Women's Rights (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.
The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and for the same legal rights as men. Though the vote was secured for women by the NINETEENTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, most of the gains women have made in achieving legal equality and ending gender discrimination have come since the 1960s. CIVIL RIGHTS legislation of that era was primarily focused on ensuring that African Americans and other racial minorities secured EQUAL PROTECTION of the laws. However, the inclusion of sex as a protected category under the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e et seq.) gave women a powerful legal tool to end SEX DISCRIMINATION and to erase cultural stereotypes about females.
The modern women's rights movement began in the 1960s and gained momentum with the development of the scholarly field of FEMINIST JURISPRUDENCE in the 1970s. The quest for women's rights has led to legal challenges in the areas of employment, domestic relations, reproductive rights, education, and CRIMINAL LAW. Although the women's rights movement failed to secure ratification of the EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (ERA), the courts have generally been receptive to claims that...
(The entire section is 3621 words.)
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