The Feministic Movement that emerged in Europe in the 19th century was a major event that changed the perception of how females were generally thought of. The publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women (1869) ideas, social movements, and individual feminists migrated across land and sea, generating a powerful new context for the advancement of women’s rights. In this era, women’s right and emancipation were used to refer to what we today call as feminism.
Early feminists included both men and women who advocated equality for women in public institutions such as the church and the government and in the family and household. Almost all feminists advocated their right to education and literacy above everything else. These ideas were mostly fueled by major social, intellectual, economical and cultural transformations in Europe and North America. Feminist Movement has been classified into three categories or ‘waves’ by scholars.
The first wave focused mainly on women’s suffrage which was the right of a woman to vote and stand for election. Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’ described the hardships that women endured that were inflicted by men. She talked about how women were the upholders of society as they acted as mirrors to men. The first women right’s convention was held in Seneca, New York were a Declaration of Sentiments was signed that outlined the grievances of and set the agenda for women right movement. The first wave ended with the passing of the law that gave women the right to vote.
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The second wave of feminism focused on gender inequality through cultures. It focused on how educated women who were housewives were dissatisfied which led them to question if that was all that there was to their life. It talked about ending discrimination and led to women enrolling in medical school and pursuing careers. The third wave of feminism dealt with developing the different achievements of women and addressing the issues of race distinction, gender violence and reproductive rights, to name a few.
The feministic movement liberated women from pre-conceived gender specific roles and their ability to make their own decisions in all walks of life. It gave women voting rights, employment opportunities and giving them the choice to have a family or not. The feminist movement continues even today with people like Gloria Steinem, Dionne Brand, Hillary Clinton, Kurt Cobain, Betty Ford, Urvashi Vaid, Sandra Oh, Naomi Wolf and Taslima Nasreen to name a few. The Feminist Movement has played a key role for the past century and continues to this day.
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