Social Welfare Movements Associated with Women

Social Welfare Movements Associated with Women


Over the past years, women have remained an oppressed population not only in the United States but also all over the world. Approximately half of the population in the world is made up of women (Graff, Kapur & Walters, 2019). However, their experiences, voices, and contributions are undervalued and overlooked. Most women are underrepresented in political halls and economic power, yet overrepresented in aspects such as poverty. In the United States, over half of the women (42%) claim to have experienced discrimination based on their gender (Millward & Takhar, 2019). Their path to progress has been blocked by a lack of economic and political opportunities, gender-based violence, and laws that hold them to different standards. The low status and inequality towards women have led to significant social, political, and economic outcomes. It has limited communities’ ability to boost countries’ economies, and resolve conflicts (Vachhani & Pullen, 2019).  To make sure every society benefit, women have to be equally incorporated in all spheres of society. The key focus of this paper is to provide an outline of the history of policies and social welfare movements associated with women, their current welfare state, social needs, and what social workers can do to help promote social justice for women.

History of Policy and Social Welfare

The history of all relevant policies and social welfare movements connected to women’s population is full of controversies regarding gender equality. Since the 1700s, women have been striving to get equal rights and stop discrimination related to gender (Catt & Shuler, 2020). American women have consistently stood up for equality all over the history of the country, beginning with Abigail Adams’ request to her husband to suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to the emergence of the feminist movement and Kamal Harris being the first female vice president by a major political party.

Women’s fight for critical social policies started on March 31, 1776, when Abigail Adams made a plea to the Continental Congress and her husband to remember women and be more favorable and generous to them (Webster, Chen & Beardsley, 2019). In the letter, asked that men should not be provided unlimited power as it would make them tyrants. She also warned that if attention and care is not granted to women, a rebellion would be formed as women were unwilling to hold themselves bound to laws in which they had no representation and voice. In 1789, there was the ratification of the U.S constitution. Men and women can be seen as those beings because the words “persons,” “people,” and “electors” are used to refer to them. Mississippi was the first state to enable women the right of owning properties in 1839.

In 1848, women in the U.S. held their first convention in New York known as the Seneca Falls Convention. Approximately 300 individuals attended the convention including organizers Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Candy Stanton (Buhle, 2023). The Declaration of Sentiments, signed by 58 women and 32 men, Frederick Douglass included, served as the impetus for decades of action that ultimately resulted in the 19th Amendment, that provided women the privilege of voting. This was a plea to help in ending discrimination against women in every societal sphere. In 1869, Wyoming’s legislature passed the first Suffrage law in the U.S. The suffrage law granted women the right to hold office and vote. Decades later, Wyoming became the initial state to grant women the voting rights.

A social movement that was formed during the 1860s is the Suffrage Movement. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was started by and it served as the movement’s central organizing body. Other movements including, the National Association of Colored Women and National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, were created to be included in the movement’s activities (Buhle, 2023). These nationwide women’s organizations accepted women of all socioeconomic classes. The most widely recognized national women’s organization at that moment was the Woman’s Christian Temperance Motion, that fought for the ban of alcohol. With a national abolition of alcohol in 1919, their effort was successful.

A critical policy made in 1920 was the ratification of the 19th Amendment. It said that a citizen’s right to vote cannot be restricted or denied on the basis of their gender identity by the federal government or by any state. The “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” got its name as a result of Susan B. Anthony’s support for women’s suffrage. To reach this point, women’s suffrage activists had to persevere through innumerable hardships and humiliations (Vachhani & Pullen, 2019). Besides having their voices heard, establishing, pleading, traveling, parading, and raising funds, others also had to put up with assault, confinement, and starvation to support the movements activities. That privilege was ultimately protected when Tennessee’s state administration agreed to approve the 19th Amendment.

During the progressive era, leaderships in different political and social movements was open for evry women. As progressive reformers, they wanted to bring to an end the endless political corruption, increase the intervention of government to protect women, and improve their lives (Catt & Shuler, 2020). Suffrage activism was part of the Revolutionary Era’s surge of change. Women were prohibited from taking part in civic political activities by previous generations, but by the end of the 19th century, society was starting to support female participation. Progressives frequently maintained that women’s political activism supplemented their traditional duties as spouses, mothers, carers, and upholders of morality.

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act is passed as a legislation policy by President John F. Kennedy, outlawing wage prejudice based on sex for workers who do the same job as each other. The following year, the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII is passed, outlawing prejudice in the workplace based on color, nationality, conviction, racial or cultural background, or sex (Buhle, 2023). A social movement known as the National Organization for Women (NOW) was created in 1966 by Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique’s author. The social movement was a grassroots activism promoting feminist ideals, and fighting to eliminate discrimination, promote societal change, and protect and achieve women’s equal rights. In the well-known Roe v. Wade conclusion, the U.S. Supreme Court apprehended 7–2 in 1973 that a woman’s right under the Constitution to an abortion is guaranteed. In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned the ruling. In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act, a component of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed into law by President Bill Clinton. It provided funding for strategies that contribute to people experiencing rape cases, domestic violence, sexual harassment, pestering, and other forms of violence that are gender-based.

Present-Day Policy and Welfare State

Women gaining more rights have been the most significant step supporting women’s status in United States many years after the passing of the 19th Amendment. Even though many Americans believe there has been progress over the past 10 decades years. Most Americans say the nation has not progressed in giving women the equal opportunities as men. Since entering office, the Biden-Harris administration has unveiled and begun to put into practice several new policies and tactics to advance gender parity globally and to create the conditions necessary for women to have a voice and power in their homes, companies, groups, and society as a whole (Buhle, 2023). The past policies have also helped women in many ways including, a significant percentage increase of women in top executive branch positions and unprecedented funding to advance equality among men. Women also have the power to hold positions and become leaders.

Even though women have gained significant rights, they still have many needs. Sexual harassment is a major obstacle to women achieving equal rights. There is also inadequate equal legal protection for women and a disparity in societal standards for women (Webster, Chen & Beardsley, 2019). Besides, there is the underrepresentation of women in roles of authority important barrier to gender equality. Social workers must collaborate with and advocate for their clients, as stated in the NASW Code of Ethics. Clients include women facing different issues in society (Millward & Takhar, 2019). Social workers can help women by advocating for and implementing policies that advance social justice. In the realm of policy, this means giving women the tools they need to speak up for change both privately and publicly. Social workers can join women’s groups, work together with local communities, or independently help women achieve social justice. To effect change in the society, they can appeal political leaders or create alliances positioned on particular women’s problems.


In the last several years, women’s status and rights in the U.S. have undergone a significant transformation, with more rights, policies and women now working outside the home for pay than in the past years. Despite its flaws, throughout the following century, the Nineteenth Amendment assisted women in assuming a role concerning public affairs that would have been difficult to fathom without it. Women progressively narrowed the gender gap in participation in elections, and since 1984, women have consistently outperformed males in presidential election years. There are more women in universities than there are men, and they are more successful socially and culturally. Social policies and welfare over the past years have significantly played a critical role in facilitating these changes. However, much has to be done in ensuring equality for women has been achieved.























Buhle, M. J. (2023). Women and American Socialism, 1870-1920. University of Illinois Press.

Catt, C. C., & Shuler, N. R. (2020). Woman suffrage and politics: The inner story of the suffrage movement. New York: Courier Dover Publications.

Graff, A., Kapur, R., & Walters, S. D. (2019). Introduction: Gender and the rise of the global right. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society44(3), 541-560.

Millward, P., & Takhar, S. (2019). Social movements, collective action, and activism. Sociology53(3), NP1-NP12.

Vachhani, S. J., & Pullen, A. (2019). Ethics, politics and feminist organizing: Writing feminist infra politics and affective solidarity into everyday sexism. Human Relations72(1), 23-47.

Webster, K., Chen, C., & Beardsley, K. (2019). Conflict, peace, and the evolution of women’s empowerment. International Organization73(2), 255-289.doi:10.1017/S0020818319000055




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