The late twentieth century and early twenty-first century witnessed many groups agitating for equal rights, including women, seniors, the disabled, and gays and lesbians.


Like African Americans, women have had to struggle to win equal protection under federal law. The Constitution explicitly gives men power and rights that were not given to women, including the right to vote.

The First Women’s Movement (1840s–1920s)

In 1848, a group of women met in Seneca Falls, New York, to organize the suffrage movement. The Seneca Falls activists were disappointed when the Fifteenth Amendment extended the right to vote to black men, but not women. Women did not win the right to vote until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920.

The Second Women’s Movement (1960s)

The civil rights movement of the 1950s galvanized many women to create their own movement for civil rights. Feminism, the movement that seeks social, political, and legal equality for women, gained strength. In 1966, several feminists formed the National Organization for Women (NOW) to promote their goals, including the Equal Rights Amendment.

Popular pages: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights