In the 1890s, American women emerged as a major force for social reform. Millions joined civic organizations and extended their roles from domestic duties to concerns about their communities and environments. These years, between 1890 and 1920, were a time of many social changes that later became known as the Progressive Era. In this time era, millions of Americans organized associations to come up with solutions to the many problems that society was facing, and many of these problems were staring American women right in the face.
Women began to speak out against the laws that were deliberately set against them. Throughout this time period, women were denied the right to vote in all federal and most state held elections. Women struggled to achieve equality; equality as citizens, equality in the work place, and equality at home. During this time, Americans worked to fight corruption in government, reduce the power of big business, and improve society as a whole.
Just as the Irish wanted good work and the farmers wanted a good banking system, women wanted equality. Women and women's organizations worked for various rights for different groups of people. They not only worked to gain the right to vote, they also worked for political equality and for social reforms.
But how did this all start to happen? It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t a one-person battle. Women wanted the same rights as men already had. But they didn’t just stop there, women played a major role in the rise of the child labor laws, stood up for minorities, and they wanted prostitution to end. Most people who opposed woman suffrage believed that women were less intelligent and less able to make political decisions than men were. Opponents argued that men could represent their wives better than the wives could represent themselves. Also, it was thought by some that if women had the right to a vote, they might use it to gain other rights that could ultimately lead to the end of family life that most were comfortably accustomed to.
Progressivism was not just a single movement, rather it was several different organizations of people trying to accomplish their own goals. Keep in mind, this era was a few decades long, so many things were accomplished over a long period of time. Women exercised what they saw as their rights as citizens to shape public policy and create institutions.
Progressivism generally took two forms: Political and Social reform.What most social reformers found was that they could not rely on people doing the “right” and “moral” thing all the time. If law is going to be used for social reform, who is going to make the law? Politicians. However, politics and politicians were seen as a big part of the problem, not the solution, therefore, Progressives seen that the future for a new America ultimately depended on changing the government and politics.
Women acted through several various organizations during the Progressive Era, such as the Young...