Sincethe beginning of mankind, women have always been discriminated againstalongside numerous other groups. Whether in terms of discrimination in theworkplace, at home, in public or in bed, it was only until the eighteenthcentury that real change and awareness of these issues became increasinglyapparent. From the first woman’s rights convention in 1848 to the signature ofthe 19th amendment in 1920, multiple events that revealed to be key in thedevelopment of a more modern view of women in society have occurred. The mostimportant include the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, World War One and itstwo acts that were passed as a result, and finally the One Package courtbattle of 1936. All of these events were major contributors in terms ofadvancing society’s view of women in terms of basic human rights, votingrights, working rights and birth control.
One ofthe most impactful turning points in history is the Seneca Falls Convention.Hosted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it was the first woman’s rights convention toever be hosted. Being the first woman’s rights convention, it stood out and wastherefore looked at as a breakthrough since it was not only the first of itskind, but it also successfully changed numerous non-believers and skepticsminds. Furthermore, at the convention, the Declaration of Sentiments wassigned. This document, introduced a base for women’s rights, which was notpreviously established. This text not only raised awareness of injusticetowards women in regards to voting rights, but also argued the equality ofbasic human’s rights shared by both men and women. Zig Ziglar, a renownedEnglish writer was once quoted to say, “the first step in solving a problem isrecognizing you have one” (“Ziglar”).
Following a similar logic, the fact thatthis type of convention and the document signed both raised awareness and was aturning point in the history of women’s rights since it can be seen to be the”first step” in establishing the rights previously stated. Finally, the SenecaFalls convention is also a major key event in history as the Declaration ofSentiments allowed women to gain support from popular figures. FrederickDouglass, a well-known believer in equality, was one of the 32 people whosigned the resolution. This is particularly important as Douglass was “one ofthe most famous intellectuals of his time, advising presidents and lecturing tothousands on a range of causes” (“Douglas”). This man’s wisdom, courage andpower gave this issue an extra push needed to raise awareness and convincethose who were skeptical or non-believers.
This created a certain bandwagoneffect. The bandwagon effect, “is a psychological phenomenon whereby people dosomething primarily because others are doing it, regardless of their beliefs”(“Bloom”). It only makes sense that with a figure of authority such asFrederick Douglass, who is respected by other men, created a more equalviewpoint among countless men. Thefirst world war was one of the most important events in terms of women’s rightsas it not only demonstrated the capabilities of women but also led to twohighly important acts, marking a new episode for the working and voting life ofwomen. Before the war, life for women in Britain mainly took place at home, astheir job was to take care of the family while their husbands went to work andearned money. However, when World War One came, as men departed to fight abroadwomen were increasingly needed in factories, shops and offices. (“Adie”).
Responsible for not only giving “more than a million” women a chance to jointhe workforce, this allowed them to demonstrate that they were able to take onwhat were at the time considered men’s jobs. Furthermore, since this was duringthe war, it offered more credibility as this proved they were able to work througheconomic crises which is harder than merely fulfilling it in simpler times ofpeace.Movingon, this display of feminine labor lead to two key acts which majorly changedthe lives of women; the Representation of the People and the SexDisqualification Act. The first act gave women of property over the age of 30the right to vote. It can be argued that the Representation of thePeople act is not as important since it did not give the right to vote for themain supporters of the Suffragette and the workers of World War one, who wereunder 30, this was still the first time that women could vote for their rights.It allowed 8.5 million to be enfranchised, an idea which was previously nevergrasped (“Trueman”).
This also signified a huge victory for Suffragettes, whohad already been fighting for such a right for the past 15 years. The SexDisqualification Act, another outcome of World War One’s display of work bywomen, also marked a rather impactful moment in history. This particular act,made it illegal to exclude women from their jobs because of gender (“Adie”).The relevancy of this act not only increased the amount of jobs available towomen, but helped get rid of the label “men’s jobs” that was established duringWorld War One.The UnitedStates vs One Package court battle was paramount in importance in terms ofthe views on birth control. Before this court case, birth control was regardedby society as obscene and absurd (Encyclopedia Britannica).
This greatlyinfluenced women’s lives negatively as there was no way of properly controllingthe birth of children legally, and therefore on numerous occasions women had toeither stop working or cut back on their education simply because they werehampered by the duties of being mothers. However, the One Package courtbattle motivated the change for this dilemma. In 1936, a shipment ofcontraceptive pills was seized by the government, leading to a battle betweenDr. Hannah Stone and the US government. Eventually, the case was closed and thecourt ruled that shipments sent to doctors could not be seized by law. Thiscourt case marked a large turning point in the history of birth control sinceit not only legalized prescribed birth control methods but also made it moreacceptable.
Although this did not make birth control entirely legal, this wasthe point in which it was first allowed to be prescribed by doctors to marriedcouples. Although there were other events which were important to thebirth control movement, such as the shutting down of Margaret Sanger’s clinic,this particular court case remains chief in terms of impact as it changed thelives of millions of women from one day to another. All inall, it is difficult to pinpoint some events as the most important in thehistory of women’s rights. While at first glance the most obvious, clear answermight be that the major events are the ones which finalized these movementsthis is not the case. Rather than the events that finalized the movement, theevents which marked a clear change which was never seen before are the onesquintessential to this course of events. The Representation of the People Actand the Seneca Falls Convention which were most crucial in the development ofvoting rights.
This is due to these two being the first of their kind; womenwere simply not allowed to vote in any way and awareness of the issue wasrelatively inexistent comparing the support before to the support gained afterthe convention. The same goes for the basic human rights of women before theconvention, to the working rights and views on women and labor before the SexDisqualification Act and to the views on birth control before the OnePackage court case. As we can see, all of these share the innatecharacteristic that they were the first of their kind in either raising awarenessor introducing change.