A Brief History of Women’s Suffrage
Credit: morgueFile As early as 1792 the movement for women’s rights began to take shape with Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ("Women's Suffrage"). The motion slowly but surely rolled forward picking up momentum and in 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott hosted more than 300 people at the Seneca Falls Convention. The convention resulted in the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions which not only listed several grievances of women but a demand for equal rights (Ford 37-39).
Out of the suffrage movement came two organizations; the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Though the goals of the two were similar if not the same the techniques used to achieve them differed. The NWSA employed the more drastic methods of rejecting the Bible, excluding men, and attacking the institution of marriage, they also sent members to attempt to vote and supported female candidates for office. The AWSA paved a quieter path through including men, remaining in favor of family, church and marriage and maintaining a mostly conservative membership (Ford 42-43).
Credit: morgueFileAlthough drastic movements such as rejecting the Bible and attempting to vote (illegally at the time) would certainly draw attention to the cause the repercussions of such actions were most likely unfavorable during such a conservative time in history. The more reserved tactics of the AWSA were more than likely the ‘politically’ favored approach. Though the second wave of feminism did gain ground for women through more radical action the country was more apt to receive it in the 1960’s than during the mid-19th century.
Gender Inequality Continued
Gender inequality is a problem not only in America but all over the world. Women usually have less access to congress or parliament and executive power because gender inequality can be found in the patriarchal structure of the cultural background of a nation or people. Although gender inequality in politics is not as serious as in previous generations, men still enjoy heightened statuses in politics. Data compiled by the Inter-Parlaimentary Union shows that a mere 21.3% of the worlds seats are held by women as of November 2013. In addition, the data also shows that of 150 countries documented 18 have less than 10 women representatives and five have none at all. These statistics about gender inequality in politics highlight the limitation of women’s participation in politics.
Credit: MorgueFile Undeniably, our gender identities are shaped by our cultures. It is also obvious that there is a great diversity of cultures. Among different cultures, some traditions hold perceptions that promote the degredation of women. One of the great examples of gender inequality is Iran. With regard to family matters, in many occasions, the law would treat women as a legal minor under the guardianship of their male family members. Family management is by men, who hold absolute legal status as the head of household. These customs are supported by family courts in the region that often promote male dominance in decision-making power. The governing body in Iran imposes different laws to supress the rights of women. In civil claims the cash compensation of the female is half of that of men’s. Also, if a woman wants to obain employment or to leave the country on her own, she will have to gain permission from a male family member
Credit: morguefile We must not deny that both biological and sociological factors cause gender inequalities. Women are physiologically weaker than men, which then leaves them vulnerable to men in certain aspects. In addition, different cultural values have also deep rooted beliefs on gender inequality. Therefore, women encounter inequality in terms of wages, social status, and economic status, which impact the lives of women in a negative way. Yet there is no reason why discrimination against women should continue uninhibited. For example, women have narrowed their gaps with men in terms of political and work participation. Moreover, women also have increased their participation in “male’s jobs”, such as doctors and engineers. Women are not as weak as they look physically. Gender equality is a human right. Empowering women is also a necessary means for moving forward with the development of freedom and reducing poverty. Therefore, we must lessen gender inequalities throughout the world and establish gender equalities, which can result in multiple benefits.