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women's liberation

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


As early as 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft in Vindication of the Rights of Women had demanded that women should receive the same opportunities as men in education, work and politics, but in the nineteenth century nearly all women were under the control of men. With industrialization they had more opportunities for employment in textile factories, as secretaries (after the invention of the typewriter) and as shop assistants, but most of these jobs were unskilled and poorly paid. The growth of elementary education provided schoolteaching as a respectable occupation for unmarried, middle‐class women. Women gradually gained more legal rights (to property, for example) in the late nineteenth century in Western Europe and access to higher education and the professions, where they formed an extremely small minority. feminist movements concentrated on obtaining the vote for women, an object which had been achieved in most of Western Europe and the US by 1939. The Second World War extended this to many countries where women did not already have the vote: France, Italy, Japan, Belgium and Eastern Europe. Women in Africa eventually received the vote with decolonization . By the 1960s women had the vote almost everywhere, except in some Islamic countries and Switzerland, the last European country to give the vote to women in 1971. In the 1960s there was a second wave of feminist activism which ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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