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The women’s movement has a long history, and its significance is still relevant and evident in the contemporary world. The campaign aimed at changing the position of women in society by eliminating some cultural practices that were viewed as oppressive to them. The significance of the movement was more evident in the US. The American society was characterized by segregation of women and was treated as unequal to men in every aspect. The social settings dictated the role of women in the community, and they were mostly confined to playing domestic functions such as attending to their husbands and taking care of their children (Gamber 6). The pioneers of the women’s movement were inspired by the need to change women’s situation in society. The movement of women has happened through different waves at different times, and it is still advocating for women’s liberties in contemporary society. The efforts made by the movement of women from the 1950s to the current time have led to the achievement of significant changes regarding the position of women and how they are treated in society.
The main factor that inspired the formation of the women’s movement was to improve their status in the community. For instance, in a society like the US, women were treated differently from men and were not permitted to do certain things that were perceived as purely men’s activities. One such activity was voting, and women were not allowed to vote or participate in any activity related to the election of members (Dzuback 425). The first wave of the feminist movement laid the foundation of the 1950s movement of women. The first wave happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, and its main focus was to advocate for women’s legal rights, majorly the right to vote. The success of the first wave by successfully fighting for women’s rights to vote inspired the next wave of feminism movements. The crusade that started in the 1950s through the ‘60s and ‘70s or the second wave mainly sought equality for women in the community. The actions that were primarily based in the US advocated for equal opportunities and rights for women. Besides, the movement also fought for greater personal freedom for women.
The women’s movement had a broad scope since it focused on improving every aspect that affected women’s lives, particularly in the US. Some of the issues on the list included work, politics, sexuality, and family. The movement achieved a lot, and it is still advocating for women’s rights in contemporary society. Women’s rights were violated, and the movement provided opportunities for women from different backgrounds to fight for their rights. Segregation in employment opportunities was a major concern for women in the US (Tobias 67). Most employers did not give employment opportunities because of the cultural perceptions that undermined women’s role in society. In places where women were employed, they received fewer wages compared to their male counterparts doing the same jobs. A key factor that also inspired the women’s movement in the 1960s was the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (Tobias 63). The book discussed widely the challenges women in American society go through, ranging from the confinement to their homes, unfavorable legal precedents, and gendered discrimination in the distribution of job opportunities and wages. The publication inspired women to fight for their rights and improve their status in society. Women were encouraged to use different approaches to popularize the need to campaign for their liberties on crucial issues that affected them (Gamber 11). One of the commonly used methods was striking and marching in the streets of major towns to catch the government’s attention. One such activity was held on the Women’s Strike Day in 1970, where women marched in Washington DC to advocate for educational opportunities, equal employment, and accessible child care.
The women’s movement recorded immense success that is still enjoyed in the present days. The movement recorded multiple legal victories that transformed the status of women in American society. Some of the legal amendments attributed to women’s movement include the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Levy 22). The act for equal pay demanded that employers should pay their employees equally regardless of their gender. The civil rights act defended women against various actions that amounted to sexual harassment at workplaces. The movement also managed to get the legalization of birth control for married couples. More victories were recorded in the 1970s by compelling the government to formulate laws that safeguarded women’s rights.
The movement was inspired by various factors that necessitated them and others and made it possible to have the movement. Trade union movements that existed in the 1950s onwards played a vital role in the emergence of the second wave of women movement. Trade unions were instrumental in fighting for all workers’ rights to get better pays and other improved employment terms (Munro 14). Women capitalized on their unions’ membership to push for key transformations on issues that affected them directly. Even though trade unions focused on general issues that affected workers, women utilized the opportunity to fight for their rights (Munro 18). Also, the existence of trade union movements at that time had created a friendly environment for activism. Women took advantage of the labor union movements to push for women’s agendas.
The positions of the major political parties in the US played a fundamental role in the formation and operations of the women’s movement. the Republican and Democratic parties were instrumental in pushing for major reforms to improve women’s rights on different aspects. Considering the effects of public debates on American politics, the political parties were compelled to take clear stances about the issues women had raised concerning their liberties. In the 1950s and ’60s, the most dominant public debates were about policies on women’s rights. In the 1950s and 1960s, when the women’s movement had gained momentum, the Democrats and Republicans had conflicting positions about the issues raised by the movement. The Republican party helped advocate for women’s rights in the ’50s and ’60s, while Democrats were mostly against them. The Republicans helped to push the movements’ agenda and helped to pass major precedents in the Congress. In the later years, the parties switched positions, and the Democrats also supported the women’s movement. The Democrats supported policies such as the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights. The combination of such factors significantly impacted the activities and success of the women’s rights movement. A similar trend is still evident today as women continue to fight for increased representation in elective positions (Wiebe 221). The Democrats and Republicans continue to take divergent positions on such public debates towards multiculturalism and inclusion.
The movement of women in the 1950s encountered numerous obstacles that undermined the achievement of their objectives. The dominance of men in influential positions was a major challenge faced by the movement. Men dominated all elective positions, and it was not easy to pursue their agenda through the Congress or Senate. Men were opposed to policy propositions that would make them equal to women (Berrey 67). The public stereotypes about women were also a major obstacle to the movement of women. The public order was based on perceptions that women’s abilities are limited and should not be treated as equals to men in any aspect. Another critical obstacle encountered by the movement was the lack of cooperation from fellow women (Dzuback 426). Such oppositions date back to the first wave of the women’s movement when Josephine Jewell Dodge opposed women’s suffrage through anti-suffragist activism. A similar trend was experienced in the second wave when particularly those aligned to the Democratic political side failed to support certain amendments that aimed at improving the status of women in the community. Nevertheless, the movement managed to achieve multiculturalism and inclusion.
The women’s movement from the 1950s resulted in significant gains in improving women’s status in American society. The movement was created because of the segregation of women that was deeply embedded in the American culture. Some factors that facilitated the feminist crusade’s operations were the existence and participation of women in trade unions, support from political parties, and publications that made women understand their position. Some of the obstacles included dominance by men, opposition by fellow women, and stereotypes about women.
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