Remembering Women’s Rights on Fourth of July

Remembering Women's Rights on Fourth of July

It’s been 50 years since a woman could first open a credit card.  

And it’s been less than 60 years since married women were guaranteed the right to choose contraception.  

Independence Day offers a moment to reflect on the freedoms we value. It also serves as a reminder that our country’s founding overlooked and denied many folks equality—including women.  

Significant victories and ongoing challenges line the road toward equal rights for women, particularly when it comes to our health. That’s why we must take time to understand how far we’ve come and how far we must go for true independence and equality.  

Women’s Rights and Independence: How Far We’ve Come 

Over the years, key milestones have defined the women’s rights movement; each step forward hard-fought and won. In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention launched the recognized fight for women’s rights in the United States. The Declaration of Sentiments that came out of the convention, signed by 100 women (and men), called for an end to discrimination and affirmed that ALL people are endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

The Women’s Declaration of 1876 echoed these demands for equality and justice for women. Despite being met with open hostility, National Woman’s Suffrage Association members presented this declaration at the country’s 100th birthday celebration. 

The 19th Amendment, signed in 1920, granted women the right to vote and marked a significant step forward in the struggle for gender equality. This paved the way for further women’s rights victories.  

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed to abolish wage disparity based on sex, ensuring women received equal pay for equal work. Just a year later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 solidified women’s rights in the workplace by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 

The push for comprehensive women’s health rights gained momentum in the 1970s with the passage of Title IX in 1972, which aimed to stop sex-based discrimination in schools and education programs. In 1973, the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade recognized a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and legalized abortion nationwide, allowing women more control over their own bodies. That is, until it was overturned in 2022.  

Women’s Health Equity: How Far We Must Go 

Increased research on female-specific conditions and a greater focus on issues like menopause represent important steps forward toward women’s health equity. However, the push for equality remains urgent, particularly when we take a look at women’s health and reproductive rights.  

Disparities in healthcare access, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a right that women relied on for decade. Ongoing legal challenges in reproductive rights create significant boundaries to true health equity. 

Access to abortion contributes to a reduction in poverty, higher rates of college graduation, and stable employment. However, women who live in states with new, restrictive abortion laws face greater health disparities and significant risks to their health.  

Women make up the majority of the U.S. population. Our economic contributions directly impact the overall health of the economy. Control over one’s fertility, for instance, can boost a country’s economic growth and development. However, not only do women today have fewer fertility and reproductive rights. The lack of social support for mothers and families once a child is born exacerbates economic inequalities and declining health outcomes overall.  

The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), introduced in 2021 prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, seeks to address these issues by establishing more protections for abortion rights but continues to lie stagnant in Congress. 

We must also recognize that BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals face compounded discrimination and barriers to accessing healthcare in our country. Women of color, for instance, confront not only gender bias. Systemic racism also affects their economic opportunities, healthcare treatments, and personal safety. Similarly, LGBTQ+ women face greater vulnerability to violence and discrimination, both at work and in healthcare settings.  

Acknowledging these intersections can help us better advocate for policies and solutions that address the experiences and needs of all women.  

The Impact of Women’s Health, Economic, and Decision-Making Power 

Despite these challenges and setbacks, women wield significant power. We control much of our families’ health and finances. Women make 80% of healthcare decisions, and hold the title of “the world’s most powerful consumers.” Where women decide to shop and how we direct our finances speaks volumes about what issues matter most to us and what we choose to support. 

Women can also use their purchasing power to donate to local and national organizations that advocate for women’s reproductive rights and health equity, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Women’s Health Network. There are also many smaller, grassroots organizations that need local support. By supporting companies, nonprofits, and policies that promote women’s rights and health, women can collectively (and more effectively) push for broader societal change. 

The journey toward true equality is ongoing, and every step forward brings us closer to a future where independence applies to everyone, regardless of gender. We must keep moving toward a world where women’s rights are fully recognized and protected. 

About the author
FemmePharma started as a pharmaceutical research and development company more than 20 years ago. We’ve been reinventing women’s healthcare ever since. Please consult your healthcare practitioner to decide which product best meets your needs.

Filed under: Women's Health Equity

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