Women's civil rights (America)

A summary of the whole topic


Fed Gov

How Congress, SC and presidents helped women's civil rights...

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15th Amendment 1870

Although it meant AA could vote women still couldn't as it only mentioned discrimination for race, colour or previous servitude.

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Homestead Act 1862

Women able to own land in their own right

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Roosevelt and the New Deal 1934

  • Social security Act 1935- welfare benefits for the poor, helped married women however was not designed specifically with hem in mind
  • Aid to dependent children 1935- designed for women with young families and no head of household, however it was made a humiliating process in order to receive the benefit
  • Fair labour standards act 1938- new minimum wage levels, however still earned less than men

All these have benefits for women however at the same time draw backs making it seem like the fed gov were not yet willing to help a lot

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19th Amendment 1920

Gave women the vote.

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Shepherd Towner Act 1921-29

Funding for maternity and infant health education, however this was resisted by the medical profession

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Comstock Laws 1873

These made the sale, advertisement and distribution of contraceptives illegal, this led to many poorer people having large families because they couldn't afford the contraceptives which led them into deeper poverty because they had more mouths to feed.

Ended in 1938 when the fed ban was lifted, however state govs enforced own laws, however those who benefitted where those who could afford it and so illegal back street abortions continued.

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Temperance & Prohibition

*18th Amendment 1917

Prohibition, the banning of the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol women wanted this because they wanted safer homes because when men drank some got abusive

*21st Amendment 1933

Stops prohibition, alcohol had taxes on it and because it was banned there was no sales which meant the gov were getting less taxes, it also showed the class division between rich and poor.

women were divided on this issue and this came apparent when the WCTU joined the opposition in late 20s because it was clear that the law was not protecting the home.

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He wanted a civil rights act for women, and he considered their status seriously, however his policies failed to deliver promises

  • Clinton

Created huge opportunities for women in politics

  • Nixon

Vetoed Child Development Act 1972 which was a negative

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Civl rights Act & Equal Pay Act 1964

  • Civil rights act-

no discrimination on the grounds of race or gender

  • Equal Pay Act-

Stated there should be no discrimination in pay due to racer gender

The Equal employment opportunities Commision was set up to ensure both of these acts were being fulfilled.

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Roe v Wade 1973

Dealt with abortion and finally legalised it. Women were divided by this, pro-choice and pro-life groups.

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Equal Credit Opportunity Act 1974

Banned discrimination in access to credit due to race or gender

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How women themselves helped their civil rights battle...

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Jane Adams

Created Hull House in 1889 which was a social centre to support settlement of newly arrived immigrant families. Adams and her workers Became an influential pressure group urging politicians to address social issues

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Groups campaigning for temperance and prohibition

  • women's crusade 1873 and Womens Christian Temperance League took to streets to protest in Ohio and successfully closed the saloons and liquor outlets.
  • ASL allied to self with the union to push for prohibition measures.

By 1917 26 states had already favoured the prohibition laws and so the fed gov passed it, it also attracted some female voters.

  • WONPR formed in 1929, originally a supporter of prohibition but had become convinced of its failure. Leadership was powerful in this group quickly added weight to the repeal of prohibition through women.
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Rights in the workplace

*National Consumers League 1889

*Womens Tade Union League 1921

Pressure for improvement in wages for females.

Pressure to secure protective legislation for women and children in workplace and improving working condition i.e safety.

Pressure on state govs to provide aid for mothers and improved facilities for children and young people i.e schools

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National Asociation of Coloured Women

Set up in 1896 focused their campaigns on the vote, anti-lynching legislation and education something that all blacks were facing discrimination in. By 1915 had 50,000 members.

Key figure- Ida B. Wells

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Campaigning for the vote

*American Women Suffrage Association 1869

  • Carrie Chapman Catt
  • Alice Paul, Congressional Union for Women's suffrage 1915
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Falppers 1920s

New wave of feminism in the roaring twenties, often young, upper or middle class women who threw off the standards of the norms of their mothers.

Characterised by bobbed hair, short clothes and outrageous behaviour.

Majority of women disapproved showing division in women as they believed it did not help fight their battle for CR.

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Campaign for birth control and abortion

*Maragaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in 1916 which was immediately shut down by police and she spent 30 days in prison for it. She went on to establish the American Birth Control League 1921 and in 1923 established the first legal birth control clinic with backing from Rockerfeller.

  • Roe v Wade controversial and divided some supported the decision however strong opposition came from:

religious leaders who condemned the decision (catholic), Evangelical Protestant churches and some Jewish groups.

Phyllis Schlaffly, anti abortion, argued weren't real women if they did, attacked abortion clinics and most extreme was violence towards doctors who carried out the abortions

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Equal rights amendment

Began back in 1920 and was finally passed in 1972, and was sent to state legislatures for ratification.

The ERA was to make men and women equal and identical rather than recognise their distinctive qualities.

A further argument against it would be that most of the goals of the ERA had been achieved in previous legislature (CR Act 64).

Schlaffly made powerful arguments abouts it's implications if it became a constitutional amendment.

Women were alarmed as they could become subject to military service and have unisex bathrooms.

Most powerful argument it posed a threat to home and family as it could remove the obligation for divorced men to to provide financial support for offspring.

ERA lapsed.

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Societal and economic changes

How they helped women gain the vote...

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*WW1 saw women in the workplace however after the end they returned home with little change
*WW2 women in workplace again however more stayed in the workplace afterwards and it proved they could work and handle home life at the same time
Wars showed women were capable of hard work and gave them more confidence.
*Cold War increased opportunities for women for example in the space race between USSR and USA as all talents were needed. Furthermore America needed to show other countries that it was the land of the free.
Technological advances allowed for more women in the workplace (white collar work)

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1920s and Depression

Many women needed to work during the depression although it was frowned upon the employed were exploited as cheap labour by employers.
The more women in the work place the more women wanted rights.
1920s was also a time were the emergence of contraception and flappers were predominant.

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Situation 1992

*Discrimination- jobs and careers still experienced discrimination, nearer the top of jobs it was harder for women over men
*Married women had more obstacles than single women
*Barriers still existed, affordable child care and paid maternity leave we're often hard to get

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