Legal Policy and Women
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The history of the relationship between women and the law in the United States is a tumultuous one. As members of the thirteen colonies, the founding women had varying rights from one area to the next: some women in New Jersey had the right to vote, while women in Georgia did not even have basic property rights. After forming the United States of America, though, women throughout the nation had relatively uniform legal rights: none. No women in the nation could vote, even those that had the right as residents of New Jersey. Many women throughout the nation did not have rights to property, nor to their wages should they have outside employment. Women were legally invisible, and remained under the guardianship of their fathers, if single, or their husbands, if married. Women did not even have the legal right to have custody of the children they gave birth to. If a man cast out his wife, the children remained with him.
Thankfully, women in today’s society have made significant forward progress.
- While women still do not have a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees them equal rights, there are laws in place to prevent discrimination.
- Men and women are equal under the eyes of the law in the United States, whether it is at the local or federal level.
- Women have the ability to work in any profession they choose; they can serve in the military, though not in direct ground combat, and in the highest government offices.
Legally, women have made innumerable advances, yet there are still countless steps to be taken to ensure that full legal equality is granted, and never taken away.