All Women's Talk

8 Rights Women Didn't Have a Century Ago ...

By Alison

Women's rights are something we take for granted these days. Because it was all a long time ago that the suffragettes fought for the right to vote, wasn't it? However, women's rights still depend very much on where they live, and even some of the rights we take for granted were relatively recently achieved. Here are some of the women's rights that have been accomplished over the last 100 years or so …

1 Vote

The right to vote has been one of the most important of all the women's rights achieved over the last century. We might wonder at times whether it's even worth voting, but let's not forget that not so many generations back, women didn't even have the option of choosing who would govern them. That's one of the reasons why it's so important to keep informed about candidates and take the time to get out there and vote.

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2 Divorce

It might seem extraordinary that a 'modern' country like Malta has only just permitted divorce. But it's not alone in introducing divorce only relatively recently – Brazil, for example, did so in 1977. Historically, it was often harder for women to obtain a divorce than it was for men. In some places, the fairness between the sexes is still up for debate.

3 Own Bank Account

Do you think that countries like the US and the UK are more enlightened? Well, an American woman needed her husband's permission to open a bank account as recently as the 1960s, and it wasn't until 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act that a British woman could open a bank account in her own name. And as for getting a mortgage on her own … forget it.

4 Equal Pay

The right to receive the same pay for doing the same job as men has been a relatively recent advance in women's rights. In fact, there is evidence that women still don't always earn as much as their male colleagues who are doing exactly the same work. This one is a right for which many women are still fighting, all over the world.

5 Joining the Army

The right to fight on the front line might seem one of the more dubious women's rights achieved in recent years. Yet it could be argued that if we want to be treated equally with men, then we should be prepared to do everything that they do – including risking our lives to fight for our country. Remember, bravery knows no gender.

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6 Stand for Election

If we have the right to vote, then we should have the right to be voted for! Gradually throughout the 20th century, women in various countries were granted the right to stand for election. The first woman MP was elected in the UK in 1919, and the first female Minister in western Europe was appointed in Denmark in 1924. Disappointingly, women are still not adequately represented in the governments and parliaments of most countries.

7 Work

Have you heard that women were once expected to give up work when they got married? In some professions, it was actually not allowed for a married woman to keep on working. Plus we all know how some careers were until relatively recently seen as 'male careers' - and maybe still are.

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8 Religious Office

The issue of women priests continues to be an extremely controversial question in the Church of England, almost 20 years after the first women priests were ordained. The appointment of women bishops will be approved soon. On the flip side, a number of religions welcome women as members of the clergy.

It's thanks to the many brave and tenacious women that fought for women's rights that we can do many of the things that we take for granted today. Can you imagine a world where you needed your husband's permission to open a bank account? There's still a long way to go in many countries. What do you consider the greatest advance in women's rights?

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