Women freedom in American History
History shows that women have made a lot of effort and struggle in fighting for equality and the right to exercise voting (women’s suffrage) and equality in the work place and in acquiring education. Still today gender biasness continues to form large barriers for many women around the globe especially the poor, the black women and the immigrant women. The ongoing battles are struggles that are meant to bring equal economic and education opportunities, bringing into an end of gender based violence and bringing into the awareness of the harm and the injustices that women and girls face to the criminal justice system. Since the early times of the 1800’s American women have faced many challenges and straggles in their way to gain their freedom and their rights (GML 246)
Since the early times, women were viewed as sources of human life. Historically women have been looked upon as not only intellectually incapable as compared to men but also as a source of evil and temptation. For example, in Greek mythology there was a woman by the name Pandora opened a forbidden box and as a result she brought in plagues and bad luck to mankind. Women for a long period were considered naturally weaker as compared to men. It was assumed that women could not perform work which required muscular and intellectual capacity. A middle class girl in western culture was intended to learn how to cook, caring for the children and cleaning from her mother. Tests made in 1960’s showed that academic achievement of girls was higher in junior grades as compared to the high schools scores which were rather poor. The main reason being the girls own expectations had declined because their teachers and families expected them to start getting ready for marriage and of motherhood. This tread has changed in the recent years. More to that, most black women worked as slaves in farms owned by whites (VF 68).
In 1800 and some part of 1900 women were considered as the weaker sex. Formal education for young girls historically always came second as compared to that of boys. During the colonial era girls attended schools to learn how to read and write at very dame schools. They only could attend the boy’s master’s schools during summer times when most of the male students were working. Fortunately by 19th century the girl’s population had greatly increased. The number of colleges for girls broadened and more women were admitted in colleges and universties. Particularly in 1870 one fifth of students in the resident colleges were women. In the 1900 the number had increased to a proportion of more than one third. In the beginning of the 20th century, the percentage of women pursuing the undergraduate degree in colleges and universities was nineteen. By 1984 the number had high to 49 percent.
The myth of women being naturally inferior greatly influenced the legal status of women. In England, the common law allowed an unmarried woman to own property and to be in a capacity to sue and to be sued and could enter into a contract agreement. A married woman was defined by the husband and everything that she owned was given to the control of the husband. In early 1800 of the United States history, a husband virtually owned the wife and his children as a possession. If a poor man decided to send the children to a poorhouse, their mother was legally in no position to defend them. Equity law in America brought in liberation effect to the legal rights of women. An example of the case in Mississippi in 1839, a woman sue her husband, later on a similar issue happened in New York in 1848 and in 1854 in Massachusetts; the law that was passed allowed women to own property separate from the husband. It was not until 1910 that the United States passed a legislation improving the working conditions and limiting the working hours for women. However the set laws were considered to restrict women in many areas, especially when the laws prohibited women from working for more than eight hours per day and working at night, this prevented women from getting some jobs such as supervisory jobs which at most times call for overtime work (GML 232).
In the 17th century, men out-numbered women in Chesapeake. During that period many people died as a result of servitude and high death rate. Many women became indentured servants and faced harsh work and sexual abuse. The American women were subjected to harsh male authority in households along with very severe limitations to women legal rights. Women were considered to be spiritually unequal with men and could not play any part in the clergies’ in the church. The unmarried adults especially the women were viewed as danger to the society. Single and divorced women found it difficult to get a loan to buy a car or a house. The laws that were concerned with social welfare such as prostitution, crime and abortion were biased against women. A woman right to privacy was violated, ffor example in order for a woman to receive government welfare payments; she faced very frequent investigation in order to prove her claim. Little has changed since then because the same hardships are experienced by women today. In case a woman shot her husband the woman faced a crime of homicide but when the husband shot the wife it was called a “passion shooting” and he escaped the rule of law. In addition, it was only the women prostitutes who were prosecuted and the male counter parts went free without any charges (GML 167).
Women in America got a right to vote in 1920 and still their political roles in the government have been minimal. The convention against the discrimination of women for the first time it took place in Seneca Falls in New York in 1848. Following many grievances the convention looked for solutions for equal education, equitable laws, and equal job opportunities together with a right to vote. When many unions were fighting for civil rights in America, the victory of the unions resulted to the amendment of the 14th and 15th laws of the constitutions only granted the suffrage to the African American and not to women. The struggle for women to abolish the discrimination was slow and frustration but eventually women gained access to vote in 1869 in Wyoming territory, Utah territory in 1870 and many other states followed. A woman amendment on suffrage to the constitution of the federal state was availed to the congress in 1978, and failed to pass for many times (VF 46).
In conclusion, equality for all gender is important for attainment of human rights. In legal customs many laws persist to institutionalize a rather lower status for girls and women in regard to citizenship and nationality, education, health, employment rights, marital and property rights as well as inheritance. The various forms of discrimination against women are not compatible with the little empowerment women have. There is great number of women living under poverty level around the world and the number keep on increasing from 50 percent in 1975. It is observed that women work relatively a greater number of hours of two-thirds of the global working hours as compared to men. Women food production output is almost half of world food output and yet they earn only a 10 percent of the world income and own less than one percent of the world’s poverty. Discrimination against women has been present around the globe and in different cultures (VF 134).
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