Women's suffrage in the United States - Wikipedia
Then, in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment, which had languished in Congress for almost fifty years, was finally passed and sent to the states for ratification. The wording of the ERA was simple: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” To many women’s rights activists, its ratification by the required thirty-eight states seemed almost a shoo-in.
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But Elizabeth Cady Stanton proved prophetic once again. Remember her prediction that the movement should “anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule”? Opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment, organized by Phyllis Schlafly, feared that a statement like the ERA in the Constitution would give the government too much control over our personal lives. They charged that passage of the ERA would lead to men abandoning their families, unisex toilets, gay marriages, and women being drafted. And the media, purportedly in the interest of balanced reporting, gave equal weight to these deceptive arguments just as they had when the possibility of women winning voting rights was being debated. And, just like had happened with woman suffrage, there were still very few women in state legislatures to vote their support, so male legislators once again had it in their power to decide if women should have equal rights. When the deadline for ratification came in 1982, the ERA was just three states short of the 38 needed to write it into the U.S. constitution. Seventy-five percent of the women legislators in those three pivotal states supported the ERA, but only 46% of the men voted to ratify.
We’ve accomplished so much, yet a lot still remains to be done. Substantial barriers to the full equality of America’s women still remain before our freedom as a Nation can be called complete. But the Women’s Rights Movement has clearly been successful in irrevocably changing the circumstances and hopes of women. The remaining injustices are being tackled daily in the courts and conference rooms, the homes and organizations, workplaces and playing fields of America.
She was arrested for the crime and fined $100, which she never paid
The next year, Iceland’s parliament passed a law guaranteeing equal rights to women and men. Although this 1976 law did little to change the disparity in wages and employment for women, it was a large political step towards true equality. The strikers had clearly achieved their goal and demonstrated the undeniable importance of women and their work in Iceland. The strike also paved the way for the election of Iceland’s, and the world’s, first democratically elected female president five years later.
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For the next two decades the NAWSA worked as a nonpartisan organization focused on gaining the vote in states, although managerial problems and a lack of coordination initially limited its success. The first state to grant women complete voting rights was Wyoming in 1869. Three other western states—Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), and Idaho (1896)—followed shortly after NAWSA was founded. But before 1910 only these four states allowed women to vote. “Why the West first?” remains a contested question. Some scholars suggest that the West proved to be more progressive in extending the vote to women, in part, because there were so few of them on the frontier. Granting women political rights was intended to bring more women westward and to boost the population. Others suggest that women had long played nontraditional roles on the hardscrabble frontier and were accorded a more equal status by men. Still others find that political expediency by territorial officials played a role. They do, however, agree that western women also organized themselves effectively to win the right.7
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Despite the new momentum, however, some reformers were impatient with the pace of change. In 1913 Alice Paul, a young Quaker activist who had experience in the English suffrage movement, formed the rival Congressional Union, later named the National Woman’s Party.8 Paul’s group freely adopted the more militant tactics of its English counterparts, picketing and conducting mass rallies and marches to raise public awareness and support. Embracing a more confrontational style, Paul drew a younger generation of women to her movement, helped resuscitate the push for a federal equal rights amendment, and relentlessly attacked the Democratic administration of President Woodrow Wilson for obstructing the extension of the vote to women.
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As with the Civil War, the seeds of the quest for women's rights were sown in the Declaration of Independence, claiming that "all men are created equal." Sarah Grimke wrote in 1837 that "men were created equal ... whatever is right for men to do is right for women." That language was mirrored in the . Thus, in this era of reform and renewal women realized that if they were going to push for equality, they needed to ignore criticism and what was then considered acceptable social behavior. The new republic's experiment in government was going to need all of its citizens to have "every path laid open" to them. However, the ardent feminists discovered that many people felt women neither should nor could be equal to men. The nation soon became distracted by sectional tension and the climate for reform evaporated. This important struggle would continue for many generations to come.