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Women’s Rights

Womens Rights, rights that establish the same social, economic, and political status for women as for men. Womens rights guarantee that women will not face discrimination on the basis of their sex. Until the second half of the 20th century, women in most societies were denied some of the legal and political rights accorded to men. Although women in much of the world have gained significant legal rights, many people believe that women still do not have complete political, economic, and social equality with men. Throughout much of the history of Western civilization, deep-seated cultural beliefs allowed women only limited roles in society.

Many people believed that womens natural roles were as mothers and wives. These people considered women to be better suited for childbearing and homemaking rather than for involvement in the public life of business or politics. Widespread belief that women were intellectually inferior to men led most societies to limit womens education to learning domestic skills. Well-educated, upper-class men controlled most positions of employment and power in society. U. S. Legislation for Womens Rights In the 19th century, state and federal laws that discriminated against women posed some of the most significant obstacles to securing womens rights.

The earliest campaigns to improve womens legal status in the United States centered on gaining property rights for women. Women also led legislative efforts in the 19th and 20th centuries to ensure their voting, employment, and reproductive rights. Property Rights Beginning in the 1830s, states passed laws and statutes that gradually gave married women greater control over property. New York state passed the Married Womens Property Act in 1848, allowing women to acquire and retain assets independently of their husbands.

This was the first law that clearly established the idea that a married woman had an independent legal identity. The New York law inspired nearly all other states to eventually pass similar legislation. he Right to Vote American women did not gain the right to vote until 1920, after amendments were made to the Constitution of the United States. The passage of the 14th Amendment in 1866 and the 15th Amendment in 1870 helped to focus the womens rights movement on suffrage. The 14th Amendment provided that all citizens were guaranteed equal protection under the law and that no citizen could be denied due process of law.

The 15th Amendment stated that citizens could not be denied the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous status as a slave. Activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony argued that the 14th Amendment conferred on women constitutional equality and the rights of full citizenship. They also insisted that the 15th Amendment be expanded to guarantee suffrage to women. In 1920 the 19th Amendment granted women this right Equal Pay Act The 1963 report by the Commission on the Status of Women led directly to the passage of the Equal Pay Act that same year.

The Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay different wages to men and women who performed the same work. However, the new law had little effect on narrowing the wage gap between the sexes. Most female workers remained in jobs traditionally held by women, offering low wages and little prospect for advancement. In 1963 the average female workers wages in the United States were equivalent to 58. 9 percent of the average male workers earnings. By 1995 womens earnings had increased significantly, but they were still only 71. 4 percent of the amount that men earned.

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