Women fought for more than 200 years to obtain the rights that were guaranteed to men in the U.S. Constitution. At the beginning of 19th century, a woman was not supposed to vote or hold office; she had few rights to her own property or earnings, she could not take custody of her children if she divorced and she didn’t have access to a higher education.
In the 1830s, thousands of women were involved in the movement to abolish slavery. Out of the abolitionist movement, feminism was born. Feminist movement, also called the women’s rights movement demanded equal political, economic and social rights for all women regardless of their ethnic background.
The first wave of feminism began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. The feminist movement was established to combat sexual discrimination and to gain opportunities for women equal to those of men. Elizabeth Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments, which called for complete political, economic and social equality with men, including educational opportunities, equal pay, and the right to vote. They deliberately quoted the Declaration of Independence that was written and approved by men.
After the civil war, some women had entered paid employment in government service, industry and public schools. Also, women’s suffrage began to gather momentum. Women wanted to be given the right to vote. Before 1848, women did not access higher education. While a few women might attend a female seminary, they were not allowed into colleges and universities. After the civil war, women began to go to college.
Source: Feminists and Activists for Women’s Equal Rights
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