We've come a long way. Imagine a world where women are considered second-class citizens, not allowed to own property, maintain wages, sign a contract, vote or even hold an opinion independent of their husbands. Seems unimaginable doesn't it? Yet that was our history in the United States and it is only through the bravery, dedication and hard work of many individuals and organizations that the rights we take for granted today, exist.
1776 Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John, who is attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, asking that he and the other men, who were at work on the Declaration of independence, "Remember the Ladies."
1840 The World Anti-Slavery Convention is held in London. Abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attend, but were barred from participating in the meeting. This snub leads them to decide to hold a women's rights convention when they return to America.
1848 The first women's rights convention in the United States is held in Seneca Falls, New York. There are more than 300 in attendance. Many participants sign a "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions" that outlines the main issues and goals for the emerging women's movement. Thereafter, women's rights meetings are held on a regular basis.
SENECA FALLS CONVENTION
1851 Sojourner Truth delivers her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech at a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio.
1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization for white and black women and men dedicated to the goal of universal suffrage.
1868 The 14th Amendment is ratified, which extends to all citizens the protections of the Constitution against unjust state laws. This Amendment was the first to define "citizens" and "voters" as "male."
1870 The 15th Amendment gives African American men the right to vote.
1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial (denied trial by jury) in Rochester, New York, for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election.
At the same time, Sojourner Truth appears at a polling booth in Grand Rapids, Michigan, demanding a ballot; she is turned away.
1890 Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr found Hull House, a settlement house project in Chicago's 19th Ward. Within one year, there are more than a hundred settlement houses, largely operated by women, throughout the United States.
The settlement house movement and the Progressive campaign of which it was a part propelled thousands of college-educated white women and a number of women of color into lifetime careers in social work. It also made women an important voice to be reckoned with in American politics.
1918-1920 World War I erupts and slows down the suffrage campaign. Some suffragists decide to shelve their suffrage activism in favor of "war work." In the long run, this decision proves to be a prudent one as it adds yet another reason to why women deserve the vote.
1920 The 19th Amendment, which grants women the right to vote, is ratified. The League of Women Voters is established.
Women finally get the right to vote in 1920
1941 A massive government and industry media campaign persuades women to take jobs during the second World War. Seven million women respond, becoming industrial "Rosie the Riveters," and more than 400,000 join the military.
1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger, launching the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.
1960 The Food and Drug Administration approves the use and distribution of birth control pills.
1963 The Equal Pay Act, signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, requires equal pay for men and women performing equal work.
1973 In Roe vs. Wade, the United States Supreme Court establishes a women's right to abortion, overriding the anti-abortion laws of 46 states.
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor is the first woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel in space.
1992 Women owned businesses employed more workers in the United States than the Fortune 500 companies did worldwide.
1992 In "The Year of the Woman," a record number of women run for public office, and win. Twenty-four women are elected to the United States House of Representatives and six to the United States Senate.
1993 Women held a record number of positions in state as well as federal government. 3 governors, 11 lieutenant governors, 8 attorneys general, 13 secretaries of state, 19 state treasurers, 6 senators, 48 in the House of Representatives.
In spite of all these accomplishments and progress, women in the United States still experience abuse because of their gender, people doubting their abilities to lead or perform the same duties as men, and unequal pay for similar jobs to men.