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5 Facts of the History of Women’s Rights

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Maria Rainier

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that, “no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.  This first section protected individuals’ rights from the state governments, as apposed to the Bill of Rights which was only protection from the federal governments.  But did you know that this Clause was written before women could even vote?

#1 - Voting Rights

Ever since the 1800s, women and men fought for women’s rights in America.  The Nineteenth Amendment of the US Constitution granted the right for women to vote in 1920.  That was less than 100 years ago.

#2 - Commission on the Status of Women 

In addition to voting, women continued to lobby against continuing workforce discrimination.  When Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed by President Kennedy’s establishment of the Commission on the Status of Women, an issue was reported by the Commission in 1963 which exposed discrimination against women at work, and made recommendations to correct what was unfair - hiring practices, affordable child care, paid maternity leave, etc. 

#3 - Equal Pay Act

On June 10 of the same year, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed by Congress, which made it illegal for women to receive less than a man for the same job.  However, the Court of Appeals later ruled in 1972 that men and women should have “substantially equal” pay, instead of identical.

#4 - Marriage

When it comes to marriage, only since October of 2010 was the No-fault Divorce Law passed in all 50 states.  The first state to pass the law was California in 1969.  The law allows divorce by either party without requiring evidence that the respondent may have committed in breach of the marital contract.

#5 - The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act made it illegal for an employer to discriminate against pregnant woman.  This includes the fact that a woman can’t be fired, denied promotion or employment, nor forced to take leave if she is pregnant and wanting to work.

Equality Today

More recent events of women’s rights seem to be in regards to the law being mostly in women’s favor.  President Obama, for example, just signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act in 2009.  The Act allows women victim to pay discrimination the ability to file a complaint within the first 180 days of their last paycheck, as apposed to what used to be the first unfair paycheck.  On top of that certain bans have been lifted and laws more enforced.  Knowing all of what we’ve accomplished is a good step in supporting the progressive movement of gender equality.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education where she’s recently written about continuing education programs along with a guide to online physical science programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, traveling, and working with origami.

Photo by Davelonsdale.

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