Women’s rights movements (Timeline)

How have women’s rights changed over time in the U.S.?

Until 200 years ago, women were regarded as second class citizens, but since 1830s, women started to organise themselves and to fight for equal rights and opportunities. This timeline shows the key events of this development until twenty-first century.


A law was brought out that said if a marriage broke down and the parents separated, children under seven years of age should stay with their mother.


The first women's rights convention takes place in Seneca Falls, New York. After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which defines grievances and sets the agenda for the women's rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.


The first National Women's Rights Convention is held in Worcester Mass

, attracting more than 1,000 participants. National conventions are held yearly (except for 1857) through 1860.


Women can divorce husbands who were cruel to them or husbands who left them.


In May, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton establish the National Woman Suffrage Association. The main objective of this movement is to allow women to vote by changing the constitution.

The American Woman Suffrage Association was formed to fight for voting rights for women by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell in November.

In December of the year, the territory of Wyoming passes the first women's suffrage law. The following year, women begin serving on juries in the territory.


Women take place in court juries.


The National Association of Colored Women is formed, bringing together more than 100 black women's clubs. Leaders in the black women's club movement include Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, and Anna Julia Cooper.


The National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) is established to develop the improvement of wages and working conditions for women


Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth-control clinic in Brooklyn. NY.


Women working conditions improved because of the formation of the Bureau of the Department of Labor.


Mary McLeod Bethune organizes the National Council of Negro Women, a coalition of black women's groups that lobbies against job discrimination, racism, and sexism.


The first lesbian organisation in the United States is founded, called The Daughter of Bilitis.


Birth control pills are approved as medicines


The EEOC rules that sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers are illegal. This ruling is upheld in 1973 by the Supreme Court, opening the way for women to apply for higher-paying jobs hitherto open only to men.


It becomes possible for many women to divorce by mutual consent. The first state to allow this is California.


Sex discrimination in schools is banned by Title IX of the Education Amendments.


The first marital rape law is enacted in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.


It becomes illegal to fire pregnant women if they are willing and able to work.


In January 2013, women are allowed to serve in combat. Before this date the role of women in the army was limited to supporting tasks, such as, nursing, logistic, administration.


This timeline shows that women’s rights have successfully improved in the way that women are now seen as having similar opportunities to men and are encouraged to have freedom of choice in what they do, thanks to the struggle of some remarkable strong women.