Throughout the entire world women have been denied basic human rights for a multitude of reasons. A majority of these reasons were along the lines of women being inferior to men and incapable of completing tasks, which were believed to be only for men. Traditionally, women were meant to be the ones who stayed at home, which was respectable at the time. They were expected to clean the house, take care of the children, and have dinner ready by the time their husbands arrived home from work. As women slowly began to venture out from their homes, they realized that they were being neglected from all the rights that men have and they did not. They realized they were being robbed of the right to vote, the right to a job, the right to obtain a social status and many more of the freedoms that men had at the time. Women relied heavily on their husbands income to live, they relied on them for basically everything, money, food, clothing and transportation. Once women fully understood the losses they were facing from their lack of rights they decided to begin to fight for their rights.
Women have been treated as domestic beings and typically did what they were told to do. During the 1800’s some women were given a working opportunity during the Civil War. However, this “job” was fully voluntary and not paid; women did it anyway because it was a change of location from their home. However, the job description was not much different from the one they were used to doing in their homes. During this time, women would carry the men who were injured off of the battlefield, cook for the soldiers, care for them, and do their laundry. Sound familiar? Although the tasks they were doing were not much different then the ones they were doing at home, the feeling they got from the change of environment and actually contributing to society was fulfillment in itself. Soon after women began to really fight for the rights that they deserved.
In May of 1869 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. Their goal was to gain women the right to vote by means of a congressional amendment to the constitution (Ann-Marie Imbornon). This was a huge step in history because prior to this there hadn’t been many serious efforts to change anything about the way women were treated. A few months later in November of 1869 Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell proceeded to form the American Woman’s Suffrage Association. This organization had a similar objective however, they mainly focused on gaining women the right to vote on a state level rather than national one (Ann-Marie Imbornon). Wyoming was the first of the 50 states to pass a women’s suffrage law. They gave women their right to vote in December of 1869 and soon after women were serving on juries that were in Wyoming. This was a massive time in U.S history and it was a step in the right direction however women were still a long ways from being free. During the year of 1890 both organizations came to the the realization that they would work better and stronger if they worked as one. They called themselves the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association better known as NAWSA and worked to pursue state by state campaigns to further the advancement in women’s voting rights. Slowly but surely they were able to grant women the right to vote in 16 different states some of which were New York, California, Washington and more by the year of 1918 (Ann-Marie Imbornon).
As you can tell the progress for women’s suffrage rights was a very long a tedious fight however, the women were consistent and persevered through all the difficulties and were inevitably given what they were fighting for. The fight took over 40 years however on August 26th of 1920 the 19th amendment was passed giving women in the United States the right to vote anywhere. From 1869 to 1920 other advancements were made in women’s rights such as the first birth control clinic being opened in Brooklyn, New York. This clinic allowed for women to get proper care and safe abortions. The National Women’s Trade Union League also known as the WTUL was established in order to advocate for improved working wages for women along with safer working conditions and better job opportunities (Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter). These progresses may seem small to where we are at now but they were major changes for the time being and were truly huge advances for the women who were fighting for so long.
These rights gave women the confidence and helped them to gain the respect they had deserved in the first place. With simply gaining these rights that seem so simple to us today women were now able to do things that we take for granted. Women had no property rights and were therefore forced to be respectful to their husbands and the men in their life otherwise they could end up homeless (Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter). Although they were not allowed to own property, they were required to pay property taxes. Women were also not allowed to initiate a divorce and were forced to stay in a relationship regardless of the circumstances because their husband had to be the one to want to separate, and that rarely happened. In the case that it did occur and the couple had children, women were not likely to gain custody of the child. They were not allowed to attend a college or a University because the schools did not accept female students. These laws were all passed and voted for by men and when women gained their right to vote they were able to change all the ways in which they were previously wronged by men (Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter).
Over the years women have gained the respect of industries and are beginning to make huge contributions to the workforce. Women are being elected at the public office level and hold 11% of the seats in Congress and 21% of the seats on the state level (Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter). Although those number may still seem small these women have made tremendous progress in changing local, state, and federal laws that have limited the social status and legal roles of women in the United States (Bonnie Eisenberg and Mary Ruthsdotter). Women in the United States have entered the professions, businesses and trades of every kind since the 1920’s and have exceeded at doing so. A female doctor or nurse was never heard of prior to the 1920’s and they have now become female dominated professions. Although it may seem as though we have made our mark and become equal in the workforce there is still a very long way to go because in the United States women still face harassment by men who feel as though they are more powerful in the workforce. As women we still endure unfair payment compared to men when we are doing the same jobs as them and sometimes doing it better then they are. The Women’s Rights Movement has come a very long way in the United States and have been successful in changing the circumstances and hopes for women. However, there is still a lot of fighting to do before women are considered equal to men and these injustices are being daily.
Although the United States has made progress with the help of female lead organizations other countries have made little to no progress. Women in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Nigeria, and the Arab Republic of Egypt are still facing ridiculously unfair treatment. These countries have not progressed in helping women and if anything have taken steps backwards. These women face restrictions that women in the United States cannot even imagine facing. They live under constant fear of men and are too afraid to stand up and try to make a difference. Women from the United States have attempted to help women in these countries but have had little to no success in doing so. Women that live in these countries are so far from being considered equal to men that they can not even imagine what it is like to be treated the way women are treated in the United States.
Women in Iran are not allowed to travel outside of the country without getting permission from their husband or father first and in a lot of cases they are not even allowed to travel outside the country alone. “In September the captain of Iran’s female football (soccer) team, Niloufar Ardalan, couldn’t play in an international tournament in Malaysia because her husband forbade her from traveling” (Human Watch). Women are not allowed to go to stadiums in Iran to watch men’s volleyball or soccer games and this law will go as far as arresting them if they even attempt to enter the stadium at the time of a men’s’ game. Simply allowing women to watch the games would be a tremendous step towards women in Iran gaining the freedom they deserve. In Iran women are also forced to wear a hijab or a head scarf regardless if whether or not they follow the muslim religion. If they are caught out in public without a head scarf they can be arrested or even killed by male law enforcement. These women face grueling conditions of life and cannot make the changes that they deserve out of fear of retaliation. Given that the government of Iran is made up of male leaders even if they tried to make progress they would most likely not succeed and their living conditions may become even worse then they are now. The idea of freedom for women in those countries is so unheard of and not realistic because of how their lives have been lived for so long.
Saudi Arabia enforces some of the most restricting laws against women in today’s world. Women in Saudi Arabia have never been allowed to drive a vehicle and women who have attempt to defy this law have been shot and arrested (CNN). Hundreds of women have been protesting against this law by driving vehicles however by doing this they are risking their arrest and the possibility of death. Driving is an essential part of everyday life and most people cannot even imagine their lives without being able to get anywhere when they needed to. However, the idea of traveling as whole for women is a foreign concept in Saudi Arabia because women are not allowed to obtain a legal form of identification or a passport without permission from a legal male guardian or their husbands. In fact, women there are not allowed to mix freely with people of the opposite sex who are not their husbands or family members (CNN). When going out to public restaurants women are required to utilize a separate entrance then men and can only eat at restaurants that offer a designated family dining area meaning that it is a seperate room for women with husbands. When it comes to the loss of a family member, women in Saudi Arabia are only entitled to receive half of the inheritance that their brother received because one male vote is equivalent to the vote of two men. These laws have been in place for a very long time and do not appear to be changing anytime soon because women are afraid to protest against due to violent hate crimes that could possibly be done against them.
Similar to the difficulties women faced in the United States almost 200 years ago, women in Israel are unable to file for a divorce without permission from their husbands. In the case of domestic violence, there is nothing a women can do to get out of the relationship and often must endure the torture of their abuser for the entirety of their life. However, unlike the previous countries talked about, Israeli women have made tremendous progress and have put up a huge fight in standing up for the rights they deserve. Women in Israel dyed their shoes bright red in fight against violence towards women and laid them out throughout the streets of Israel. The shoes represented the 24 women that have been reportedly killed this year due to domestic violence that was reported. “Media outlets reported that people chanted for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ‘wake up, our blood is not cheap.’ (Sasha Ingber). The women wanted to make sure that their message was heard by the government and needed to make sure they knew that Israeli women were not going to stay silent anymore (Sasha Ingber). Activists also carried signs with the names of the women that were killed by male figures in their life painted in red to represent their blood. Women are finally acknowledging that the only way they are going to get the rights they deserve is to fight for them, and that is exactly what they are beginning to do. By working together these women are empowering each other in such dangerous times and making a difference for the generations of young women to come. They are finally realizing their worth and will not stop until they are treated as such.
According to section 55 of Nigeria’s Penal Code men are allowed to hit women in order to correct them for their wrong doings or if it is felt necessary (Human Rights Watch). Since there is no real way of justifying the ideas or right or wrong there is no way to truly punish a man for hitting a women. One’s ideas of right and wrong can differ according to taught values and personal morals and therefore there is no true way of imprisoning a man for abusing a women. In Nigeria over 81% of women are unable to receive an education which hinders their right to pursue a profession and inevitably live the life they want to live. Due to this standard women are often forced to stay at home and care for their children along with doing tedious housework. As humans we have the right to a fair education however due to standards all around the world millions of women go their entire life without even learning how to read. The ratio of Nigerian females attending some type of school to Nigerian males is roughly one female to every 4 males and not much is being done to change that.
As a world so focused on the idea of “equal rights” there are still millions of women who face unequal treatment on a daily basis. These women are often in situations in which they are unable to even make a dent in fixing these situations. Although the United States has come a very long way in treating women as humans, hundreds of countries around the world to this day still do not treat women as humans but instead as belongings of men. If human rights are considered a universal thing then why are millions of women all around the world being killed in attempt to receive them? As women we need to ensure that we make progress and fight harder each day to receive the rights that we are entitled to. If the one step these nations make is simply allowing women the right to receiving a legal form of identification then they are already one step closer to inevitably making women more equal to men now. Women rights are human rights and the sooner all women begin to realize this the sooner they will obtain access to fair treatment, education, jobs and even traveling. This world is unfair however, that is not a reason for women to be silenced because they deserve to be heard and they deserve every right and every opportunity that men have for simply being men.