Prepare yourself for the International Women’s Day, a great opportunity to express respect, appreciation and love for women.
Recently, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to lead a major party in a presidential election in the United States. And while this may be a first in the U.S., it certainly is not a first internationally. Political leaders such as Israel’s Golda Meir or India’s Indira Gandhi, that led their countries in the late 60’s, Margaret Thatcher, who led England throughout the 80’s and even Angela Merkel, the first and current chancellor of Germany, have paved the way for women everywhere.
And while today, women have made and are continuing to make great strides towards gender equality, this has not always been the case. So in honor of Hillary’s primaries’ election, another indication of progress, let’s look back at the history of feminism and its evolution up to current times.
The first voices of feminism were heard in the end of the 18th century, during the French Revolution. It was a time of awareness of rights, individualism and democracy. However, women were not recognized as equal to men in regards to political and property rights. And because of this, the voice of women as a collective group was born.
Throughout the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, as the perspective on rights and equality evolved, so did feminism. This first wave of feminism was motivated from the desire for equal legal rights, specifically the right to vote. By the early 1920’s, the U.S. and most modern countries inserted women’s voting rights into legislation. This was the first major victory for women as a collective group.
The second wave of feminism occurred from the 1960’s until the end of the 1980’s. Unlike the first wave, which dealt mainly with legal inequalities and absolute rights, this wave dealt with cultural inequalities and discrimination. The widely accepted notion, that men went to work while women stayed at home with the family, was brought into question. One major factor of this era was the vast growth of female presence in the academia, as the challenging of status quo stemmed from the academia. This era proved to be a turning point in many regards, including education, employment, a cultural advancement in equality and a sexual awakening.
After the second wave, different types of feminism were formed, each with its own agenda and goals. This can be seen in the third wave, from the late 80’s till the early 00’s, and the fourth wave, which has started in the past decade. These waves stemmed from the belief that the second wave failed, therefore there was a need to continue the struggle, and strive for complete equality with no discrimination.
While the female struggle is not yet over, far from it, we can agree that great strides and progress has been made in this regard. Perhaps “Clinton ’16” will be another step towards gender equality, and another major victory for feminism can be written in the history books.