Alexandra Moore English 11 Mrs. Carwile 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.
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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 etermined 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 rights. She is respectful yet aggressive while addressing the following: "'There is very little understanding yet of the immorality involved in double pay scales and the classification of most of the better jobs as 'for men only. ' More than half of the population of the United States is female. But women occupy only two percent of the managerial positions” (Chisholm 1).
It has become obvious the women were not given the same amount of pay and less job opportunities, specifically higher positions. It ties back to the political rights and how it is acceptable for women to be teachers and secretaries, but not managers, lawyers, or members of congress. These rights pertain to the labor market and although women have always worked in poor rural areas, the idea that women are limited to the positions leads to restrictions of their right to work. The rights affected women highly economically with no quality or high paying jobs.
The final rights women struggled with were civil rights which dealt with citizenship, personal, and social standards. Chisholm included in her speech, "'Women need no protection that men do not need. What we need are laws to protect working people, to guarantee them fair pay, safe working conditions, protection against sickness and layoffs, and provision for dignified, comfortable retirement” (Chisholm 1). There should not be as much protection for women and specifically, there should not be more than men.
There needs to be a larger focus on protecting the workers who need to be provided with more comfort in what they do. Women's civil rights including marriage and family law, are more contested than that of their political rights. More textual information shows, "Civil rights include the rights to hold property, to be treated equally in the courts, and to freely choose a residence or domicile. They also include equal rights to enter marriage and freely choose a spouse…” (Prugl 2). All of these rights are necessary and should be given without question.
There is no reason for men to have these responsibilities and not women. With these women can take more control of their own life which many did not have leading up to the 1960's. The nineteenth century was a time of change and introduced improvements for women in the women's rights movement with the demand for the same legal rights as men. By the late 1960's most equality between men and women was gained. One can see in the text, "The Equal Rights Amendment was the central goal of the women's rights movement in the 1970's” (Phelps and Lehman 4).
A suggestion that has been in front of congress since the early 1900's was the equal rights amendment which became part of the basic laws in the rights movement. Shirley Chisholm was made an impact in history with her desire to create a better life for women just like herself. It was a time period for change and for women to be able to speak up for themselves. Chisholm's "Equal Rights for Women" speech was historical and changed the lives for women in the United States, allowing them to gain political, economic, and civil rights. 1,208 words
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