||Since of the government. During the| ||early history

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||Since the first American colonies existed, women|
||have been characterized for having less civil rights|
||with less career opportunities than men. For many|
||years women have been fighting to enjoy their own|
||rights. Women have raised their voices to demand|
||their full civil and political rights. Women have|
||had to overcome many economic, political, and even |
||social obstacles created by men just to be treated |
||in an equal way in the American society.|
||Generally, the women? lives have been characterized |
||for being women full of struggles, obstacles and|
||pain. That is why women decided to demand their own |
||rights through their vote. Which their vote will|
||symbolize the expression of their rights and voices |
||in the face of the American society. The first|
||obstacle that women had to overcome was to get their|
||right to vote. It was an obstacle because women|
||without vote married women did not have a legal|
||voice in the face of the government. During the|
||early history of the United States, a man owned his |
||wife and children as they were any material of his |
||possessions. For example if a poor man decided to|
||drop his children to the poorhouse, the children?|
||mother was unable to defense her children (Women?|
||International Center 2).|
||They are some of several obstacles in the old |
||American society. However these obstacles came from |
||the traditional society custom. The traditional|
||roles for women were to raise children and just to |
||become a wife and a mother. Even thought it is hard |
||to understand that motherhood and wifehood were the |
||most significant professions that women could have |
||(Women? International Center 1). Women could not|
||enter most professions. Women had to overcome the|
||obstacle regarding educational areas. To be more|
||specific a daily life of a girl of 19-years-old was |
||to be sitting for hours sewing gloves in the company|
||of other women, working for low wages, with no|
||aspiration, with no hope of going on in school or|
||even owning any kind of property. In fact, if she|
||decided to marry, her children and even the clothes |
||on her body would belong to her husband (Clinton|
||35). Women had to study traditional areas like|
||writing or teaching (Women? International Center 3) |
||and if they study those untraditional disciplines|
||like medicine, economic or law, they will considered|
||odd (Kreeps 35). This obstacle is more than an|
||obstacle it is a limitation for the women?|
||?orking women often faced discrimination on the|
||mistaken belief that, they were married or would|
||most likely get married; they would not be permanent|
||workers?(Women? International Center 3). The women |
||working in some ?en? professions and jobs?(Women?|
||International Center 2), caused an huge economic|
||obstacle in the American society because if a woman |
||that worked in a same job than a men, women were|
||paid about 45 percent less than men for the same|
||jobs (Barko 43). In the American society was a lot |
||of limitation in the areas of career opportunities. |
||However, in the United States during the World War |
||II almost 300,000 women served in the Army and Navy,|
||working as secretaries, typists, and nurses (Women? |
||International Center 3). It was a big step for women|
||in the labor area because in 1989, women were part |
||of a 45 percent of employed persons in the United|
||States, but they had only a small participation in |
||the decision-making jobs (Women? International|
||Center 3).|
||Women could not decide how many children they would |
||like to have. Families had, on average seven |
||children to take care. Many women died in|
||childbirth, and many others did not see their own|
||children grow into adulthood (Costello 25). Abortion|
||was also a political and, social obstacle because|
||both the government and the church did not agree|
||this idea. Women did not have the right to control |
||even their own body, specially the right to control |
||their own sexual reproduction (Eisenberg 5). |
||Limitations on a woman? rights included the|
||inability to establish a legal identity separate|
||from that of her husband, to control her|
||reproductive capacity, to sue or be sued, to own|
||property in her own name, or to pursue a career of |
||her choice (Jarvis, 150). The inability of taking|
||the control of their own reproduction was a huge|
||obstacle for women because women with a lot of|
||children could not work; they had to take care of|
||their babies. And these women with babies become|
||dependable of their husbands simply because their|
||husbands bring the money to home. |
||The status of women under the law began to change|
||once women began to organize for their political|
||rights and voting for policies that were in their|
||interests (Jarvis 151-52). If Women did not have the|
||right to vote, they could not express themselves|
||through it, they would not have the respect that|
||they deserve. After women recognized all of these|
||kinds of obstacles, women decided to stop the |
||unfairness treatment for them.|
||The awakening of women began with the visit to|
||America of Frances Wright? Scottish lecturer and|
||journalist?ho promoted women? rights through the|
||United States during the 1800s (From Revolution to |
||Reconstruction.). Women realized that they should|
||fight for their own rights. In the 1840s a group of |
||American women got together to began to demand for |
||the Women? Rights Movement (Eisenberg 1-2). This|
||group was lead by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and |
||Lucretia Mott which they organized the first Women |
||convention at Seneca Falls, New York. The convention|
||was a declaration to demand their equality with men |
||to the eyes of the law, the right to vote, and equal|
||opportunities in education and employment (Eisenberg|
||Getting the right to vote at the convention at the |
||Seneca Falls was the first women? obstacle overcame.|
||However, in the same year, Ernestine Rose, a Polish |
||immigrant, was the key for getting a law passed in |
||the State of New York that allowed married women to |
||own their property rights which this helped to|
||declare the Married Women? Property Act (From |
||Revolution to Reconstruction.). Thanks to these|
||declarations today the things had been changed|
||because women now can own any kind of property. And |
||they not only vote but vote in larger numbers than |
||men (Costello 25).|
||According to Juanita M. Kreps in her article, ?n|
||time several major social changes altered women?|
||lives dramatically. More and more women?ncluding|
||married and single women and those with and without |
||young children?oined the labor force. And Education |
||and training opportunities for women expand a little|
||more.?Through the declaration of the women? civil|
||rights, now they can live a life without sex |
||discrimination which also was an obstacle overcame. |
||Today, sex discrimination had been prohibited by the|
||federal and state law, in employment, education and |
||housing (American Civil Liberties Union). Now most |
||of the professions are open to women, although the |
||?lass ceiling?is still a barrier to women?|
||development in their jobs (Costello 25) because the |
||opportunities exist but those are really hard to|
||reach for women.|
||Now most American have to assume that the legal|
||status of women in the United Stated today is so|
||well established that it is not subject to|
||significant challenges. At the end of the twentieth |
||century, the status of women in U.S. society was|
||getting a tremendous change. In recent years, the|
||opinions relating to a women? right to control her |
||reproductive process, and equal level to educational|
||opportunities have dominated the public discussion. |
||Looking toward the next century, it is clear that|
||legal issues concerning the status of American women|
||including their personal lives, at school, in the|
||workplace, and at the ballot box will continue to|
||have a significant impact on women? ability to|
||succeed in the aspect of global economy (Jarvis|
||Today? women are very different from the Colonial|
||times even socially, politically, and economically. |
||Now women can vote and express their voices through |
||it. And actually women vote in larger numbers than |
||men. However, how we can explain in the history of |
||this country we have not experienced the time of|
||having a woman as a President of the United States. |
||Now many educational and jobs opportunities exist on|
||an equal level for women and men. The right of|
||abortion, while still under attack, is guaranteed by|
||the Constitution. As a result of these obstacles,|
||women today participate in all aspect of society on |
||a more equal basis than ever before.|

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Throughout of womens movements would be to

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Throughout history, women have been dominated by men, and were not given their human rights, simply because they were women. Nevertheless, starting the eighteenth century, some women started showing their dissatisfaction with their unfair conditions. They came to realize that since they were human beings, then they must have equal rights as men. In this paper, I intend to show the historical back ground of the earliest womens movements in the world, and to state the major achievement of these movements. Finally, I would like to throw some light on the changes in the status of women in Lebanon.
Women have not been sleeping when it came to their rights. However, women have not been able to anything about their rights for several reasons. For example, the role of women was to take care of the home while the husband was winning bread for the family. In addition to this, very few women could read and write, and therefore, they did not have the means to express themselves, or to start organized actions.

With the rise of equality of all men and democracy by the end of the eighteenth century, the cause of women started, particularly in the year 1792 when the first feminist publication was written by Mary Wollestonecraft, a British woman who was devoted to the cause of liberating women from their chains. The famous publication was known as the vindication of the rights of women. According to this publication which is the first organized step towards womens liberation, the aim of womens movements would be to eliminate the sexual discrimination against women on the political, economic and social level, so that women would have equal rights to men (Grolier, 1).

Grolier Electronic Publishing shows that the first problem women faced was suffrage. While men were able to vote and to participate in the political life, women were not. Therefore, the efforts were united and aimed at winning the right to vote. Consequently, in 1903, the women social and political union (WSPU) was established with its main goal as winning the right of suffrage for women. The Union was under the leadership of Emmiline Panhurst who was able to lead her fellow women in Britain in demonstrations that protested against the inequality of men. The British Public opinion was divided and many women were arrested and send to jail for their participation in the demonstration (1).

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In 1914, the World War I broke out, and the struggle by the Union stopped until the war was over. However, the Union and other womens organizations supported the government in its war, particularly by participating in voluntary jobs and other efforts that enabled Britain to stand on its feet until the war was over. Once the war was over, the government returned the favor by granting the British women the right to vote in 1918, but the voting age for women was 30 whereas for men it was 21. The vote ages for both sex were not made equal until in 1928. Despite this great achievement, the struggle for equality and liberation did not stop (Grolier, 1).
An article in Grolier state: at the same time that the British women were struggling for their freedom, the American women were also on the same road towards liberty. The first organized movement for womens cause in the US started in 1848, though it was among the voices calling for antislavery rather than for the liberation of women. In 1850, the first convention for womens rights was held and it was known as the National Womens Rights Convention. Thirteen years later, the Womens National Loyal League was established under the leadership of Susan B. Antony who became famous for the proposal she wrote to the Congress in 1878, calling for the amendment for the constitution so that women could vote. This famous letter was supported by huge demonstrations and protests by men and women until the amendment was ratified as the 19th Amendment. This Amendment, however, did not become law until 1920. Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote in 1890 (1).

During the period between the World War I and World War II, women in many countries in the world, specially in Europe gained the right to vote. However, the efforts of women movements calmed down after that, until in 1945, the United Nations charter recognized the equality of men and women in rights. This was followed in 1952 by the first convention to be held for the political rights of women by the General Assembly (Grolier, 1).

Janet Z. Giele said that apart from the UN recognition of womens right and equality, not much was achieve between the 1920s and the 1960s. The womens movements in most countries of the world were still pleased with the right to vote which they were granted. However, the 1960s witnessed a new rise for the womens movements due to the increasing number of educated women who became aware of the need to improve their status. Women in the 1960s wanted to change their personal and social roles, particularly after finding out that announcing equality to men was something, while practicing it was something else. Consequently, the goals of the womens movements would then aim at overcoming the sexual discrimination against women in all social, economic, and political fields (388).

The 1970s witnessed more efforts for the recognition of the rights of women worldwide. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed more efforts towards more specific goals on all levels, particularly issues such as equality in pay, compensation and working conditions. In addition, the prevention of sexual harassment and the rights of battered women became major issues which the womens movements in the world stressed and were able to achieve significant legal and legislative gains in these domains (Grolier, 2).

In the US, the most important legal gains for the womens movements were made during the 1960s and 1970s. Five major achievements were scored by these movements. The first was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which required from employers to pay male and female employees doing the same job equally. In 1964, the Civil rights Act was issued which prohibited sexual as well as other forms of discrimination in all levels of life. In 1972, the Education Amendments were issued preventing sexual discrimination in schools. Finally, the year 1975 witnessed the birth of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibited banks, companies and other financial and commercial institutions from sexual discrimination against women when granting credit or loans (Giele, 388).

These achievements were made in the 1960s and 1970s but the womens movements had to work harder in the coming two decades to make sure that these rules were implemented fairly.

The Lebanese women, unlike most women in Europe and US, had to go through double struggle. First, they had to struggle for their rights as women who wanted equality and recognition of their rights, and second, they had to struggle for survival during a war which lasted for two decades, paralyzing the country and endangering its population.

In October 1987, a conference was held by the League of Arab States and the support of the UNESCO in Paris to throw light on the conditions of the Lebanese women. Maha Samara insisted on the necessity of this conference because many Lebanese women were playing the role of mother and father, especially that many husbands and other male supporters of the Lebanese families were killed at war. In addition to these burdens, those women had to face the unfair status they lived in (10).

The Paris Conference recognized the rights of the Lebanese women, and also recognized the importance of the role that the Lebanese woman was playing in her society and family. The recommendations of the conference encouraged the Lebanese woman to keep playing her role in promoting peace, facing discrimination and segregation, and by effectively promoting the national culture rather than the religious confessional culture (Samara, 11).
Janet Z. Giele insisted on the massive impact of the womens movements in the world, not only on the lives of women in the world, but also on their societies and even political systems. The major influence of these movements is seen in the participation of women in the paid labor force. For example, in the US in 1940, the percentage of employed women was only 28% but it grew with the growth of womens movements until in 1989 it reached 57%. Besides, most countries of the world protect the right to work for all women, including mothers with young children (389).

Further more, many women have reached high positions in political, economic, and social areas, and some have even become leaders of their countries such as Margaret Thatcher of Britain, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, and Corazon Aquino of Philippines. Moreover, changes and attitudes towards women and against sexual discrimination have been witnessed in most countries of the world. For example, more fathers are sharing their wives the house work, including child rearing, and in addition to this, sexism is disappearing in language as terms such as fire man and chairman are being replaced by neutral terms such as fire fighter and chairperson (Giele, 390).

The achievements so far made by the womens movements in the world have dramatically changed the status of women in many countries of the world. However, a long struggle is still to come. In many countries of the world, especially the underdeveloped countries, women still lack the most basic rights of human beings.

Furthermore, even in the countries where the most advancements have been made, efforts are still needed because real equality has not yet been attained. For example, women have been used as subjects of sex and attraction, and this situation has not changed. Advertising agencies and marketing methods still regard the sexuality of females on TV, posters and other methods, to be the best selling because they keep the image in the mind of the viewer (Densemore, 203-204).

Moreover, Dana Densemore affirm that judging women according to their physical characteristics rather than their mental or intellectual abilities is still everywhere. The more beautiful and physically attractive a women is, the more is welcomed and respected without much regard to her intellect, mental abilities, beliefs or attitudes (206).

Above all, working women still suffer from what is know as the double-burden. Working women have to work as they part of the labor force, and when they return home to finish a long task of house work starting with washing, cleaning, dusting, laundry, sewing, mending, shopping, cooking, child-caring and many others. Usually husbands participate in very few of these activities if they do at all, and the woman is left to finish them all without regard to her need for rest (Tax, 230).

In conclusion, the history of the womens movements is a strong example on the struggle of women for centuries in their attempts to attain their freedom, humanity and equality. The struggle has not yet come to an end, and the road to success is still very long and full of challenge. Nevertheless, women will always have the hope and faith in what they are doing, because they know it is right. After all, human equality is the most basic right of all human beings, males and females.
Densemore, Dana. On The Temptation to Be a Beautiful Object. In
Salper, Roberta ed. Female Liberation. New York: Alfred Knopf,

Giele, Janet Z. Womens Movements. Colliers Encyclopedia. 1992.

Vol. 23.: 388-90.

Samara, Maha. Lebanese Women Witness to War. Al-Raida, November 1,
1987, vol. 8.: 9-11.

Tax, Meredith. Woman & Her Mind: The Story of Daily Life. In Salper,
Roberta ed. Female Liberation. New York: Alfred knof, 1972.

———-. Womens Rights Movements. Grolier Electronic Publishing,
Inc., 1995: 1-2.

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