November 14, 2012
Research Paper Final Draft
May 21, 1969 was the day that an African American woman, Shirley Chisholm changed the lives of women in the United States. Why have women been given unequal opportunities? Why are they seen as different mentally? Chisholm addresses many questions like these in her speech to speak out for the women, to question the authorities which they have been afraid to stand up against. One event can lead to many outbreaks in society that lead to a good or an unlucky future. For women, the time had come to create a high-quality future for themselves and the generations to come. Until the late 1960’s women struggled with discrimination and prejudice with political, civil, and economic rights and Shirley Chisholm took the act to stand up for the unspoken women with her “Equal Rights for Women” speech in the House of Representatives.
Shirley Chisholm was a trademark in the late 1960's and is still known to this day for her bravery and compassion towards gaining rights for women. In the United States Congress, Chisholm was the first black woman elected. The text states, "As much a feminist as an advocate of civil rights, Chisholm claims that being a woman was more of a disadvantage in her political career than being black” (Martin and Sullivan 1). She was a very successful woman involved in many political groups including the Seventeenth Assembly District Democratic Club, New York State Assembly, Congressional Committee, and also ran for the democratic nomination for presidency. One can see this when stated, "Chisholm served fourteen years in the U.S. House of Representatives and was one of the most well-known women in America in her time” (Gifts of Speech 1). Although she was productive in the assembly, she became known to be politically rebellious and fearless by which she was outspoken with her own views and beliefs. This is seen in the text as, "Shirley Chisholm challenged that the conscience of the whole nation needed to be aroused to oppose racism against blacks and sexism against women” ("Chisholm Becomes First" 3). She was an activist determined to support women with their unlived rights by gaining political power.
Political rights were one of the largest discriminates against women. Shirley Chisholm states in her speech, "…The truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black” (Chisholm 1). This is surprising knowing that this time period was heavily influenced by discrimination towards African Americans. Whether it is voting or representation in congress, women had fewer opportunities to have influence in politics. It could be either the voting systems such as proportional representation and majoritarian systems or the elimination of quotas. As shown in the text, "Although women formally have equal political rights in most countries, their representation in parliaments and governments is far below their proportion in the population” (Prugl 2). In the total seats in parliaments, women hold less than twenty percent. Taking into account that in the United States population there are 3.5 million more women, this situation is shameful. Also one can find in her speech, "'Women are already protected under the law and do not need legislation…If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?” (Chisholm 2). Parliament saw the opportunity to say that women and men are equal but have no information to back this up. They say women and men are equal but make a big deal if one becomes elected into congress. Chisholm defends the need for political rights for women and how there should be no higher principles with men.
Women also struggled with economic rights and the most popular dealt with jobs and pay versus men. The topic that prejudice has become acceptable is present throughout Shirley Chisholm's beliefs on economic...