By women for women: paving the way for our rights

Time and time again women have continuously fought back against the clutches of their patriarchal zeitgeists in the pursuit of equal opportunities.

From the relentless protests of the suffrage movement to the female empowerment and unity demonstrated at the height of #MeToo, the female fight for true societal change has been documented in American history over the past several centuries.

Pioneering the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony trail-blazed the path toward the American women’s right to vote. Dedicated to the movement, Anthony was arrested and convicted for illegally voting in 1872, arguing that the 14th amendment granted her the right to vote as a U.S. citizen.

Because of her active efforts in the pursuit of equality within politics, women were now allowed to be involved in the decision-making of American legislature with the ratification of the 19th amendment in the 1920s. This was made 14 years after her death.

In a cultural climate where a woman’s worth to society lies within their reproductive ability to breed, this historical shift is a monumental point in American history.

Because women were viewed through a lens of inferiority, anti-suffragists viewed this newly-appointed right as an attack on their manhood as voting was exclusively a male privilege up until then.

Although she didn’t get to bask in the glory of her achievements, women in the U.S. now have the luxury of exercising their right to vote due to her efforts, which many might take for granted from time to time.

Similarly as impactful, Rosa Parks’ determination in the struggle of racial equality for Black U.S. citizens changed American history when she refused to give her bus seat and be moved to the “colored” section in 1955.

In a time of severe segregation, Parks’ refusal to comply with the racist norms of the time was revolutionary as her resistance sparked successful boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama, becoming a catalyst of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

Rosa Parks’ contributions extended beyond racial equality as she actively fought for Black women’s suffrage and southern Black women’s right to vote during a time where Black citizens faced poll taxes and literacy tests, preventing them from casting their ballots.

Her efforts contributed to the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited the discrimination of voting barriers on the basis of race and gender.

Without her defiance, segregation may have remained a prevalent issue for Black Americans in the 20th century, forever altering the course of history.

With priorities pertaining to reproductive justice and labor equity for women, New York’s 14th congressional district representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a great representative of a Latina female leader striving for women’s access to equal rights in the present day.

In the wake of the Supreme Court rule that overturned Roe v. Wade in late June of 2022, Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755), a federal legislation that bans government restrictions on the accessibility to abortion reproductive care. This bill prioritizes providing legal protection to those who seek abortion services across the nation.

Although the bill failed to pass the Senate in 2022, Ocasio-Cortez’s fight for reproductive healthcare has not wavered as she and several other Congress members were arrested and fined by Capitol police in July of 2022 during a reproductive rights protests as they were engaged in peaceful civil disobedience.

Despite facing constant disrespect from her male counterparts in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez’s persistent activism for women’s rights showcases the modern fight for gender equity, representing the future of American women in politics.

Although significant change has occurred in the span of the last century alone, great progress must still be made as issues like gender wage gaps, gender-based violence, accessibility to education, and inadequate healthcare still disproportionately affect women, not only in America but across the globe.

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