March is National Women’s History Month and an ideal time to reflect on the accomplishments of the visionary women who began the Women’s Rights Movement, kept it rolling through the decades and continue the work today on behalf of women everywhere.
In 1848 in upstate New York, a gutsy discussion about the lack of women’s rights among friends over tea launched the beginning of the Women’s Rights Movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the conversation that afternoon and then went on to dedicate her life to championing women’s freedom and equality.
At that time in the mid-19th century, women had no vote, no representation in the formation of laws, no property rights, no access to higher education at colleges or universities and the list of inequalities goes on.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first meeting to be held for the sole purpose of discussing women’s rights. She inspired generations of women to work toward positive change through meetings, petition drives, lobbying, public speaking and non-violent resistance.
Votes for Women!
At long last women earned the right to vote in 1920. Ponder for a moment how different the most recent U.S. presidential election would’ve been if only men had casted the votes. To the brave suffragettes who fought for the women’s vote in the early 20th century, we say “Thank you very much!”
Also appreciated are the “Women’s Libbers,” who joined the second wave of the Women’s Rights Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Housewives, working women and college students from across the country demanded equal pay, equal access to training and education, access to family planning and contraception, maternity leave and affordable childcare.
Among their accomplishments, congress passed the Equal Employment Act of 1972, which offers protections against workplace discrimination based on gender, race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Women in Action Today
Today women of all ages here in the U.S. and across the world are raising their voices in unison. From global marches to social media campaigns such as #MeToo, women are calling out sexual harassment, organizing for equal pay and women’s political rights.
Many organizations support the Women’s Rights Movement and offer various ways to get involved in the cause. A few organizations are listed below. Visit their websites to learn more.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
NOW is a multi-issue, multi-strategy organization that takes a holistic approach to women’s rights. Our priorities are winning economic equality and securing it with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will guarantee equal rights for women; championing abortion rights, reproductive freedom and other women’s health issues; opposing racism; fighting bigotry against the LGBTQIA community; and ending violence against women.
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
Global Rights for Women
Global Rights for Women works with leaders around the world to advance women and girls’ human right to live free from violence.
Through research, advocacy and campaigning, Amnesty International pressures the people in power to respect women’s rights.