Women Empowerment Throughout History

By: Ava Breemes

We all have influential, powerful, wonderful women in our lives. Whether it’s your mom, sister, cousin, aunt, grandmother, friend, girlfriend, or wife, women surround us and make a large impact on our lives. You wouldn’t be here without a woman! Unfortunately, modern-day society struggles with women’s rights and this problem dates all the way back through history. It is important for everyone to come together to break the cycle of oppression towards women and treat them as the strong, smart, independent individuals that they are. 

The root of the fight for women’s rights dates back to 1857, as women protested low wages and poor working conditions in New York City factories. Police dispersed the protestors and ended the rally, but it led to the formation of the first women’s labor union. Moving forward to March 8th, 1908, 15,000 women marched in New York City protesting better pay, shorter working hours, an end to child labor, and voting rights. Women from all different backgrounds came together to stand up for their rights and demand the equality they deserved. “Bread and Roses” became a well-known slogan, with bread symbolizing economic security and roses symbolizing better living standards.

Equal pay and safe working conditions aren’t the only problems women had to face. The Progressive Era began in 1890 in response to women not having the right to vote.  The National Woman Suffrage Association was formed, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Instead of focusing on equality, their main focus was how women are different from men. Women bring new ideas to the table and deserve to voice their opinions that are unique to their lives. On August 18th, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and women had officially gained the right to vote. On November 2nd of the same year, 8 million women across the country exercised their new right and voted in the election.

Fast forward to 2022, where COVID-19 has been around for two years, a war between Ukraine and Russia is brewing, and over 2.4 billion women globally don’t have the same economic rights as men. In recent years, it seems as if society has moved backwards in terms of women’s rights. In Afghanistan, women are not allowed to work and cannot walk around unless escorted by a man. Current peaceful protests have been taking place to fight for equal rights and protect women who are victims of sexual assualt, domestic violence, and war victims. 

It is important for us to recognize the progress we have made with women’s rights, but we also need to think about the steps we can take in the future towards equality. Women have come a long way, but there is still more we can do to ensure women are appreciated and treated the way they deserve to be. Women’s History Month is the perfect time to educate ourselves about past and current issues, but we should recognize and fight for women everyday of the year.

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