The women's rights movement: A timeline of significant events
1848: Five women, including young housewife and mother Elizabeth Cady Stanton, are having tea when the conversation turns to the situation of women in America. Within a week, they organize a two-day convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., to discuss women's rights. There, participants sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which calls for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women. The women's rights movement has begun.
1851: Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist, women's rights activist and former slave, delivers the famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.
1866: Congress passes the 14th Amendment granting all citizens the right to vote, but for the first time in the Constitution, "citizens" and "voters" are defined as "male."
1869: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association, while Lucy Stone (the first American woman to keep her maiden name after marriage) and others form the American Woman Suffrage Association.
Wyoming, then a territory, passes the first women's suffrage law in the country.
1913: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns form the Congressional Union to work toward a federal amendment that would give women the vote. The group later is renamed the National Women's Party. Members picket the White House and in 1917 are arrested; some go on hunger strikes and are force-fed.
1916: Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn and within 10 days is arrested. She continues to fight to establish women's right to control their own bodies and opens another clinic, with legal support, in 1923.
1920: The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote. Charlestonian Anita Pollitzer was instrumental in its passage.
1923: The Equal Rights Amendment, written by Alice Paul, first is presented to Congress.
1945: Millions of women lose their jobs when servicemen return from World War II, though surveys show 80 percent want to keep working.
1960: The Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pills.
1963: Congress passes the Equal Pay Act, promising equitable wages for the same work regardless of sex, race, religion or national origin.
1964: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passes, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion or national origin.
1965: In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court overturns one of the last state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples.
1972: In Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy includes an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives.
Title IX of the Education Amendments bans sex discrimination in schools that receive federal support. The number of women in athletic programs and professional schools increases drastically.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which now reads, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The amendment dies in 1982 when it fails to achieve ratification by a minimum of 38 states.
1973: In Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court declares that the Constitution protects women's right to terminate an early pregnancy, thus making abortion legal.
1976: The first marital rape law passes in Nebraska, making it illegal for a husband to rape his wife.
1978: Congress passes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibiting employment discrimination against pregnant women.
1981: The Supreme Court rules that excluding women from the draft is constitutional.
In Kirchberg v. Feenstra, the Supreme Court overturns state laws designating a husband "head and master" with unilateral control of property owned jointly with his wife.
1993: The Family and Medical Leave Act goes into effect, allowing female workers to take employment leave after giving birth.
1994: The Violence Against Women Act funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes, and provides training to increase police and court officials' sensitivity and a national 24-hour hot line for battered women. The National Organization for Women called it "the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades."
1995: Shannon Faulkner is the first woman to attend The Citadel in its 152-year history. She sued the all-male, state-supported school and was admitted under court order. In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled that the all-male policy at the Virginia Military Institute, also a state-funded military college, was unconstitutional. After that, The Citadel's board voted to open its doors to women, and four women enrolled in 1996.
2009: President Barack Obama signs the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows victims of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck. Previously, victims were allowed only 180 days from the date of the first unfair paycheck. The act is named after a former employee of Goodyear, who was paid 15 percent-40 percent less than her male counterparts, who won't benefit from the legislation. She said the reward is that the nation's daughters and granddaughters will be better off.