Origins of ordinary things: Women’s rights movement

On March 8 every year, countries around the world observe International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of women in all spheres and to continue the call for gender equality.

Women’s rights movements predominantly began in the United States. According to Info Please, an online knowledge resource, in 1848, a group of women and a few men under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, met for the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, to demand for the women’s right to exist as autonomous individuals. Until then, women could not act independently.

However, before women banded together to demand for their rights, individual women in different parts of the world were already using various avenues to speak against gender injustice. For instance in 1792, British writer Mary Wollstonecraft published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” This is according to Scholastic, the online resource for scholastic books and educational materials.

Women’s right to vote was granted in Britain in 1918 but the minimum age for voting was set at 30. Ten years later, the age was lowered to 21. According to History, a web-based knowledge, it took over a century for women of the United States to win the right to vote. It was on August 26, 1920, that the United States finally ratified the Constitution declaring that women had the same civil rights and responsibilities as men.

In 1945, the introduction to the United Nations Charter indicated that women have equal rights. From then on, according to History Net, an information dissemination platform, several conventions on women’s rights were adopted, such as the 1979 Convention on the Eliminations of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. By then, feminist movements were in full force, challenging discriminatory attitudes that placed men at an unfair advantage over women.

Since its inception, the women’s rights movement has taken on a diverse number of issues such as access to reproductive health services, equal pay for equal work, participation in the political sphere, the right to own and inherit property, and access to education. The pioneers of such struggles faced many challenges from being arrested, being ridiculed and being thrown on the streets of parliament during protests. This is according to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia.

The women’s rights movement is now almost 200 years old and there is a lot to show for its existence. In many countries around the world, women over the age of 18 can vote. They can hold public office. They have the right choose a marriage partner. They can exist and work in public spaces.

However, there is still more work to be done because a large majority of women around the world still suffer gender-based discrimination, whereby they get paid less compared to their male counterparts, there is a handful of women in top leadership positions and inaccessibility to social services is still disproportionately high. For instance, according to United Nations Women statistics, women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people.