The 1960s were one of the most eventful and tumultuous periods in history. Many events were happening then, especially demonstrations dealing with the realization of civil rights. The African American community and other minority groups together with students from different learning institutions were busy fighting for the end to discrimination and prejudice among different members of the society. This led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. the act not only ensured that African Americans would be treated as equals, but it also ensured that no one would be discriminated on the basis of sex, religion, national origin, or color. The signing of this act into law encouraged many women to fight for equal treatment. Many of the women had started working during the war, as their husbands had gone to fight in the war. However, the women realized that they were being discriminated based on pay, although they were doing the same work as men. The women rights movement of the sixties dealt with many issues, and it realized the beginning of equal treatment of women in all sectors.
Many women had the benefit of studying and furthering their education. However, many of them ended up taking care of their homes and rearing children despite their education. They watched as their talent and hard work wasted at home since they could not secure jobs. Women were designated to stay in the home (Coontz, 2011). Those who were fortunate enough to find jobs often took up clerical jobs, while others worked as teachers and nurses. The realization of women as equal with men ensured that they secured better jobs and better pay. Had it not been for their efforts, many women today would not hold professional positions.
Women today work in almost all the sectors they choose. They have a chance to study and use their skills and resources to find their careers, and advance in their professions. This has enabled me to advance my education to the levels of my choosing. I am currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in business, and I want to pursue a master’s degree after this. It has enabled me to have a choice in studying the course that I want. I do not have to conform to societal expectations regarding the career I choose. Right now, I am studying courses in business and counseling. I can choose to work in different areas after completing my education. I have the freedom to choose because the women in the sixties were willing to fight for the realization of equal treatment.
Although many women studied and furthered their education, they were limited in the choice of schools they could attend. Some colleges and universities did not take women students, based on their gender, although the women were qualified to study in these institutions (Allan, 2009). Many women ended up studying in institutions that were especially designed for women. These institutions did not offer all the courses, and they offered the traditionally feminine courses. These meant that many women were denied the opportunities to become fully-fledged doctors and lawyers.
During the women rights movement, the women fought to be allowed to study in any institution in the country. This meant that no university or college could deny women the opportunity to learn. Had this not been the case, my life, and the lives of many other women would be different today/ there would be many women taking up courses that they are not interested in just because the society expects them to work in those professions. I would not be able to study counseling or take any business courses. I would probably be looking for some clerical or nursing work, because many women were employed in these professions.
Many women spoke against discrimination in their wages. Women received lower pay than the men did. The amendment of the Equal Rights Act was a first step towards ensuring that women received better wages. The signing and establishment of the act meant that companies had to do away with rules that had to do with wage discrimination (Allan, 2009). Women also fought for equal opportunities in employment. Many of them had gone to colleges and universities, and they wanted to ensure that they were considered for work placement. Had it not been for the action taken by these women, my chance of getting a job would be limited despite my years of study or level of expertise. I would also have to face the option of earning a lower pay compared to men working in the same capacity as they were.
The year 1960 began by the approval of the birth control pill by the Food and Drug Administration. This gave the women more liberty in choice of families. The birth control pill enabled women to choose when to have children. Before the approval of the pill, women had to use other crude methods of controlling pregnancy. There was a sexual revolution in the sixties and women became bolder regarding their sexuality. This was in part due to the influence of film and television. The depiction of women in television made the other women more daring, and this was reflected in their manner of dressing. Women chose to reveal more skin as they dressed in shorter skirts and wore dresses with high cleavage.
The decision by the women to fight for their rights has made it possible for me to have more control in choosing the kind of family that I want. I can choose when to get married, and I can choose the number of children I want, and when I want them. I can dress the way that feels most comfortable for me, and I do not have to worry about discomfort with the aim of appearing descent and presentable. The society has become more accommodating to the clothes that women wear, and this has in turn revolutionized and grown the fashion industry.
The women rights movement protested for different reasons, and this made the public more aware of the issues that women faced (Allan, 2009). More people were sensitized on the suffering of the American woman policy makers began taking note of the injustices that the women faced. Previously, society had not been concerned with the frustrations that white women went through. They did not understand what the women went through having to stay at home doing nothing other than bringing up their families. Many of these women were highly educated and some of them even had higher education levels compared to their husbands. Were it not for the willingness that the women in the sixties had, many women would have continued with this trend. They would probably have stopped seeking higher education a long time ago after realizing that they would not be able to benefit from it. Women have made major contributions to the economy, social life, technology, and political sphere. These contributions would not have been possible if the women had chosen to remain silent.
Many women who had gone to school chose not to advance their education so that they could get married (Coontz, 2011). Some of the women felt guilty leaving their children behind as they went for work. Women were discriminated for having children. Women who had children had fewer chances of gaining any employment if their potential employers realized they had children. Working mothers did not have any childcare options. They had to choose between working and being mothers. The guilt that many of these mothers felt on leaving their children at home meant that most women preferred taking the role of motherhood other than working.
Because of the women rights movement, I have more childcare options at work (Allan, 2009). I have one child who is one and half years old and another is on the way. I am able to dream of the possibilities of having a job and a career during and after my studies. Companies have undergone development and progress over the years, and they have provided more options for working mothers. This includes paid maternal leaves when a woman delivers, and the provision of childcare facilities in the workplace. The childcare facilities in the workplace enables women to take their children to work, since the parents are assured that they will be in a safe environment. Organizations have developed friendly non-discriminatory policies that will ensure that women who have young children are flexible enough to work at home.
The woman rights movement was not only present in America, but in other countries as well. Many women had realized the importance of being treated with dignity and respect, and they realized that they had to fight for their rights as well. Most of the women around the world were facing similar challenges as the American women were. However, some were living in conditions that were more difficult. They could not access education or even dream of getting a paying job. The women rights movement changes the perception of women. It made women more accepting of their abilities.
Many women had been downgraded so much that they believed they were inferior to the men. They did not dare to challenge men’s authority. The gains realized in the women rights movement made them realize that they had much to offer the world. More women became courageous. They not only advanced their education, but they also sought professional careers. They realized that they did not have to be married immediately they finished school. They had more control in the way they led their lives. Some of them chose to have careers and to lead single lives instead of getting married. They took business courses, and they started businesses. This has led to the growth of the economy in different areas. They sought political positions, and presently, the world celebrates several women presidents in different places around the world. Women have become influential in many areas and sectors of life.
Allan, C. (2009). Women’s rights: People and perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO
Coontz, S. (2011). A strange stirring: The feminine mystique and American women at the dawn of the 1960s. New York, NY: Basic Books
Gladstone, W. L. (2001). The long road to equality: What women won from the era ratification effort. Retrieved from http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/aw03e/aw03e.html
Hoare, J. (2009). Women’s rights movements and education for all: Connections and disconnections. Retrieved from www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/edl/1716_Equals__Low_Res_TP.pdf