Emancipation of women is the process of setting women free from legal, social and political restrictions. It is an effort to secure equal rights for women and remove gender discrimination.
Have you ever thought of emancipation of women as means of humiliating men? If you have not then you will realize that it is about granting an opportunity to choose.
The emancipation of women is not about making a female equal to a male. Moreover, it is not about making one of them inferior to the other. Emancipation gives everybody, both women and men, the possibility and freedom to choose. They make choices about their future, their job and their time. The shared fulfillment of household duties is also about emancipation.
Both women and men should be able to make a genuine choice which can result in a cultural and social change. That is to say, when a society emancipates a woman it gets rid of traditional gender roles, groundless duties imposed on women only.
Politics, business, and other aspects stop being men’s domain only.
Emancipation of women hasn’t appeared just by chance. It has its roots in the history of women’s rights movement. People fought and they still fight to make the world equal for everybody.
What is Emancipation of Women? Who is the Emancipated Woman?
Freedom and equality for all women! This is what the movement of emancipation of women is about. This motto makes everyone believe that the sun will rise in a totally new world. In this world, a woman is supposed to be free to control her own destiny. And that free woman is full of enthusiasm, courage and ideas.
Emancipation of women makes possible for a female to be a human in its truest sense. Women are humans, of course. But when societies oppress them, they lose nearly everything a human being can have.
That is to say, when a woman is emancipated she must be free in all her activities without facing artificial obstacles. All her ideas and desires should be fully expressed without fear to be made stay quiet.
More academic and a dictionary definition for an emancipated female says:
a woman who is free from old social limitations and customs.
As for emancipation of women, it is:
belief in or advocacy of women’s social, political, and economic rights, especially with regard to equality of the two genders.
To put it simply, an emancipation of women is just the same as feminism. Let’s have a look at what she has achieved through her emancipation.
- First and foremost-she achieved equal suffrage. The right to vote was one of the greatest achievement of the emancipation of women.
- It has brought her an economic equality with men as well. Successful business women who redefine markets, business traditions and standards are no news to us.
- Being a female in the male-dominated businesses is no longer surprising. As the economic status and independence of women rise, women become less dependent on marriage or their husbands to provide for them. This leads to the increase in their social independence.
- Women’s rights have undergone changes in terms of education as well. Being educated is not boys’ privilege only. Today boys and girls can sit next to each other and learn everything together.
- Every day more people realize that women do not belong within four walls of the house. They can also be amazing heads, leaders, and politicians.
- Emancipation of women made parental leave possible as well. Though sometimes free, but some companies offer new dads to take a paternal leave and help their wives.
As you see mindsets, traditional approaches and perceptions of gender roles have changed a lot. This has resulted in the change of women’s status in the society. That is to say, the emancipation that went on over 200 years, worked.
It began with women’s rights movement two centuries ago and goes on until today.
History of Women’s Rights Movement
It is very easy to define what women’s rights are about. These are the rights claimed for women and girls worldwide. In some countries, these rights are supported by law, local customs, and behavior, whereas in others they are ignored and suppressed.
A historical and traditional bias against the exercise of human rights by women and girls, works in favor of men and boys. It still exists in many societies. If we look back at the history of women’s rights, it is clearly seen that women fought for practicing equal rights and opportunities as men and nothing more.
It is really easy to understand what women’s rights are about. But the history behind it can’t be told that easily. It is full of lots of turns and twists. In fact, the importance of women’s rights formed the basis for the women’s rights movement in the 19th century.
It turned into a feminist movement during the 20th century. Over history, this has taken the form of gaining property rights, the right of women to vote, reproductive rights, and the right to work for equal pay.
The History of Women’s Rights in the 19th Century
Generally, historians differentiate between two waves of feminism in history. The first one refers to the movement held in the 19th century. It had anti-slavery movement as its background.
The second wave hit in the 1960s and 1970s. Women went to the bitter end during those movements. But many of their gains were made during the two eras of activism for women’s rights.
The emancipation of women in the 19th century had a connection with the movement to abolish slavery. That century itself was a time filled with cultural, political, and socio-economic transformation across Europe and the USA.
Such activism brought fundamental changes in the role of women. That happened due to women’s efforts and fights for their rights in legal, economic, and political spheres.
The effort to secure women’s rights began at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. A group of women and men drafted and approved the Declaration of Sentiments, an impassioned demand for equal rights for women, including the right to vote. They did their best to get all the amendments.
Women’s Rights Movement in 1960s-1970s
The women’s movement became more popular in May 1968 when women began to read the book written by a defender of women’s rights, Simone de Beauvoir. De Beauvoir has explained why it was difficult for talented women to become successful.
The obstacles de Beauvoir enumerates include:
- women’s inability to make as much money as men do in the same profession
- women’s domestic responsibilities
- society’s lack of support towards talented women
- women’s fear that success will lead to an annoyed husband or prevent them from even finding a husband at all.
De Beauvoir also argued that woman lack ambition because of the way they were brought up. According to him, girls were told to follow the duties of their mothers, whereas boys were told to accomplish more than their fathers.
The women’s rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s focused on abolishing workplace inequality via anti-discrimination laws. The women’s movement fought for equality through lobbying Congress to change laws.
The participants also promoted articles about harassment and domestic violence through the media. They tried to raise awareness of how the women’s rights movement and feminism could help ordinary women overcome all the obstacles.
While doing it, the activists defined and campaigned against sexual harassment as well. It was legally defined as a violation of women’s rights in 1980. At the same time, the movement used legal power as well. They used to carry out lawsuits, formal complaints, protests, and hearings to bring legal change.
By the late 1970s, they managed to bring tangible, far-reaching gains, including the outlawing of gender discrimination in education, college sports, and obtaining financial credit.
Emancipation of women today
Today the gains of the feminist movement include:
- women’s equal access to education
- their increased participation in politics and workplace
- their access to abortion and birth control
- the existence of resources to aid domestic violence and rape victims
- the legal protection of women’s rights.
In other words, the women’s movement brought enormous changes in Western societies. Women’s right to vote, as well as the right to initiate divorce proceedings and “no-fault” divorce, the right to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy and the right to own property make women less dependent on their families or husbands.
Women’s employment chances have also enlarged. The women’s rights movement and feminist marches have resulted in broad employment for women. The access to school and university education is another achievement.
Once the American feminist, Betty Friedan wrote:
What used to be the feminist agenda is now an everyday reality. The way women look at themselves, the way other people look at women, is completely different… then it was thirty years ago…Our daughters grow up with the same possibilities as our sons.
Unfortunately, those achievements are often taken for granted. Many feminists go on striving for increased equality between men and women. Many societies still restrict the women’s rights and deprive them of many opportunities.
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