Women's rights

Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide. In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls in favour of men and boys.[1] Issues commonly associated with notions of women's rights include, though are not limited to, the right: to bodily integrity and autonomy; to vote (suffrage); to hold public office; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to own property; to education; to serve in the military or be conscripted; to enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental and religious rights History of women's rights See also: Legal rights of women in history and Timeline of women's rights (other than voting) China The status of women in China was low, largely due to the custom of foot binding. About 45% of Chinese women had bound feet in the 19th century. For the upper classes, it was almost 100%. In 1912, the Chinese government ordered the cessation of foot-binding. Foot-binding involved alteration of the bone structure so that the feet were only about 4 inches long. The bound feet caused difficulty of movement, thus greatly limiting the activities of women. Due to the social custom that men and women should not be near to one another, the women of China were reluctant to be treated by male doctors of Western Medicine. This resulted in a tremendous need for female doctors of Western Medicine in China. Thus, female medical missionary Dr. Mary H. Fulton (1854-1927)[3] was sent by the Foreign Missions Board of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to found the first medical college for women in China. Known as the Hackett Medical College for Women (???????),[4][5] this College was located in Guangzhou, China, and was enabled by a large donation from Mr. Edward A.K. Hackett (1851-1916) of Indiana, USA. The College was aimed at the spreading of Christianity and modern medicine and the elevation of Chinese women's social status.[6][7] Greece The status of women in ancient Greece varied form city state to city state. Records exist of women in ancient Delphi, Gortyn, Thessaly, Megara and Sparta owning land, the most prestigious form of private property at the time.[8] In ancient Athens, women had no legal personhood and were assumed to be part of the oikos headed by the male kyrios. Until marriage, women were under the guardianship of their father or other male relative, once married the husband became a womans kyrios. As women were barred from conducting legal proceedings, the kyrios would do so on their behalf.[9] Athenian women had limited right to property and therefore were not considered full citizens, as citizenship and the entitlement to civil and political rights was defined in relation to property and the means to life.[10] However, women could acquire rights over property through gifts, dowry and inheritance, though her kyrios had the right to dispose of a womans property.[11] Athenian women could enter into a contract worth less than the value of a medimnos of barley (a measure of grain), allowing women to engage in petty trading.[9] Slaves, like women, were not eligible for full citizenship in ancient Athens, though in rare circumstances they could become citizens if freed. The only permanent barrier to citizenship, and hence full political and civil rights, in ancient Athens was gender. No women ever acquired citizenship in ancient Athens, and therefore women were excluded in principle and practice from ancient Athenian democracy.[12] By contrast, Spartan women enjoyed a status, power, and respect that was unknown in the rest of the classical world. Although Spartan women were formally excluded from military and political life they enjoyed considerable status as mothers of Spartan warriors. As men engaged in military activity, women took responsibility for running estates. Following protracted warfare in the 4th century BC Spartan women owned approximately between 35% and 40% of all Spartan land and property.[13][14] By the Hellenistic Period, some of the wealthiest Spartans were women.[15] They controlled their own properties, as well as the properties of male relatives who were away with the army.[13] Spartan women rarely married before the age of 20, and unlike Athenian women who wore heavy, concealing clothes and were rarely seen outside the house, Spartan women wore short dresses and went where they pleased.[16] Girls as well as boys received an education, and young women as well as young men may have participated in the Gymnopaedia ("Festival of Nude Youths").[13][17] Plato acknowledged that extending civil and political rights to women would substantively alter the nature of the household and the state.[18] Aristotle, who had been taught by Plato, denied that women were slaves or subject to property, arguing that "nature has distinguished between the female and the slave", but he considered wives to be "bought". He argued that women's main economic activity is that of safeguarding the household property created by men. According to Aristotle the labour of women added no value because "the art of household management is not identical with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material which the other provides".[19] Contrary to these views, the Stoic philosophers argued for equality of the sexes, sexual inequality being in their view contrary to the laws of nature.[20] In doing so, they followed the Cynics, who argued that men and women should wear the same clothing and receive the same kind of education.[20] They also saw marriage as a moral companionship between equals rather than a biological or social necessity, and practiced these views in their lives as well as their teachings.[20] The Stoics adopted the views of the Cynics and added them to their own theories of human nature, thus putting their sexual egalitarianism on a strong philosophical basis.[20] Ancient Rome For more details on this topic, see Women in ancient Rome. Fulvia, the wife of Mark Antony, commanded troops during the Roman civil wars and was the first woman whose likeness appeared on Roman coins.[21] Freeborn women of ancient Rome were citizens who enjoyed legal privileges and protections that did not extend to non-citizens or slaves. Roman society, however, was patriarchal, and women could not vote, hold public office, or serve in the military.[22] Women of the upper classes exercised political influence through marriage and motherhood. During the Roman Republic, the mother of the Gracchus brothers and of Julius Caesar were noted as exemplary women who advanced the career of their sons. During the Imperial period, women of the emperor's family could acquire considerable political power, and were regularly depicted in official art and on coinage. Plotina exercised influence on both her husband, the emperor Trajan, and his successor Hadrian. Her letters and petitions on official matters were made available to the public an indication that her views were considered important to popular opinion.[23] A child's citizen status was determined by that of its mother. Both daughters and sons were subject to patria potestas, the power wielded by their father as head of household (paterfamilias). At the height of the Empire (1st2nd centuries), the legal standing of daughters differs little if at all from that of sons.[24] Girls had equal inheritance rights with boys if their father died without leaving a will. In the earliest period of the Roman Republic, a bride passed from her father's control into the "hand" (manus) of her husband. She then became subject to her husband's potestas, though to a lesser degree than their children.[27] This archaic form of manus marriage was largely abandoned by the time of Julius Caesar, when a woman remained under her father's authority by law even when she moved into her husband's home. This arrangement was one of the factors in the independence Roman women enjoyed relative to those of many other ancient cultures and up to the modern period:[28] although she had to answer to her father in legal matters, she was free of his direct scrutiny in her daily life,[29] and her husband had no legal power over her.[30] When her father died, she became legally emancipated (sui iuris).[31] A married woman retained ownership of any property she brought into the marriage.[32] Although it was a point of pride to be a "one-man woman" (univira) who had married only once, there was little stigma attached to divorce, nor to speedy remarriage after the loss of a husband through death or divorce.[33] Under classical Roman law, a husband had no right to abuse his wife physically or compel her to have sex.[34] Wife beating was sufficient grounds for divorce or other legal action against the husband.[35] Because she remained legally a part of her birth family, a Roman woman kept her own family name for life. Children most often took the father's name, but in the Imperial period sometimes made their mother's name part of theirs, or even used it instead.[36] A Roman mother's right to own property and to dispose of it as she saw fit, including setting the terms of her own will, enhanced her influence over her sons even when they were adults.[37] Because of their legal status as citizens and the degree to which they could become emancipated, women could own property, enter contracts, and engage in business.[38] Some acquired and disposed of sizable fortunes, and are recorded in inscriptions as benefactors in funding major public works.[39] Roman women could appear in court and argue cases, though it was customary for them to be represented by a man.[40] They were simultaneously disparaged as too ignorant and weak-minded to practice law, and as too active and influential in legal mattersresulting in an edict that limited women to conducting cases on their own behalf instead of others'.[41] Even after this restriction was put in place, there are numerous examples of women taking informed actions in legal matters, including dictating legal strategy to their male advocates.

stitute, slave, or person of marginalized status (infamis).[44] Childbearing was encouraged by the state: the ius trium liberorum ("legal right of three children") granted symbolic honors and legal privileges to a woman who had given birth to three children, and freed her from any male guardianship.[45] Stoic philosophies influenced the development of Roman law. Stoics of the Imperial era such as Seneca and Musonius Rufus developed theories of just relationships. While not advocating equality in society or under the law, they held that nature gives men and women equal capacity for virtue and equal obligations to act virtuously, and that therefore men and women had an equal need for philosophical education.[20] These philosophical trends among the ruling elite are thought to have helped improve the status of women under the Empire.[46] Rome had no system of state-supported schooling, and education was available only to those who could pay for it. The daughters of senators and knights seem to have regularly received a primary education (for ages 7 to 12).[47] Regardless of gender, few people were educated beyond that level. Girls from a modest background might be schooled in order to help with the family business or to acquire literacy skills that enabled them to work as scribes and secretaries.[48] The woman who achieved the greatest prominence in the ancient world for her learning was Hypatia of Alexandria, who taught advanced courses to young men and advised the Roman prefect of Egypt on politics. Her influence put her into conflict with the bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, who may have been implicated in her violent death in the year 415 at the hands of a Christian mob.[49] Roman law recognized rape as a crime in which the victim bore no guilt.[50] Rape was a capital crime.[51] The right to physical integrity was fundamental to the Roman concept of citizenship, as indicated in Roman legend by the rape of Lucretia by the king's son. After speaking out against the tyranny of the ruling elite, Lucretia killed herself as a political and moral protest. Roman authors saw her self-sacrifice as the catalyst for overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the republic.[52] As a matter of law, rape could be committed only against a citizen in good standing. The rape of a slave could be prosecuted only as damage to her owner's property.[53] Most prostitutes in ancient Rome were slaves, though some slaves were protected from forced prostitution by a clause in their sales contract.[54] A free woman who worked as a prostitute or entertainer lost her social standing and became infamis, "disreputable"; by making her body publicly available, she had in effect surrendered her right to be protected from sexual abuse or physical violence.[55] Attitudes toward rape changed as the empire came under Christian rule. St. Augustine and other Church Fathers interpreted Lucretia's rape as perhaps an admission that she had encouraged the rapist and experienced pleasure.[56] Under Constantine, the first Christian emperor, if a father accused a man of abducting his daughter, but the daughter had given her consent to an elopement, the couple were both subject to being burnt alive. If she had been stitute, slave, or person of marginalized status (infamis).[44] Childbearing was encouraged by the state: the ius trium liberorum ("legal right of three children") granted symbolic honors and legal privileges to a woman who had given birth to three children, and freed her from any male guardianship.[45] Stoic philosophies influenced the development of Roman law. Stoics of the Imperial era such as Seneca and Musonius Rufus developed theories of just relationships. While not advocating equality in society or under the law, they held that nature gives men and women equal capacity for virtue and equal obligations to act virtuously, and that therefore men and women had an equal need for philosophical education.[20] These philosophical trends among the ruling elite are thought to have helped improve the status of women under the Empire.[46] Rome had no system of state-supported schooling, and education was available only to those who could pay for it. The daughters of senators and knights seem to have regularly received a primary education (for ages 7 to 12).[47] Regardless of gender, few people were educated beyond that level. Girls from a modest background might be schooled in order to help with the family business or to acquire literacy skills that enabled them to work as scribes and secretaries.[48] The woman who achieved the greatest prominence in the ancient world for her learning was Hypatia of Alexandria, who taught advanced courses to young men and advised the Roman prefect of Egypt on politics. Her influence put her into conflict with the bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, who may have been implicated in her violent death in the year 415 at the hands of a Christian mob.[49] Roman law recognized rape as a crime in which the victim bore no guilt.[50] Rape was a capital crime.[51] The right to physical integrity was fundamental to the Roman concept of citizenship, as indicated in Roman legend by the rape of Lucretia by the king's son. After speaking out against the tyranny of the ruling elite, Lucretia killed herself as a political and moral protest. Roman authors saw her self-sacrifice as the catalyst for overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the republic.[52] As a matter of law, rape could be committed only against a citizen in good standing. The rape of a slave could be prosecuted only as damage to her owner's property.[53] Most prostitutes in ancient Rome were slaves, though some slaves were protected from forced prostitution by a clause in their sales contract.[54] A free woman who worked as a prostitute or entertainer lost her social standing and became infamis, "disreputable"; by making her body publicly available, she had in effect surrendered her right to be protected from sexual abuse or physical violence.[55] Attitudes toward rape changed as the empire came under Christian rule. St. Augustine and other Church Fathers interpreted Lucretia's rape as perhaps an admission that she had encouraged the rapist and experienced pleasure.[56] Under Constantine, the first Christian emperor, if a father accused a man of abducting his daughter, but the daughter had given her consent to an elopement, the couple were both subject to being burnt alive. If she had been.