In the face of all of the anti-women legislature that’s being pushed through our government, it can be difficult to stay hopeful. Let’s not forget, however, that women have been working for centuries to improve their quality of rights. Below I’ve listed a reminder of a few issues that women have dealt with along the way to get us where we are:
– Starting in 1839 with Mississippi, states began to pass laws allowing women to own property separate from their husbands. Before this, any money or property that a woman had going into a marriage became the property of the husband. These laws did not extend to marital property rights, however – in divorce law, husbands still generally kept legal custody of children and property.
– In 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, NY. Debates lasted for two days and at the end, 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments, which set the agenda for the women’s rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions was adopted, calling for the equal treatment of men and women under the law and voting rights for women.
– In May of 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. Their primary goal was to secure voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.
– In 1920, suffragists finally achieved their main goal – the constitutional right for women to vote.
– 1963 brought about the Equal Pay Act, requiring men and women earn equal wages for equal work. Before this, women could be paid less, even if they worked harder or had more laborious jobs than men. As we know, the wage gap has lessened, but not been eradicated – women still earn .77 to the $1.00 that men earn.
– In 1973, as we all know, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a law allowing women to have (rightful) reproductive choice – states could no longer restrict women from choosing to have an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.
Other areas of struggle: Women prostitutes were prosecuted while their male customers remained unpunished (still an issue to this day); women earned the right to divorce in the mid-1800s, but were not looked upon favorably until mid- to late-1900s; women would be prosecuted at maximum sentence for shooting a man, but men would have a much lighter sentence. I could continue on for pages, but you get my point.
We know what struggle means and we can keep fighting for our innate rights. Equality is not just a possibility – it’s our future.