Equality Rights for Women in Western Democracies
  • Key Terms
Feminism is the belief and aim that women should have the equal political, economic, and social rights as men.
Classical feminists were fighting against genuine violations of women's rights.

  • History
Mary Wollstonecraft – fought against classical liberal view of women

The history of the western feminist movements is divided into three waves. The first wave refers to the movement of the 19th through early 20th centuries which mainly about suffrage, working conditions and education. The second wave which had occurred during 1960s to 1980s mostly dealt with the inequality of laws; include cultural inequalities, and the role of women in society. The third wave (late 1980s to early 2000s) was about continuation of the second wave and a response to the perceived failures.
First wave
First-wave feminism involved a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in Europe, it focused primarily on gaining the right of women's suffrage, the right to be educated, better working conditions and double sexual standards.
Lydia Becker started the Women's Suffrage Journal in 1870.
The fight for women's suffrage represents one of the most fundamental struggles of women, because explicitly denying them representation in the legislature and public governmental bodies gave an unambiguous message of second-class citizenship. No campaign has embedded itself so deeply in popular imagination than that of women's suffrage over the past 250 years.
However it took a long time to work its way up the list of priorities to gradually become the dominant issue. The French Revolution accelerated this, with the assertions of Condorcet and de Gouges, and it was women that marched on Versailles. This reached its climax with the founding of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women (1793) which included suffrage on its agenda, before being suppressed at the end of that year. However, this ensured that the issue was on the European political agenda.
German women were involved in the Vormärz, a prelude to the 1848 revolution. In Italy Clara Maffei, Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso and Ester Martini Currica were politically active in the events leading up to the events of 1848 there. In Britain suffrage emerged in the writings of Wheeler and Thompson in the 1820s, and Reid, Taylor and Anne Knight in the 1840s

Second Wave
in the 1970s new feminist activists took on more political and sexual issues in their writings
Second-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity beginning in the early 1960s and through the late 1980s. Second Wave Feminism has existed continuously since then, and continues to coexist with what some people call Third Wave Feminism. Second wave feminism saw cultural and political inequalities as inextricably linked. The movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their personal lives as deeply politicized, and reflective of a sexist structure of power. If first-wavers focused on absolute rights such as suffrage, second-wavers were largely concerned with other issues of equality, such as the end to discrimination.
1960s' feminism — and its theory and activism — was informed and fueled by the social, cultural, and political climate of that decade. This was a time when there was an increasing entry of women into higher education, the establishment of academic women's studies courses and departments and feminist thinking in many other related fields such as politics, sociology, history and literature, and a time when there was increasing questioning of accepted standards and authority.
It also became increasingly evident, almost from the beginning that the Women's Liberation movement consisted of multiple "feminisms" — due to the diverse origins from which groups had coalesced and intersected, and the complexity and contentiousness of the issues involved. Starting in the 1980s, one of the most vocal critics of the whole movement has been bell hooks,[130] who comments on lack of voice by the most oppressed women, glossing over of race and class as inequalities, and failure to address the issues that divided women
Third Wave
one of important feminists in 1990s
The Third-wave of feminism began in the early 1990s. The movement arose as responses to what young women thought of as perceived failures of the second-wave. It was also a response to the backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second-wave.A post-structuralist interpretation of gender and sexuality is the third wave's ideology. Third wave feminists often focus on "micropolitics", and challenged the second wave's paradigm as to what is, or is not, good for females.
The history of Third Wave feminism predates this and begins in the mid-1980s. Feminist leaders rooted in the second wave like Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Chela Sandoval, Cherríe Moraga, Audre Lorde, Luisa Accati, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many other feminists of color, called for a new subjectivity in feminist voice. They sought to negotiate prominent space within feminist thought for consideration of race related subjectivities. This focus on the intersection between race and gender remained prominent through the Hill-Thomas hearings, but began to shift with the Freedom Ride 1992. This drive to register voters in poor minority communities was surrounded with rhetoric that focused on rallying young feminists. For many, the rallying of the young is the emphasis that has stuck within third wave feminism
  • Relation to liberalism

The idea of Equality Rights for Women is derived from classical liberalism so that feminism is relates to liberalism. Classical feminism was movement against violations of women's rights, but current feminism is about equality as men. Even though philosophy of feminism is left wing like liberal, radical feminists are more like right wing.

  • Current Important Figure and Organization in Europe


EWL (European Women’s Lobby) - Founded in 1990 with 12 national member organisations, the European Women’s Lobby is one of the oldest and best established European-level civil society NGOs

Sabine de Bethune

EWL launches report on Women on Boards in Europe and calls for EU Directive

Sabine de Bethune, the President of the Belgian Senate and the initiator of the Belgian quota law said: ‘If women’s representation at boardroom level of publicly listed companies would solely depend on competencies and qualifications, we wouldn’t be holding this event. Women should not be embarrassed, nor do men have to feel offended by quota legislation. Quotas are a legitimate means to realize a balanced representation of women and men in society.’

  • References
European Women’s Lobby. Retrieved June 2010 from http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?article3208&lang=en

European Women’s Lobby. Posted on 2 March 2012 from http://www.womenlobby.org/spip.php?rubrique43&lang=en

Wiki history from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism