Feminism and Women's Rights in North America

Topics: Feminism, Third-wave feminism, Second-wave feminism Pages: 6 (2235 words) Published: November 14, 2012
Over the past century women have made huge accomplishments in the fight for equal rights. Over the past one hundred years woman have won the right to vote, the right to work and they have shattered the stereo-type that women must be ‘baby producing house keepers’. However, even with the success of the feminist movement there are still numerous issues that exist in all areas of life. Women occupy 50% of the work force but earn up to 20% less than males, 53% of the world's population is female however females only hold 1% of the world’s wealth. While feminism has come a long way in the previous years many believe that there is a long way to go before we can accurately say men and women have equal rights. The term Feminist has been around since the early nineteenth century. Since the beginning of time women have been demanding respect and equality, but it wasn’t until about a little over a century ago when women began to make any headway in their fight for equality. In the late 19th and early 20th century women first organized their fight against the wide spread abuse of alcohol, this was known as the Women's Temperance Movement. During this time women were not allowed to work and were expected to stay home and take care of the household duties. Women were forced to rely on the incomes of their male counter parts however, alcohol abuse sustained a huge threat to the financial stability of the family. In the 19th Century Americans spent about 2 million dollars on education, 9 million on food, and one billion on alcohol. Women were forced to struggle to put food on the table and had virtually no say in how alcohol consumption was being dealt with. Women were unable to state their concern as they did not have access to political town meetings where the women were forbidden to go inside. Women from across the world fought for their voice to be heard and in 1920 feminist across Canada celebrated the prohibition of alcohol. This act would forever be known as the first major reform in the first wave of feminism. The first wave of feminism focused mainly on the woman’s suffrage, however that was not the only goal of the first wave. Women demanded to have rights in regards to their children, the right to own and inherit property, to achieve a higher education level, the right to a job and of course the right to vote. As the men went off to war and women became more influential members of society the government granted the Suffragette's appeal and in 1918 women across Canada were given the right to vote. While for many, mostly those within patriarchal societies, believe that the first wave was a tremendous success for women across the nation there were still several issues regarding equality among men and women alike. Equality for all women was still a hopeful battle in the eyes of the Suffragette's as Aboriginal women living on reserves still were not given the equality shared among their fellow female citizens. Aboriginal women were not given the right to vote and would not win this right until 1960.

With the reforms following the first wave of feminism women began to integrate themselves into the society and out of the home. Women became employers and consumers and they were given more rights than they ever had before. However there was still wide spread inequality across Canada. Job ads were segregated by sex, battered women's shelters were non-existent and the public service fired female employees who got married. Feminist across Canada were left distraught at the inequality that they faced, this sparking the beginning of the Second Wave of feminism. Second Wave Feminists focused on a broad range of issues spanning from the 1960’s to the early 80’s. Although Canadian women could now work and vote they faced new challenges with discrimination in the workplace and in broader society. Some of the demands of the second wave were, equal pay, rights and protection in cases of rape and domestic violence, pornography and sexism in...
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