The Women's Movement Essay

4661 words - 19 pages

The Women's Rights Movement (1848-1998) The Women's Rights Movement was and continues to be one of the most incredible and inspirational series of events to occur in AustraliaThe Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes sex discrimination against the law. The Act gives effect to Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and parts of International Labour Organisation Convention 156. Its major objectives are to:* promote equality between men and women;* eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities; and* eliminate sexual harassment at work, in ...view middle of the document...

Some women found themselves widowed on inadequate pensions or the companions of severely war-shocked men, with little community understanding of or support for their problems.The full import of the mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki began to dawn and many women gave birth to the first atomic generation. These children, faced with the fragility of life, on a massive scale, produced a revolt against traditional values. This bewildered parents and placed extra pressures on women, as Experts debated the extent to which working mothers might be blamed for social problems.As the suburban dream grew out of the post-war housing shortages and a rapidly expanding consumerism, too many women found themselves prisoners of their new homes and captives to the growth industry of valium and drug therapy for suburban neurosis.Peace also brought the Cold War as new spheres of interest were struck in Eastern Europe, China and the Pacific region. The technologies triggered by war accelerated both growth and contradictions - development and underdevelopment, privilege and underprivilege, treks to the stars, space adventure and the potential for total annihilation. From time to time the Cold War flared into open conflict in Korea, Hungary, the Suez Canal and, later, Viet Nam and other areas.During the 1950s, politics of all kinds were played out against the background of extreme bigotry and a dwindling democratic practice. Attempts were made not only to ban the Communist Party, but to give the government powers to declare who was or was not a communist, with the onus of proof on the accused. It was a time which has been described by radicals and conservatives alike as one of hysterical witch-hunting during which anti-communism was used to smother political dissent or to blacken opponents, whatever their real persuasion.One off-shoot of this was that left and radical groups, including IWD, were refused the use of many public halls. These, and other more long-standing personal and political tensions, also disrupted the co-operation established between women's groups during the war.While much of the war-time co-operation had been the result of a strong national sentiment in support of the war, it, too, contained subterranean tensions which sometimes flared into open dispute. In one instance, in a Sydney factory where women from more privileged backgrounds had gone to work to aid the war effort, they came into conflict with working class women when they refused to join the union, or concern themselves with industrial disputes over equal pay. 4Nevertheless, it had been possible in 1944 to bring together 200 women from 90 organisations throughout Australia (despite travel restrictions), including representatives from traditional women's organisations, feminists, and unions. This conference agreed on an Australian Women's Charter which called for equality in opportunity, work and pay, better health services, child care, pensions and welfare, and supported the need...

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