The Womens Civil Rights Movement
Womens struggle for equal right has not been an easy or short road. All throughout U.S. history women have been fighting for their rights and for the rights of others. Women have organized and fought their way through legislatures, congressional obstacles and have faced ridicule and indifference.
It was a long and uphill battle. It meant defiance of laws and customs that had been accepted from the time of the first settlements, some of the discriminations women were fighting against were women were not permitted to speak at public meeting, women were denied the right to vote. Women did not have a free choice of courses or education. Women could not keep ownership of property when they married. Women could be beaten legally by their “overlords”- their husbands.
Women joined and fought by picketing, protesting, parading, campaigning – demanding that women be given the same rights as men.
Some of the women involved in this movement were Elizabeth Cady St5anton, who was called the “Mother of the Womens Suffrage Movement”. She organized the Womans Rights Covention of 1747. She was a leader in the fight for womens rights to own property and for divorce laws more favorable to women.
Lucy Sten, who was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree.
Susan B. Anthony. She devoted her life to the temperance movement, (against alcohol) and the abolition cause (against slavery). She fought for women and black males to have the right to vote. She was arrested when she attempted to vote in Rochester, New York local elections.We built the Womens rights movement into a national organization.
Carrie Chapman Latt, was the president of the National American Womans Suffrage (NAWSA)
Victoria Woodhill fought for Womens freedom in economy on Wall Street, in Congress and in the Whitehouse. She was the first of many to appear before Congress to plead for and demand the rights of American Women.
In 1920 Women earned the right to vote, many of these women did not survive to see it. It took 70 years to get the vote.
In the “roaring twenties” women emerged flamboyant, defiant, and independent. Such a young “liberated woman” was known as a “flapper”.
Women have fought hard in their battle for equality with men. The strong push for equal opportunity for women took place on local, state, and national levels. Women used the following procedures in their quest;
they used the courts for litigation.
they set up public meetings to educate the public, they lobbied legislators and candidates.
they secured editorial and civic leader support, they organized at the national, state, and local levels.
The following federal laws that protect women were the result:
Social Security Act (1935) and amendments provide for monthly retirement and disability to male and female workers and for survivors benefits to dependents of workers – male and female – covered by the system.
Unemployment insurance is managed jointly by the federal and state governments. Benefits are paid for loss of job through no fault of either male or female employees. Benefits vary from state to state. This is part of the Social Security System that began making payments in 1937.
Fair Labor Standard Act (1938) guarantees minimum wage and overtime pay for men – women employed in businesses that fall under federal regulation.
Equal Pay Act of 1963 was the first federal law against sex discrimination in employment. It prohibits employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying different wages for equal work requiring equal skills, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for any employer to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms or conditions or privileges of employment because of such individuals race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” An amendment in 1978 prohibited discrimination in employment because of pregnancy._ Title VIIs administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which prohibited help wanted – male and help wanted – female” advertisements.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 strengthened the powers of the EEOC t bring suits in court after and investigation. It includes widened coverage of the Civil Rights Act to embrace employees and unions of eight or more workers, employees of state and federal government, and employees of educational institutions. It protects employees against sexual harassment, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Title IX Educational Act (Amendments) of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in any elementary, secondary, or post-secondary school if the institution receives any federal moneys, the implementation of this law has become a battle ground between liberals and conservatives.
Retirement Equity Act (1974) known as the “Womens bill” provides a wife with retirement benefits after her husbands death. It also gives a wife limited pension benefits should the husband die before reaching retirement age.
The government has identified several groups as being in need of special attention. These groups are women, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Eskimos. Why women? As a minority of the population in the United States , women face many of the same obstacles as do minority group males.
Legislation has created “Affirmative Action”. Affirmative action seeks to over come discrimination and the exclusion of women and minorities from hiring and promotion in public an private employment and from enrollment in colleges and professional schools. In some cases, quotas and preferential treatment were given to women, blacks and Hispanics. Federal laws and policies encourage the use of sex and race quotas as remedial devices in allocating jobs and educational opportunities. Many court cases have followed, dealing with hiring, promotion, wage policies , and seniority rights. Affirmative action is looked upon as a temporary policy until women and minorities gain foothold in the economy.
Other forms of discrimination reduced are: Membership in all-male clubs significantly reduced by the supreme court decision that forbade the exclusion of women from such organizations as Rotary and the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
In the 1970s and 1980s many form of pregnancy discrimination- including denial of leave, loss of seniority, lack of medical coverage, and out right dismissal- were challenged, primarily in the courts, Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, women who decide to leave their jobs because of pregnancy lose nothing and may get payment for medical and hospital expenses. The law does not require women to remain on the job. Employers may not penalize women who become pregnant or who have a child. It also out laws the loss of seniority by women when they return to work after childbirth.
Women have made enormous progress since the beginning of their battle. They have fought, earned and worked for every right that they have gained. Today women have equality when it come to dealing with the laws and public discrimination, the only boundaries left to be broken are peoples opinions and their narrow minds. Some day maybe there will be equality for all and descrimination will be a word and concept of the past.