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Afshan Iqbal
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Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights. It’s about acknowledging both the genders equally, none more or less than the other. It’s about assuring that girls and women get the same opportunities that boys and men get in their lives. It’s about learning, unlearning, and relearning the basic concept associated with women’s equality. It’s not about hating men. It’s not about women’s superiority. It’s about accepting women as equals whether in a political, economic, or social context
The first wave of feminism generally refers to the nineteenth and early twentieth century in the western world. This phase revolved largely around gaining basic legal rights for women that today we cannot imagine reality without. Politics and business were completely dominated by powerful men who didn’t consider women capable enough to be a threat. Women were confined to their households and didn’t retain any control there as well. Unmarried women were seen as the property of their fathers, and married women the property of their husbands. They couldn’t file for divorce or be granted custody of their children. Women had no right to vote in elections, calling them second-class citizens was an understatement. For 70 years, the first-wavers would march, lecture, and protest, and face arrest, ridicule, and violence as they fought tooth and nail for the right to vote. As Susan B. Anthony’s biographer Ida Husted Harper would put it, suffrage was the right that, once a woman had won it, “would secure to her all others.” First-wavers fought not only for white women’s suffrage but also for equal opportunities to education and employment, and for the right to own property. And as the movement developed, it began to turn to the question of reproductive rights. In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the US, in defiance of a New York state law that forbade the distribution of contraception. She would later go on to establish the clinic that became Planned Parenthood. In 1920, Congress passed the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. (In theory, it granted the right to women of all races, but in practice, it remained difficult for black women to vote, especially in the South.) The first wave came to a close in around 1920 when some white women (of a certain age and economic background) had been granted the right to vote in the US and the UK.