A historical struggle for gender equality

March 26, 2021

Women have faced numerous obstacles and gender barriers throughout history, and there is still an ongoing struggle for gender equality today. There are numerous significant historical events where communities have come together to advocate for equal opportunity in the workplace, the political and business arena, the arts industry, the sports world, and even in the traditional household.

On July 19-20, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s right convention, took place in New York with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as one of the organizers. The attendants signed the Declaration of Sentiments, which outlined rights that women must be entitled to as American citizens and spoke out against the oppression that women face. This notable convention aided in propelling the women’s rights movement in the United States.

In 1869, prominent figures in the wake of the women’s rights movement, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association to fight for the women’s rights to vote. Even though Anthony and Stanton initiated this association in 1869, it took until August 18, 1920, for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be ratified. In honor of Susan B. Anthony’s contribution to the movement, including her persistent activism, it is also called the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment.”

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks participated in civil disobedience when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, playing a vital role in launching the civil rights movement. Parks was a freedom fighter, a courageous woman of who inspire others to resist oppression and discrimination

In the 1960s and ‘70s, there was significant legislation passed in order to prevent gender-based discrimination. For example, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, prohibiting wage discrimination between men and women who work at the same job and workplace and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned the employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex. Even though these were landmark legislations, wage discrimination for women as well as microaggressions in the workplace continue to this day. Also, President Richard Nixon signs the Title IX Education Amendments into law on June 23, 1972, prohibiting the gender discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Women in the House of Representatives who have served the longest (Courtesy of Statista.com).

On July 7, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the U.S Supreme Court. She then went on to serve for 24 years and retire in 2006. Also, President Bill Clinton notably signs the Violence Against Women Act 13 years later in 1994. This provided funds for programs that aid in sexual assault, domestic violence, and other gender-related violence.

In the 21st century, women made even more progress for equal rights, breaking barriers by acquiring leadership in male-dominated fields. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker of the U.S. House and she then reclaimed the title again in 2019. Also, as of March 18, 2018, Marcy Kaptur, Congresswoman serving the 9th district of Ohio, became the longest-serving women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then, on July 26, 2019, Hilary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States. Also, on January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman and woman of color to be the vice president of the United States.

Women have significant contributions throughout history in the battle against gender-based discrimination, but this struggle is not over as this sexism continues until today. As we honor and celebrate these courageous women throughout history, we must take their stories and allow it to inspire us to continue fighting for equal pay, equal treatment, and equal rights overall.

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