Throughout history the rights women have gained are tremendous, on the other hand there are still many disadvantages to overcome.  From country to country, the advances women have made vary greatly.  In most nations women have obtained the right to vote.  In 1994’s, women were head of the governments of ten countries, however, in more than 100 countries there were no female members serving on their legislative bodies.  Despite efforts to equally pay men and women in the workplace, women make up nearly 70 percent of the worlds poor.  During a survey taken in the mid 1990’s women made up only 8 percent of top managerial positions in the USA.  Women remain at a disadvantage in education as well and women continue to make up more than two-thirds of students who drop out before completing the fourth grade, as well as making up for two-thirds of the worlds one billion illiterate adults.  Each year the number of females entering into higher educational programs and universities increases greatly.  Another great achievement for women is that of reproductive rights.  In many nations abortions are legal and women have a wide variety of preventive measures, such as birth control.  This achievement in many nations remains as a central continuing debate issue. 

Women's Rights

The rights that women have achieved over the past century have not only give women equal rights as men, but in some cases even special rights above men.  The rights to own property, vote, and hold office were among the first rights to be passed for women and are still present in society today.  Along with those rights came working and education as well as equal pay acts to ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender and race.  The civil rights act of 1964 also granted women as well as other races with many additional rights.  The latest addition to these rights and more are that of abortion rights and the right to choose for their own bodies.  In many nations this right is being reexamined daily because of its moral and life changing characteristics.


When the idea of sexism first appeared women had little to or rights of their own, in fact many women had no identity of their own, only that of their husbands. Today in many nations women are seen as equal in all ways possible.  The struggle is by no means over though, there are many under developed nations where women remain repressed with no rights of their own.  Also in some nations women have some rights but not all rights that they deserve.

The Age of Enlightment   

The Age of Enlightenment brought about many changes for women and men alike.  This era marks the beginning of sexism.  The struggle for women’s rights began in the 18th century, bringing with it radical changes in how women were perceived at the time and provided a new way of thinking.  At this time in history women were seen as inferior to men, which limited women to only childbearing and homemaking, which most thought was a women’s natural role. Women were excluded from owning property, working, being involved in the political system, and in most cases education.  The new way of thinking included ideas that argued that all individuals were born with natural rights that made them free and equal.  They argued those inequalities that existed only existed due to a poor educational system and an imperfect social environment.

Sexism in America 

Sexism activist in America started to take action in the early 19th century. At this time in society a religious revivalism began to take place which inspired middle class women to join evangelical societies in an effort to create moral and social reform.  Women everywhere campaigned to raise wages for women, while also providing more jobs for women.  Women also played a vital role in the temperance movement to abolish alcohol; this intern helped prevent sexual violence, adultery, and prostitution, which were all seen to be related to alcohol at the time.  Women were also largely involved with the movement to abolish slavery which is directly related to the larger organization for women’ rights.  


Although sexism along with women's rights have come so far over the past century, there is still much to be done.  The United States seems to be today the most active nation working towards equal rights for men and women alike, but there is no actual equal rights amendment.  Having this amendment would protect women from discrimination and prejudice because of their gender.  Along with the US, other nations still have much more to achieve in the pursuit of equality. 

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By:  Jennifer Greene, Michele Busse, Holly Haynes