While there is still a substantial amount of discrimination against girls with boys being given more preference in every part of the world. However, women today still have it easier than the women of the yesteryears. The only reason why we are studying and going out in the world is because our ancestors worked hard for it, took the beating for it and made sure that no other generation should go through what they went through. We bring you a list of ten of the many movements that brought about the change we live in now.
10. Women in pubs
These days, we see women frequenting the clubs more than men. However earlier, women weren’t even allowed to be seen near one. In Australia, some pubs had special ladies only room for them and at other times, women were allowed inside only if they were accompanied by a man. However, the women realized the oppression and went on to fight against this. They marched into bars leaving the ladies lounge and demanded drinks. Some even chained themselves to the bars to prove that they were not going to back down. Ultimately, the government had to give in and pass the legislation that women could drink wherever they wished to.
With rising rape cases throughout the country, many ‘thinkers’ have chosen to blame the occurrences of rape on the women and their dress-up. One would think it is common to India only but unfortunately, many so-called developed countries of the world have people who think the same. As a result, women in Canada decide to organize the SlutWalk, which eventually spread like a wildfire and reached India too. In this movement, women dress up in skimpy clothes and walk the streets shouting anti-rape slogans and making people believe that rape is in fact the society’s problem and not a girl’s dress-up. Unfortunately, closed mindsets were not able to perceive this well. But it did manage to create a flurry.
8. Reclaim the night
This movement, started in the UK in 1977, was started to give a new lease of life to rape victims and make streets safer for other women. It essentially is about reclaiming that night when the mishap took place. It consisted of torchlit marches across England in Leeds, York, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Brighton and London. This movement was inspired by Take Back the Night marches held in West Germany in 1977, again to give support to rape victims and to make streets safer. Since the blame of rape landed on women again with officials saying that women shouldn’t go out at night and putting them under curfew, these marches were essentially held at night to protest against this curfew also.
7. Right to drive in Saudi Arabia
While the law permits women to drive, the internal religious system didn’t allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. It was legally okay to drive but morally wrong. Saudi Arabian women decided to go out and loud to protest against the government in order to get them this right. One of the kingdoms’ most outspoken liberals and feminists, Wajeha al-Huwaider led women’s rights movements for a lot of causes including the right to participate in sports. But her major movement was getting women the right to drive. She did not just file petitions; she used the social media and economy to bring a ruling in her favor. She even put up a video of hers driving around Saudi Arabia which landed her behind the bars for nine days. Now more and more women drive around fearlessly and are getting their point across.
6. Suffragettes movement
In the 19th and 20th Century, women in the UK and the US began to protest against the denial of their basic right to vote. Demonstrations, marches and slogans – women used everything they could to protest. They chained themselves and tried to set fire. Many women died in the process. Many were jailed but they did not back down. Suffragettes, as the movement was called eventually, was initially a term used to ridicule the protests made by women but these women decided to use the term to their advantage and it wasn’t long before the term of ridicule turned into a term of importance. Few women over 21 were granted the right to vote in 1869 but after the protests and marches, by 1928 all women over 21 years of age were allowed to vote.
5. Birth Control Movement
Not all women desire childbirth all the time. At some point of time, they want to live for themselves. But sometimes accidents happen. To prevent that, we have contraception. However, as easily as they are available right now, they were a dream for women in the 20th century. Led by Margaret Sanger, the birth control movement began. She realized the harms of early childbirth and self-induced abortions and therefore started the movement. She even opened a birth control clinic but it was regarded as illegal and was shut down soon. Margaret was sentenced to jail. However, with her constant efforts and with more awareness and public acceptance of birth control, she was able to open a second clinic which was not shut down. The discussion became more firmly placed and the word ‘birth control’ was more widely accepted.
4. Miss America Movement
The famous Miss America contest was much less liberal than it is today now. Even though liberal seems women running around in swimsuits, that’s as conservative as it can get. But in 1968, the Miss America women were only about make-up or housework. The protest was called “The Degrading Mindless-Boob-Girlie Symbol” and women collected fake eyelashes, make-up and all products symbolizing femininity and threw them in a trash can. The idea of burning the can was floated around but the protestors couldn’t get permission to do so. The protestors accused the show producers of “representing the goal of women to be inoffensive, bland, and apolitical, ignoring characteristics like personality, articulateness, intelligence, and commitment.” They felt that the pageant was enslaving women albeit in high heels and fake make-up. From then on, the pageant became more about progressive and professional and wasn’t limited to just fake plastics.
3. Legalizing abortion
The United States pro-choice movement or the United States abortion-rights movement is a sociopolitical movement that supports the view that women should have the legal right to elective abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court in the US struck down most state laws restricting abortion which decriminalized and legalized elective abortion in various states. Recently, in Ireland, an Indian woman Savita Halappanavar lost her life because abortion was illegal even if it was fatal to the mother’s life. Her death was the trigger to a massive movement where the government was forced to pass the law which legalized abortion at any stage if it had serious health consequences.
2. The 16th December Case
The night of 16th December was one of the darkest in the history of not just India but of womankind too. When a 23-year-old was gang-raped and thrown on the streets and who succumbed to her injuries a few days later, the nation woke up and protested against the injustice. Eventually, the government had to give in a death for the rapist law was passed. Now whether or not this will be implemented effectively is up to the government but the movement did manage to bring about a certain change.
1. Black feminism
In the days of racial discrimination in the West, even Feminism wasn’t too far from it. While white women went all out in shouting about feminism, they forgot all about their black counterparts. So the war for the black feminists was not just against the patriarchy but against the racial system too. Firstly, they had to “prove to other black women that feminism was not only for white women.” Second, they also had to demand that white women “share power with them and affirm diversity” and finally, “fight the misogynist tendencies of Black Nationalism”. It is indeed kind of sad that in a movement for justice, injustice was being meted out. The Black Feminists, however, did manage to secure all the rights that whites secured for themselves and even rose above the racial discrimination to some extent.