How these six women's protests changed history (2022)

On Saturday, 150,000 people are expected to take to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington. The progressive demonstration is expected to be the largest of inauguration weekend as well as one of the largest in US history, and sister marches will be held in cities across the country and around the world.

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The march follows a long tradition of protests organized by women. Many happened in the US, including the march on Washington in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1978, and the Million Women March, a movement of African American women which took place in Philadelphia in 1997. And Black Lives Matter was spearheaded by three black women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.

Here are six other examples – though there have been many more – of previous demonstrations from around the world, and the impact they had on politics.

Women’s march on Versailles: 5 October 1789

How these six women's protests changed history (1)

Why did it happen?

Tensions were running high in France in 1789 as the political upheaval of the French revolution picked up steam. That summer, protesters had stormed the Bastille. At the same time, supplies of grain were running low thanks to a poor harvest, and the price of bread surged. In protest, a number of Parisian women gathered in the square, then marched on Versailles, where King Louis XVI held court, on 5 October.

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What did it achieve?

Some men joined the women as they made their way to the city, in a crowd which was said to have numbered in the thousands. Eventually, some members of the crowd violently stormed the royal apartments in Versailles to make their demands. Afterward the king agreed to move the royal family to Paris to be closer to the people, and did not return to live in Versailles.

The rest is history.

Women’s suffrage parade in Washington DC: 3 March 1913

How these six women's protests changed history (2)

Why did it happen?

By 1913, the women’s suffrage movement in the US had long been brewing. The women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, where the Declaration of Sentiments was read, occurred decades before in 1848. In those intervening years, there had been some movement at the state level to grant women the right to vote. A number of suffrage parades occurred in the early 1900s as the first mass demonstrations of the suffrage movement. This one, held in Washington DC, was planned for the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson for maximum press attention, according to the Library of Congress.

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What did it achieve?

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Thousands took part in the parade which sought an amendment to the constitution, according to the Atlantic. After the march, at least 100 were hospitalized for injuries inflicted by spectators. The march was part of the years-long movement for women’s suffrage – and more marches followed, including a massive demonstration in New York in 1915.

Women finally were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

Women’s march on Pretoria: 9 August 1956

How these six women's protests changed history (3)

Why did it happen?

To protest against pass laws, which aimed to limit the movement of black people, 20,000 women marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, on 9 August 1956. The significant gathering of women and their leaders delivered petitions against the pass laws being extended to women to the government, though the prime minister was not there to receive them, according to the Mail & Guardian. They then stood in silence for 30 minutes, and later sang a song which included a variation of the phrase “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.

What did it achieve?

Protests against the pass laws took place before the women’s march and continued after, including one which became a massacre after police opened fire on protesters in Sharpeville in 1960. The pass laws were finally repealed in 1986.

The anniversary of the women’s march is now celebrated as National Women’s Day in the country and the month of August is known as Women’s Month. The march was re-enacted in 2006 for the 50th anniversary, according to the BBC. Last October was the 60th anniversary.

Icelandic women’s strike: 24 October 1975

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How these six women's protests changed history (4)

Why did it happen?

Iceland topped the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index again in 2016. But in 1975, women were underpaid and underrepresented in government. So they decided to strike – or as it was then called, the “Woman’s Day Off”, according to the BBC – to demonstrate their importance to society. On 24 October of that year, 25,000 women gathered on the streets of Reykjavik (in a nation of 220,000) and 90% of the female population did not go to work, cook, clean or take care of children.

What did it achieve?

Annadis Rudolfsdottir was aged 11 at the time. She recalled the strike for the Guardian in 2004, calling it “a wake-up call” and a “spur to action”. Vigdis Finnbogadottir became the nation’s first female president five years later, and credits that day with helping her get elected; other landmarks followed. But the pay gap still exists in the country, and there is still room for improvement.

Last October, on the anniversary of the strike, women left work at 2.38pm to symbolize the pay gap, according to the Atlantic.

Protests of abortion ban in Poland: October 2016

How these six women's protests changed history (5)

Why did it happen?

Last fall, in Poland, politicians sought to further restrict abortion access in the country by proposing a ban on abortion in all cases and a prison sentence of up to five years for women who undergo the procedure, with doctors who assist also liable for prison. Introduced by the Stop Abortion coalition, the conservative Law and Justice party, which controls parliament, pushed the plan ahead to be scrutinized by a parliamentary committee on 23 September. The initial boycott was inspired by the 1975 strike in Iceland, according to reports.

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What did it achieve?

Thousands of women, many dressed in black, boycotted their jobs and classes and took part in protest demonstrations on 3 October. About 30,000 had gathered in Warsaw’s Castle Square, chanting. Their efforts resulted in the parliament backtracking and overwhelmingly rejecting the total ban.

Protests resumed later in the month, after the introduction of a new proposal which sought to ban abortion when there is no chance the fetus will survive or in cases of severe abnormalities, and Polish women resolved to keep up pressure over the restrictions. Meanwhile, other protests against the Polish government have ensued.

Argentinian women against violence: October 2016

How these six women's protests changed history (6)

Why did it happen?

In June 2015, women in Argentina took to the streets to protest the killing of 14-year-old Chiara Páez, who was a few weeks pregnant and beaten to death by her boyfriend. Demonstrators rallied around the slogan and hashtag #NiUnaMenos – meaning “not one less”, or no more women lost to gender violence. Hinde Pomeraniec, a journalist who helped to organize the march in Buenos Aires, wrote for the Guardian that a woman dies from gender-based violence every 30 hours in Argentina.

The following October, 16-year-old Lucía Pérez was drugged, raped and tortured in a horrific attack. The prosecutor described the attack as “an act of inhuman sexual aggression”. On 19 October 2016 – “miércoles negro”, or Black Wednesday – tens of thousands gathered in Buenos Aires and cities around South America to protest about the death of Pérez and numerous other harrowing femicides.

What did it achieve?

After the first protest in 2015, the supreme court justice Elena Highton announced there would be a registry of femicides established. Last July, Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, announced a plan to fight violence against women, according to the BBC. But activists are also trying to change the culture which they say underlies such attacks.

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FAQs

What was the result of the women's Strike for Equality? ›

The Women's Strike for Equality was a strike which took place in the United States on August 26, 1970. It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which effectively gave American women the right to vote.

How did the women's rights movement protest? ›

Traditional lobbying and petitioning were a mainstay of NWP members, but these activities were supplemented by other more public actions–including parades, pageants, street speaking, and demonstrations.

How did the women's rights movement changed society? ›

Voting ensures women's reproductive and economic progress. The 19th Amendment helped millions of women move closer to equality in all aspects of American life. Women advocated for job opportunities, fairer wages, education, sex education, and birth control.

Was the women's movement successful? ›

The women's movement was most successful in pushing for gender equality in workplaces and universities. The passage of Title IX in 1972 forbade sex discrimination in any educational program that received federal financial assistance. The amendment had a dramatic affect on leveling the playing field in girl's athletics.

Is women's rights still an issue today? ›

Today, gender bias continues to create huge barriers for many women. Ongoing struggles include ensuring equal economic opportunities, educational equity, and an end to gender-based violence.

What was the outcome of the women's rights movement? ›

But on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Why did the women's movement start? ›

From the founding of the United States, women were almost universally excluded from voting. Only when women began to chafe at this restriction, however, was their exclusion made explicit. The movement for woman suffrage started in the early 19th century during the agitation against slavery.

Who started the protest for women's rights? ›

Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a young mother from upstate New York, and the Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott, about 300 people—most of whom were women—attended the Seneca Falls Convention to outline a direction for the women's rights movement.

How did the women's rights movement start? ›

The 1848 Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention marked the beginning of the women's rights movement in the United States.

What are the major issues taken up by the women's movement over its history? ›

Explanation: The major issues in women's movement: 1)To get freedom from social evils like sati, child marriage, dowry system, gender inequality. 2)Access to education and religious places. 3)To get right to vote and take part in elections. ...

What were 3 major events in the women's rights movement? ›

Here are just some of the many important events that happened as women gained the right to vote.
  • 1848. First Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1849. The First National Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1851. “Ain't I a woman?” ...
  • 1861-1865. The Civil War. ...
  • 1866. Formation of the American Equal Rights Association. ...
  • 1867. ...
  • 1868. ...
  • 1870.
10 Nov 2020

Why did the women's movement fail? ›

In summary, the women's movement did not succeed in finding equality as the movement produced discrimination toward minority groups, created an unforgettable backlash of radical feminism as a whole and caused women to fix the inequalities that the movement created by opening the doors for liberal feminism.

What were the major issues of the women's rights movement? ›

Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women. Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes. Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned.

Why is women's equality important? ›

Gender equality prevents violence against women and girls. It's essential for economic prosperity. Societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier. Gender equality is a human right.

What is the importance of women's rights essay? ›

When women get equal rights, the world can progress together with everyone playing an essential role. If there weren't any women rights, women wouldn't have been allowed to do something as basic as a vote. Further, it is a game-changer for those women who suffer from gender discrimination.

How many genders are there in world? ›

There are many different gender identities, including male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these.

When did women's rights come into effect? ›

Women's Rights and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What happened to the women's rights movement of the 1920s after it earned? ›

What happened to the women's rights movement of the 1920s after it earned the right to vote? It declined because it had achieved its main goal. What can an increase in the power of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s be attributed to?

What did the women's movement accomplish in the 1960s? ›

Gradually, Americans came to accept some of the basic goals of the Sixties feminists: equal pay for equal work, an end to domestic violence, curtailment of severe limits on women in managerial jobs, an end to sexual harassment, and sharing of responsibility for housework and child rearing. .

How did the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s change women's lives? ›

Today the gains of the feminist movement — women's equal access to education, their increased participation in politics and the workplace, their access to abortion and birth control, the existence of resources to aid domestic violence and rape victims, and the legal protection of women's rights — are often taken for ...

Was the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s a success or a failure? ›

Leaving aside the antiwar movement of the 1960s, which I think played an important role in bringing the war to an end, the women's movement was the most successful movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The idea that women should enjoy full equality with men was a startlingly radical idea then.

What was the women's liberation movement trying to accomplish? ›

The women's liberation movement was a collective struggle for equality that was most active during the late 1960s and 1970s. It sought to free women from oppression and male supremacy.

What were the main goals of the women's rights movement? ›

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association. The primary goal of the organization is to achieve voting rights for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.

Why did the women's movement start? ›

From the founding of the United States, women were almost universally excluded from voting. Only when women began to chafe at this restriction, however, was their exclusion made explicit. The movement for woman suffrage started in the early 19th century during the agitation against slavery.

Why did the women's movement fail? ›

In summary, the women's movement did not succeed in finding equality as the movement produced discrimination toward minority groups, created an unforgettable backlash of radical feminism as a whole and caused women to fix the inequalities that the movement created by opening the doors for liberal feminism.

What are the major issues taken up by the women's movement over its history? ›

Explanation: The major issues in women's movement: 1)To get freedom from social evils like sati, child marriage, dowry system, gender inequality. 2)Access to education and religious places. 3)To get right to vote and take part in elections. ...

What were 3 major events in the women's rights movement? ›

Here are just some of the many important events that happened as women gained the right to vote.
  • 1848. First Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1849. The First National Women's Rights Convention. ...
  • 1851. “Ain't I a woman?” ...
  • 1861-1865. The Civil War. ...
  • 1866. Formation of the American Equal Rights Association. ...
  • 1867. ...
  • 1868. ...
  • 1870.
10 Nov 2020

How was the women's movement influenced by the Civil Rights Movement? ›

The civil rights movement influenced the women's liberation movement in four key ways. First, it provided women with a model for success on how a successful movement should organize itself. Second, the civil rights movement broadened the concept of leadership to include women.

How successful was the women's suffrage movement? ›

Women vote today because of the woman suffrage movement, a courageous and persistent political campaign which lasted over 72 years, involved tens of thousands of women and men, and resulted in enfranchising one-half of the citizens of the United States.

What legal and social gains did the women's movement make? ›

What legal and social gains have the women's movement made? They can work in the same jobs as men, they now have the right to abortion, etc.

How did the objectives of women's movement change after independence? ›

After independence, the aim of their movement changed because they realised that though the Constitution had given equal rights both to men and women in practice they were never considered equal.

What do you think was the most positive impact of NOW and other women's organizations? ›

The most important impact of the NOW and other women organizations would be the bill of rights that they established for women. This made society treat everyone equal no matter what gender. This made and set a path for equal wages, equal positions, and most important, equal morals and respect.

Where did the women's movement start? ›

The first attempt to organize a national movement for women's rights occurred in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848.

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