Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

This guide offers a history of various movements by citizens in the United States to gain political and social freedom and equality. It highlights resources available through the library and also offers a list of current civil rights organizations.

Introduction to Women's Civil Rights

You've come a long way, baby....or have you?

Women have gained the right to vote and decisions like Roe v. Wade allowed them to make their own reproductive decisions. But since that decision almost 44 years ago, women's rights to decide for themselves when it comes to reproductive matters have been chipped away over time. Women are now at a critical juncture. Funding for Planned Parenthood is threatened, as are the rights established by Roe v. Wade and its ilk.

Furthermore, women's rights activists must come together and be inclusive of all women rather than expecting women of color to bend to a white version of feminism. This holds true for accepting transgendered and lesbian or bisexual activists as well. Women's rights activists need to work to see each other's viewpoints and gain an understanding of what each perspective can bring to the table.

Women have made strides in the workplace but the wage gap still exists and there are areas that women have yet to conquer. Perhaps someday a woman will be elected President of the United States. In the meantime, women should seek to be more equally represented in the government, both on the national and state/local levels. As of 2015, 104 women hold seats in the U.S. Congress; out of 535 members, this is approximately 19%. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

The past year has been difficult as stories of convicted sexual assailants given lenient sentences flooded social media. It would be easy to feel as though women are being devalued or even actively fought against. But there is hope. Women are not alone and women can overcome the hurdles they face today. It will take unity and courage.

Women's Rights