Topic 4: Peace and cooperation

18. Evaluate the success of one multiparty state in improving the status of women

Emily Johnson
I. Introduction
Over the course of the 20th century, women in the United States saw a massive shift in how they were perceived and treated. As the nation approached a new era, women steadily gained in rights and standings. Gains such as the right to vote, access to jobs and education, and various laws designed to guard against discrimination were all achieved as the century progressed. Though the government did pass several important laws that helped advance women’s status, the main impetus behind the advancement of women did not come from the state but rather from the feminist movement which forced such laws to be passed.
II. Suffragette Movement

  • Began during 2nd half of 19th century with the Seneca Falls Convention (1848) – continued into the 20th century
  • Notable suffragettes: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Demanded the right to vote
    • Pointed out that blacks now had the right to vote – this was unjust (“if blacks can vote, then why can’t we?”)
  • National suffrage began only in 1920’s
    • Mass protests, arrests, marches, etc.
  • Finally amendment (19th) passed in 1920
    • WAYYY after other minorities had been granted the right to vote
    • Clear that women’s suffrage was not a top priority – if it hadn’t been for the activism, they may not have been granted this right

III. Integration into Workplace

  • During Industrial Revolution, women began working in manufacturing jobs and other heavy industrial work due to the plentiful job openings
  • Horrible working conditions and little benefits led to many strikes and protesting  working women beginning to band together
  • During WWI, while many men away at war, women took over their jobs and performed comparably
    • Whetted their appetites  when men returned, women did not want to just return to household
    • After the war, more women worked outside the home than before
    • Faced widespread discrimination, however: lower pay, 1920’s began the practice of associating some jobs as “women’s work”
  • 1920’s – “flappers” = women asserting their independence  however, still discriminated against, considered subordinate to men, expected to run the home
  • 1930’s – Great Depression forced women into the workplace when possible to help their families, but they were still paid less than men (men seen as primary supporters of the family, did not want to hire women and take jobs away from men same as immigrants would)
    • The New Deal under Roosevelt helped improve women’s standing because new agencies did not discriminate by gender, but as it was not specifically designed to help women, their standings in the larger society did not really change (not hired in equal proportions to men, still not paid equally)
  • WWII again saw a migration of women into the workforce to replace men
    • Rosie the Riveter
    • Some women even served in the army (though still not paid equally)
    • After the war ended and men came home, women’s role as a homemaker glorified, but many were dissatisfied and remained in the workplace
  • Civil Rights Movement and the gains won by African-Americans in the 60’s and on gave women’s movements hope that their grievances would also be addressed and changes made
    • Revival of the Feminist Movement – urged full equality in all areas of life (renewed protests, rallies, etc)
    • 1964 Civil Rights Act passed – banned discrimination based on gender
    • However this was not good enough, people still did it – so NOW was formed (National Organization for Women) to actively seek civil rights (Betty Friedan)
  • 80’s and 90’s saw even more women entering the workforce, becoming educated, urging each other to run for office, etc.
    • Still discriminated, though women were getting elected
    • The state did not help them, other women and feminist men did
  • Though women finally gained passage of a law that banned discrimination after years of protest, the law was not always followed, and women still not paid equally – still face discrimination today

IV. Pro-Feminist Legislation

  • 1920 – Nineteenth Amendment (suffrage for women)
  • 1964 Civil Rights Act (discrimination based on gender in the workplace illegal)
  • 1973 – Roe v. Wade (legalized abortion)
  • Equal Rights Amendment attempt (amendment to Constitution declaring complete equality for all people and minority groups) – failed in 1982
    • Government still did not want complete equality for women, not a priority for them
  • Late 80s and early 90s – new divorce laws enhanced status of women

V. Conclusion

  • Some good laws were passed that helped enhance women’s status
  • However, the main impetus of social change was spurred by the feminist movement, not the government – the movement forced the government to take notice and do something about the inequality present
  • Women still have work to do in achieving complete equality
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