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U.S. Women’s History Since 1877

The history of women in the United States includes the accomplishments and lived realities of women throughout American history. Native Americans were the first to establish residence in what is now the United States as women. Under Protestant principles, women’s duties in the 19th century were predominantly domestic. With the ratification of the Nineteenth Section to the U.S. Charter in 1920, the fight for woman’s liberation in the country came to a successful conclusion. Several women took over the responsibilities that males took on while serving abroad during World War Two. Despite failing to achieve the Equal Rights Amendments, the second-wave feminist campaign began to alter how people thought about women in the 1960s. Women now play more significant positions in American society than in the 20th century. Women in the United States were given the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was enacted in 1920. American women have made significant progress toward women’s rights since this moment, particularly in recent decades. Women’s rights have come a long way in the United States since 1877. The 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote and participate in politics, was enacted in 1920, guaranteeing women the right to suffrage. Many pieces of legislation, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, have been established since then to secure the security and progress of women. Women’s rights still need a lot more work, but it’s vital to recognize the advancements that have been accomplished. This paper will look at how far women’s rights have come in the United States since 1877, highlighting the efforts of activists from all backgrounds and the laws and policies put in place to secure the safety and advancement of women.

Several laws and policies were established that ensure women have equal rights to every individual; the first act was The Equal Pay Act of 1963; the act forbids companies from discriminating against workers based on their sex by paying them different compensation for functionally the same work. The U.S. government’s dedication to ensuring that all employees get equal pay for equivalent labor was signaled by the passage of the Equal Pay Act (Hirschman, pg. 4). According to the Act, regardless of gender, companies must pay men and women equally for the same employment. Employers are required to pay workers of the opposite sex the very same salaries for doing the same job under this rule, which forbids wage sex discrimination (Hirschman, pg. 4). Also, it forbids companies from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation. Companies with 15 or more workers must comply with the Fair Pay Act, which regulates all types of remuneration, including salaries, overtime pay, incentives, company stock, income, and bonuses. To follow the law, employers are not permitted to lower salaries. Federal, state, and municipal government employers are also covered under the Fair Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act was the first piece of law to ensure that employers should pay men and women equally for equivalent work (Hirschman, pg. 4). The Act, which is still a significant component of labor legislation today, was a significant milestone in the struggle for workplace women’s rights. It has aided in closing the female pay gap and giving women more influence by ensuring equal pay for equivalent labor. The overall income disparity in the United States has been partly decreased because of the Fair Pay Act. The second law was the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978; the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy, delivery, or associated ailments. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids sex-based discrimination, was amended by its enactment (Brake et al. pg. 67). The PDA gives women more power by preventing employment discrimination based on a woman’s pregnant status. Moreover, it mandates that businesses provide pregnant workers the same benefits as non-pregnant workers, including leave plans, health insurance, and other accommodations. Also, the PDA forbids companies from making pregnant workers take unpaid leave or lose their jobs (Brake et al., pg. 67). This rule guarantees that pregnant workers may continue working without worrying about discrimination and enables them to preserve financial stability both during and after delivery.

Several movements empowered women in America; the first women’s movement after the 19th Amendment of the America constitution was the women’s suffrage movement, the Seneca Falls Conference of 1848, largely regarded as the first organized drive for women’s freedoms in the country, marked the beginning of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the middle of the 19th century. Women voiced their complaints and proclaimed the movement’s guiding principles during the conference (Foner pg. 111). They also created a Statement of Sentiments, which criticized laws restricting male voting and demanded equal privileges for women. While significant progress was achieved in the next centuries, the movement only started to take off in the early 20th century. The movement was fueled by several ideas, such as the notion that women should have the same rights as men, the pressures of other progressive movements, and the ambition to participate in politics. Women ought to enjoy the same democratic freedom as males, according to the movement’s proponents, and they should have a significant say in how the country develops in the future. But, the campaign was not without its detractors (Foner pg. 111). Some said that women lacked the knowledge and experience required to enter political authority, while others contended that the ability to vote was a luxury rather than a right. The movement, according to many, also threatened the sanctity of the home and was an insult to conventional gender norms. While it took decades of arduous labor and commitment, the movement eventually achieved its objectives. The Women’s Suffrage Campaign is a compelling illustration of how people may band together to affect social change. The ratification of the 19th Amendment was a significant turning point for women’s rights in the United States, but campaigners’ work still needed to be done. The next stage was ensuring women could benefit from the same legal safeguards and freedoms as males. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was eventually introduced in 1923. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was created to ensure that women have legal equality, but it wasn’t passed until 1972.

The second movement was the civil rights movement in the 1950s; Black Americans in the United States fought for equal rights throughout the 1950s and 1960s via a political, economic, and legal cultural movement such as the Civil Rights Movement (Foner pg. 165). The movement greatly influenced America, influencing legislation and starting a national dialogue about race in society. The Civil Rights Movement is often examined regarding its achievements, setbacks, and social and lasting effects. The movement’s strategies, such as nonviolent demonstrations, direct action, and legal challenges, are also covered. The Civil Rights Movement’s impact on other progressive movements, including the anti-war, women’s, and LGBTQ movement patterns, is also highlighted. Women’s rights in the United States were significantly impacted by the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s (Bloom, pg. 256). Women of all racial backgrounds started to understand the significance of collective action in the struggle for equality of the sexes as Black Americans struggled for the right to vote and access to amenities like public schooling and medical care. Particularly engaged in the movement and fighting for the rights of all women were women of color.

The civil rights movement was heavily influenced by activists like Ella Baker, the first executive coordinator of the Student Completely peaceful Consultative Committee, and Dorothy Height, the head of the National Council of Black Women (Bloom, pg. 257). They battled to eliminate prejudice against women from all backgrounds and ensure they had access to opportunities and services. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited prejudice because of sexuality and race, became one of the most important pieces of legislation to come out of the Civil Rights Movement. With the aid of this law, women were given more protection from institutional racism and many more chances in both fields of study and employment (Bloom, pg. 257). The current women’s rights movement also started due to the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, women started to unite and fight for more freedoms and possibilities, which resulted in the Women’s Equality Amendment’s ratification in 1972.

The third movement was the feminist movement which began in the late 1960s; as women fought for more advantages and rights, the contemporary feminist movement started in the late 1960s. Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Bella Abzug were among the leading activists who pushed for equal wages, gynecological freedoms, and an end to legal discrimination (Mohajan pg 11). To promote their cause, they established groups like the National Association for Women and the National Women’s Legislative Caucus. The collective fight of feminists to have female social, financial, and individual liberties recognized is known as the Feminist Movement. A worldwide campaign is underway to remove gender inequality and ensure the sexes’ governmental, cultural, and socioeconomic equality. The rights to vote, access to education, employment, safety from assault, and bodily autonomy are all part of the feminist movement’s objectives (Mohajan pg 15). There are often three “waves” that make up the feminist movement. Getting women the right to vote and fundamental civic rights was a major goal of the first wave of feminism. The social justice problems, including the right to employment, the opportunity to learn, and the right to be free from violence, were a major emphasis of the second feminist generation. Identities, including gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, are often the focus of the third generation of feminists.

The feminist movement has had a significant impact on culture and society. It has altered legislation, given women new possibilities, and questioned conventional gender norms. Moreover, it has played a significant role in larger social movements like the civil rights and anti-war movements. In addition, the feminist movement had a significant role in creating contemporary literature, music, and art. The feminist movement significantly influenced the laws and regulations regulating women’s rights in the United States. The Fair Pay Act, which made it unlawful for businesses to pay women less than men for the identical job, and the Maternity Benefits Act, which forbade companies from discriminating against pregnant women, were two of the significant pieces of legislation that were passed in the 1970s (Mohajan pg 21). With the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994 and the Family and Medical Leaving Act in 1993, the 1980s and 1990s witnessed more advancement.

The fourth women’s movement in the U.S. is The #MeToo Movement which began in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano used it to draw attention to inappropriate conduct and assault (Hillstrom pg.53) . The movement quickly gained traction as women from all around the world approached with their stories of harassment and abuse. This sparked a crucial conversation about the prevalence of sexual violence in the media and the need for more visible protections for victims (Hillstrom pg.53). The #MeToo movement has had a significant impact on women’s rights in the U.S., leading to the demise of several laws and strategies designed to protect women from harassment and abuse. The Survivors’ Bill of Privileges Act, which grants rape survivors the right to legal counsel, access to their medical records, and information on their attacker, was passed in 2018 as a direct result of the #MeToo movement.

In conclusion, the rights and possibilities accessible to women in the U.S. have changed dramatically since the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1877. From the beginning of the women’s suffrage campaign to the #MeToo movement, activists from all walks of life have worked relentlessly to advance the cause of women’s rights. Women have advanced significantly in several areas, including education, financial stability, and health care. In addition to receiving more than half of all bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, women currently make up more than half of college and university graduates. More than half of managerial and professional positions are now held by women, and the number of women-run firms is skyrocketing. Also, the Affordable Care Act has improved women’s access to healthcare and included additional safeguards for mothers and expectant moms. In the struggle for gender equality, there has been progressing, but there is still more work to be done. Women are nevertheless subjected to employment discrimination, earn less than males for the same occupations, and endure greater rates of violence and poverty. To make sure that all women have the chance to realize their full potential, activists, advocates, and politicians must keep collaborating.

Work Cited

Foner, Eric, ed. The new American history. Vol. 79. Temple University Press, 1997.

Hirschman, Daniel. “Controlling for what?” Folk economics, legal consciousness and the gender wage gap in the United States.” (2021).

Brake, Deborah L., and Joanna L. Grossman. “Unprotected Sex: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act at 35.” Duke J. Gender L. & Pol’y 21 (2013): 67.

Crawford, Elizabeth. The women’s suffrage movement: A reference guide 1866-1928. Routledge, 2003.

Bloom, Jack M. Class, race, and the civil rights movement. Indiana University Press, 2019.

Mohajan, Haradhan. “An Overview on the Feminism and Its Categories.” (2022): 11-26.

Hillstrom, Laurie Collier. The# metoo movement. ABC-CLIO, 2018.


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