After a historic number of women were elected to public office this week, including at least 35 newly-elected to the House of Representatives—joining 65 already serving—I decided to look back on some of the advancements for women’s rights since I was born.
When I was five, the FDA approved birth control pills, and what surprised me in learning this was that nineteen years earlier, it was illegal to send information through the mail because that was considered to be obscene.
President Kennedy established the “President’s Commission on the Status of Women,” which recommended affordable day care, paid maternity leave, and fair hiring. I think we still have a long way to go on these issues.
Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for women to be paid less than men for the same job, and the Supreme Court ruled, in 1965, that contraception was now legal between married couples.
Employment ads by sex were no longer permitted, and the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress when I was a junior in high school, but it still has never been ratified by enough states.
In 1971, unmarried individuals were permitted to use contraceptives, discrimination in schools based upon sex was banned in 1972, and women were given the right to a safe and legal abortion in 1973.
Women could no longer be discriminated against for being pregnant, the Supreme Court decided that sexual harassment at work is illegal, and the first woman was elected to that court in 1982.
No longer are women banned from serving in combat, and just two years ago, woman were permitted to serve in any job in the armed services.
We have come a long way, but we still have not had a woman elected to the presidency. I eagerly await that day. I hope it comes years before our little two-year old sweetie can run for office.