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The 1966 feminist movement was a series of reforms on feminist issues; for instance, wage gap between men and women, fight against the imposition of traditional notions of marriage and motherhood, sexual discrimination, lack of women representation in government, and women’s suffrage (Love, 2006). The second phase led to very important reforms in feminism issues. Feminism activists spread the Women’s liberation movement seeds and a few important events took place during this phase.
During this period, Betty Friedan and 28 women started the National Organization for Women (NOW) to improve women rights (Love, 2006). The aim of NOW was to take action and assist women to fully participate in the life of the society. By 1967, the organization had 1,000 members, which increased to 15,000 members four years later (Love, 2006). The organization assisted women to become increasingly attentive to their limited opportunities and reinforced women’s determination to increase them. The organization was determined to work to reach real equality. The formation of NOW had been partly prompted by the refusal of the “Equal Employment Opportunity Commission” to put into effect Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of this Act provided women a remedy for fighting employment discrimination. Freedman (2003) argues that the 1966 feminist movement focused much on fighting cultural and social inequalities. During this period, a number of flight attendants filed Title VII complaints regarding being forced to quit when they got married, got pregnant, and reached 35 years.
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1972-Equal Rights Amendment
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution proposed that all discrimination based on sex be banned (Francis, n.d). It was sent to the states for endorsement; however, it fell short of the three-quarters of the required approval required. The amendment sought to invalidate various laws; for instance, the laws that imposed greater restrictions on women in business, laws that favored men in alimony and child-custody cases, laws that denied compensation to pregnan women who were still able to work and the different standards for the boys and girls in public school programs. The ERA was important as it represented a major step (although a failed step) in the movement towards women’s rights. It was also important because it showed that the equality between men and women was resisted by established institutions and there were instruments of oppression, which could be transformed.
1979- “Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination”
In 1979, the UN General Assembly adopted the most legally binding and comprehensive treaty on women human rights. The treaty was designated as the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.” The first 16 articles appealed to the state to implement appropriate and necessary measures with the aim of ensuring women political, civil, cultural, economic and legal equality. A committee was established to handle issues related to progress in achieving gender equality around the world. Countries that ratify or accede to the convention usually accept a legal duty to counter discrimination against women; the committee supervises national measures execution in order to fulfill this duty.
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1996- United States v. Virginia
This case was an important part of the gendered movement. The court ruled that all-male Virginia Military Institute had to admit women to continue receiving public funding. The Cidatel and Institute contravened the “Equal Protection Clause” of the 14th amendment to the constitution and hence had to open their doors to allow women to apply for admission.
The “Feminist Movement”, “Equal Rights Amendment”, “Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination” and the “United States vs Virginia” case are all important and interconnected as the feminism movement and the equal rights amendment acted as a stepping stone to the treaty for eliminating all types of discrimination and this was evident in the Court Case. The feminist movement and the Equal Rights Amendment were the foundation of elimination of discrimination against women- they highlighted the different forms of discrimination, which women faced in relation to men at home and in their workplaces and the need for getting rid of such discrimination to bring about equality. They showed that the established institutions, culture, and customary social roles threatened the drive for equality.
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The feminist movement and the amendment showed that the social roles and institutions were created historically as instruments of oppression and hence should be transformed. The Equal Rights Amendment and the treaty on all forms of discrimination articulated an all-encompassing and persistent sense of discontent in women. Women did not have any outlet for expressing themselves except for getting married and bearing children. The feminist movement was characterized by women taking up roles and responsibilities reserved for men, and these encouraged women to seek new roles and responsibilities, to search for their individual and professional identity instead of being defined by the male-dominated society. Although they achieved limited success, the feminism movement and the ERA were major steps towards enlightening women and encouraging them not to be satisfied with their oppression and minor role in relation to men. A large number of women started fighting for equal treatment and sought measures for improving their position in society. The results of such measures are evident in the adoption of the treaty on eliminating all discrimination forms by countries in order to ensure the political, civil, cultural economic and legal equality of women. Countries accepted the legal obligation of countering discrimination against women. The United States vs Virginia Case highlighted the criminal justice system effort to fight the unfairness against women. Such efforts to fight discrimination would have not been possible in case the feminist movements and the ERA did not stress on the plight of women and increase their awareness of the need to fight inequality in their homes and work places.
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