10 Historical Firsts in Women’s Rights

Can we give some credit where credit is definitely due? There’s good reason for everyone to celebrate these historical firsts for women.

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Women throughout history have never had it easy. Perhaps Canadian feminist and multiple-term mayor of Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, Charlotte Whitton (1896-1975), summed up the situation best:

“Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”

Even the first ever official women’s rights gathering on American soil was born out of two women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, not being allowed the same courtesies as men. In this case, it was at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England. The year was 1840, and leading up to the event delegates had voted to exclude women completely. Stanton and Mott met for the first time in a small designated section of the convention floor where women were unceremoniously corraled and essentially ignored.

Image Source: United States Library of Congress

Jump ahead eight years from that history-changing introduction to the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, where the two advocates were seeing their call for equal rights for women being answered by approximately 200-300 people on July 19th and 20th, 1848.  The Seneca Falls Convention would be the first of its kind in America, where a “Declaration of Sentiments” as drafted by Stanton was read to the crowd. The first day of the rally was open to women only, with the second day allowing the general public to attend. In all, 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration.

Organized in only five days with just word of mouth and an announcement placed in the Seneca County Courier to spread the details, Seneca Falls marked the first small steps for women uniting in the pursuit of fair and equal treatment in America.

Image Source: United States Library of Congress

Civilization could not exist without women. Forget about childbearing – women are the cornerstone of society, compassionate and brave while also disciplinarians and rule breakers, strong when they want to scream and screaming when needed. There is nothing women can’t do (including pee standing up, but that’s neither here nor there).

Yet for time immemorial, they’ve always had to fight harder to get half as far. Nevertheless, they persisted and for that we are all richer.

Here’s a look at some of the most incredible women who made history and blazed a trail we with XX chromosomes, or who identify as female, continue to walk today.

First policewoman: Marie Owens