What was the role of women in the 19th century economy?i need to discuss about different issue such as 'demand for equal wage', prostitution,etc.

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Women in the 19th century were starting to gain a unified feeling of independence and individuality. In history, women were always of vital importance to culture, since they were sources of children and also took care of household work and farm labor. While historically women had fewer rights than men, they were also indispensable to society and so patriarchies could not simply dismiss them.

At this time, in the fledgling United States which was still working towards its independence, most women were too busy helping their families survive to worry about personal rights. However, it was at this time in the U.S. that women began working outside the home in great numbers, mostly in mills and textile factories; while they were paid for their work, they had no benefits or protection against industrial accidents.

In England, women were still considered pure creatures to be protected and loved, while still inferior and prone to fits and hysterics. They were considered mothers and wives, and while in many rich families the women were the "power behind the throne," they were never considered of importance in public society and government -- with the exception of the Royal Family, where Queens and Princesses were vital parts of the governmental structure.

The biggest concession made in England towards equal pay for women was the Equity Law, which made women citizens with the same legal rights as men up to a certain point. While they could own property and be equally represented in legal cases, they were still paid less than men. Prostitution was legal but frowned upon; boarding houses tolerated it for single women on their own and it was an enormous trade at the time. Some historians estimate as many as 50,000 prostitutes in London, out of 2 million people.

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