Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide, and formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the nineteenth century and feminist movement during the 20th century. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behavior, whereas in others they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favor of men and boys.
Issues commonly associated with notions of women's rights include, though are not limited to, the right: to bodily integrity and autonomy; to be free from sexual violence; to vote; to hold public office; to enter into legal contracts; to have equal rights in family law; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to have reproductive rights; to own property; to education.
See also: Legal rights of women in history and Timeline of women's rights (other than voting)
Women in ancient Sumer could buy, own, sell, and inherit property. They could engage in commerce, and testify in court as witnesses. Nonetheless, their husbands could divorce them for mild infractions, and a divorced husband could easily remarry another woman, provided that his first wife had borne him no offspring. Female deities, such as Inanna, were widely worshipped.:182 The Akkadian poetess Enheduanna, the priestess of Inanna and daughter of Sargon, is the earliest known poet whose name has been recorded.Old Babylonian law codes permitted a husband to divorce his wife under any circumstances,:140 but doing so required him to return all of her property and sometimes pay her a fine.:140 Most law codes forbade a woman to request her husband for a divorce and enforced the same penalties on a woman asking for divorce as on a woman caught in the act of adultery;:140 some Babylonian and Assyrian laws, however, afforded women the same right to divorce as men, requiring them to pay exactly the same fine.:140 The majority of East Semitic deities were male.:179
Main article: Women in ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt women enjoyed the same rights under the law as a men, however rightful entitlements depended upon social class. Landed property descended in the female line from mother to daughter, and women were entitled to administer their own property. Women in ancient Egypt could buy, sell, be a partner in legal contracts, be executor in wills and witness to legal documents, bring court action, and adopt children.
Main article: Women in India
Women during the early Vedic period enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life. Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period. Rigvedic verses suggest that women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their own husbands in a practice called swayamvar or live-in relationship called Gandharva marriage.
Further information: Women in Greece
Although most women lacked political and equal rights in the city states of ancient Greece, they enjoyed a certain freedom of movement until the Archaic age. Records also exist of women in ancient Delphi, Gortyn, Thessaly, Megara and Sparta owning land, the most prestigious form of private property at the time. However, after the Archaic age, legislators began to enact laws enforcing gender segregation, resulting in decreased rights for women.
Women in Classical Athens had no legal personhood and were assumed to be part of the oikos headed by the male kyrios. Until marriage, women were under the guardianship of their father or other male relative. Once married, the husband became a woman's kyrios. As women were barred from conducting legal proceedings, the kyrios would do so on their behalf. Athenian women could only acquire rights over property through gifts, dowry and inheritance, though her kyrios had the right to dispose of a woman's property. Athenian women could only enter into a contract worth less than the value of a "medimnos of barley" (a measure of grain), allowing women to engage in petty trading. Women were excluded from ancient Athenian democracy, both in principle and in practice. Slaves could become Athenian citizens after being freed, but no woman ever acquired citizenship in ancient Athens. In classical Athens women were also barred from becoming poets, scholars, politicians, or artists. During the Hellenistic period in Athens, the philosopher Aristotle thought that women would bring disorder and evil, therefore it was best to keep women separate from the rest of the society. This separation would entail living in a room called a gynaikeion, while looking after the duties in the home and having very little exposure with the male world. This was also to ensure that wives only had legitimate children from their husbands. Athenian women received little education, except home tutorship for basic skills such as spin, weave, cook and some knowledge of money.
Although Spartan women were formally excluded from military and political life they enjoyed considerable status as mothers of Spartan warriors. As men engaged in military activity, women took responsibility for running estates. Following protracted warfare in the 4th century BC Spartan women owned approximately between 35% and 40% of all Spartan land and property. By the Hellenistic Period, some of the wealthiest Spartans were women. Spartan women controlled their own properties, as well as the properties of male relatives who were away with the army. Girls as well as boys received an education. But despite relatively greater freedom of movement for Spartan women, their role in politics was just as the same as Athenian women.
Plato acknowledged that extending civil and political rights to women would substantively alter the nature of the household and the state.Aristotle, who had been taught by Plato, denied that women were slaves or subject to property, arguing that "nature has distinguished between the female and the slave", but he considered wives to be "bought". He argued that women's main economic activity is that of safeguarding the household property created by men. According to Aristotle the labour of women added no value because "the art of household management is not identical with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material which the other provides". Contrary to these views, the Stoic philosophers argued for equality of the sexes, sexual inequality being in their view contrary to the laws of nature. In doing so, they followed the Cynics, who argued that men and women should wear the same clothing and receive the same kind of education. They also saw marriage as a moral companionship between equals rather than a biological or social necessity, and practiced these views in their lives as well as their teachings. The Stoics adopted the views of the Cynics and added them to their own theories of human nature, thus putting their sexual egalitarianism on a strong philosophical basis.
Further information: Women in ancient Rome
Roman law, similar to Athenian law, was created by men in favor of men. Women had no public voice, and no public role which only improved after the 1st century to the 6th century BCE. Freeborn women of ancient Rome were citizens who enjoyed legal privileges and protections that did not extend to non-citizens or slaves. Roman society, however, was patriarchal, and women could not vote, hold public office, or serve in the military. Women of the upper classes exercised political influence through marriage and motherhood. During the Roman Republic, the mother of the Gracchus brothers and of Julius Caesar were noted as exemplary women who advanced the career of their sons. During the Imperial period, women of the emperor's family could acquire considerable political power, and were regularly depicted in official art and on coinage.
The central core of the Roman society was the pater familias or the male head of the household who exercised his authority over all his children, servants, and wife. Girls had equal inheritance rights with boys if their father died without leaving a will. Similar to Athenian women, Roman women had a guardian or as it was called "tutor" who managed and oversaw all her activity. This tutelage had limited female activity but by first century to sixth century BCE, tutelage became very relaxed and women were accepted to participate in more public roles such as owning or managing property and or acting as municipal patrons for gladiator games and other entertainment activities Childbearing was encouraged by the state. By 27–14 BCE the ius trium liberorum
Respectable Athenian women were expected to involve themselves in domestic tasks such as washing clothes (left); in reality, many worked (right).
Women Deserve the Same Rights as Men Essay
1288 Words6 Pages
Women Deserve the Same Rights as Men
From the beginning of time, females have played a powerful role in the shaping of this world. They have stood by idly and watched as this country moved on without them, and yet they have demanded equal rights as the nation rolls along. Through the years the common belief has been that women could not perform as well as men in anything, but over the years that belief has been proven wrong time and time again. So as time marches on, women have clawed and fought their way up the ladder to gain much needed equal respect from the opposite sex. However, after many years of pain and suffering, the battle for equal rights has not yet been won. Since women have fought for a long time and proven…show more content…
Truth?s attitudes, towards her equality standards to men, are very similar to the struggles that are faced by women today, trying to compete in a society that is believed to give the males all the advantages.
It is almost strange that here in the same country where women are treated nearly as second class citizens, the United States Declaration of Independence states that ?All men are created equal.? If this is so, then, why is there an imbalance in the equality level between men and women? Why have women been downgraded, and in some places still are downgraded, as second-class citizens? How can women who have created the great men and in some cases great women, be considered on the lower level of the battle for equality? Adrienne Rich states in her essay, ?What Does a Woman Need to Know,? exactly what she feels is important in women gaining equality in society, as well as, what is needed for a woman to have respect for herself. She states:
She needs a knowledge of her own history?creative genius of women in
the past--the skills and crafts and techniques and visions possessed by
women in other times and cultures, and how they have been rendered
anonymous, censored, interrupted, devalued. (66)
In her words, Rich feels that in order to succeed and gain respect and equality today, as well