to the early, pioneering efforts of Margaret Sanger, a feminist and activist who risked ridicule, scorn and even imprisonment nearly one hundred years ago.

Clearly, the issues that enliven the Women’s Rights Movement today are different from those that caused a stir so long ago. Moreover, the leaders have changed, too, and are not currently as well-known as the trailblazers of the previous century.

It will be interesting to see where the Women’s Rights Movement goes … or if it even remains healthy and active as equality has, for the most part, been achieved. In fact, these days more women attend college and more women are in the work force. Perhaps it’s time for a Men’s Rights Movement.