Women rights in 1787 and today’s rights

Published 06 Jul 2017

What is a right? A right is a legal or moral entitlement to do or not to do something. They are rules placed to protect individuals or groups for example if one has a right to live another person has no right to terminate his/her life. In the earlier days rights were unknown and it depended much on the position one held in the society. During and before the 18th Century, men had more rights than women because women were regarded as lesser beings. Male dominance was such that women did not have any say in the society, their rightful place was in the kitchen or at home.

Women were so much affected in 1787, as most of their rights were not included in the constitution. For example women had no control over property hence they did not own anything but today women own properties like houses, cars and even land. Men “owned the women” and divorce was impossible during the old days and this meant that women had to “persevere” in their marriages. Today all that has changed and women have almost if not more equal rights than their male counterparts including the right to divorce when they so wish. (Schuler, M.1995).

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1787 went down in the women’s rights calendar as the year when women in all American States lost their voting rights with the exception of New Jersey. This was done when the US Constitutional Convention placed the voting qualifications at the hands of the various states. However the women in New Jersey eventually lost their voting rights in 1807. (Mark C & John G 2003)

From this period henceforth until 1920, the women were not allowed to vote. Through agitation, civil disobedience, protest marches and other forms advocacy, the women finally were liberated and could now vote after a radical change in the constitution. This was achieved through the 19th amendment of the U.S constitution in 1920, which allowed the women to vote. Many of the women who labored tirelessly for the changes way back in the early 19th century, never even lived to enjoy this fundamental right that today’s women enjoy. (Mark C & John G 2003)

The possession of wives by men was because the constitution had given them the right to control any property that was in their control. Women had very little chances in the nation building because most of their rights were not passed in the constitution, during 1787 the women were homemakers and their work was mainly to take care of the children. (Mark C & John G 2003)

But today the women have agitated for their rights through the amendments of the constitution and due to this amendments, they have participated in politics and the society, for example through voting they have acquired powers to take care of important issues concerning women and some of the women have now rights to participate in politics. (Schuler, M.1995). Hillary Clinton is able to run for the most powerful seat in the U.S, thanks for the various amendments to the constitution that have taken place over the years.

Knowing their rights has given them the freedom just like men of speech that allows them to comment on anything about the government and its governance. This is because of the right of freedom of speech that is guaranteed unlike in the past when they were afraid to voice their opinion on matters of national importance leave alone run for any public office. (Schuler, M.1995).

In 1787, women were supposed to be submissive to their husbands and all they were to do was to obey them. The men controlled everything in their possession making them breadwinners of their families. Women did not work and this resulted into a bigger percentage of poor women and that led to the increase of hunger and diseases especially for the widows. Due to all this problems that women encountered today the “Global call to action against poverty”(GCAD) has come up with International Women’s Day (Askin, D.2000) to call for gender equality to end poverty and improvement in maternal health care for all women as their fundamental right. (Schuler, M.1995).

In 1787,some women were raped and this left single mothers to play a major role of instilling discipline to their children because the law had denied the women right to sue the rapists. (Brownmiller, S.1975). Due to these unjust laws many women ended up loathing men and seeking solace in lesbianism. Today the rape cases are handled with much more seriousness and the rapists are severely punished including being handed life sentences. Single women were also denied the right to the access of contraceptives as it was only for married women and this caused a lot of unorthodox abortions methods amongst the young teenagers who got pregnant before marriage.

After comparing different rights of women in 1787 and today this page tells us about the women’s contribution and how it has been recognized. In 1996 the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) located in Washington was formed to promote the women’s rights history through special events and educational materials. (Askin, D.K2000)

The exhibitions help to celebrate women’s role especially the role of women who have played some of the social reforms of history. By holding these events, it inspires young women to pursue their dreams and know their rights and not be intimidated by their male counterparts.

Through this body it has also helped some of the women who are still being denied their constitutional rights to recover from their trauma. (Schuler, M.1995).

Women have come a long way and by 1920 their struggle for women rights began and by the 19th Constitutional Amendment of United States, women were given more rights that led to the creation of the National Women’s hall of fame in 1969.

Helen S Hawkins in 1930-1989 was a producer of humanity programs whose mind and work improved the lives of many women in the community. (Harrison. E.1979) Alongside Helen, the hall of fame has also recognized Alice and Hilary Clinton. (Askin, D.K.2000) The hall fame appreciates women who have contributed to the society and freedom of women. Apart from the hall of fame women’s history museum has built with a mission to inspire the future generations and the women’s contribution to the society. (Harrison, C.E.1979)


The rights have changed since 1787 and more women are playing leading roles in politics such as Hilary Clinton who is now vying for the presidency in the United States, which is due to the constitutional amendment of women rights to vote. The creation of United Nations in October 24th 1945 has helped to stop violence against women by their male counterparts. Right of speech has allowed women to express how they feel about some rights that affect them and the way they should be implemented.


  • Askin, Kelly D.& Dorean M. Koenig (2000) Women and International Human Rights Law: New York
  • Brownmiller, Susan (1975). Against Our Will: Women and Rape
  • Harrison Cynthia Ellen (1979): Women in American History: Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO Press.
  • Mark C carnes and John Garraty (2003): The American Nation: A History of the United States to 1877; 11th ed., Longman.
  • Schuler, Margaret (1995): From Basic Needs to Basic Rights: Women’s Claim to Human Rights. Washington.
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