Feminism is a social, political and ideological movement that seeks equal rights between women and men. Feminism is born from the need to fight against oppression, discrimination and inequality that women suffer in all areas of life. Throughout history, feminism has evolved and adapted to different contexts and realities, but it has always maintained its main objective: the fight for equal rights.

In this article we are going to delve a little deeper into its birth and how it has revolutionized the defense of women's human rights. And if you want to know examples about this movement and how they are applied in 2023, click here .

The birth of feminism


Some authors locate the beginnings of feminism in ancient Greece, with figures such as Sappho of Lesbos, who wrote poetry for and about women, and Aspasia of Miletus, who emerged as a powerful figure in classical Athens. However, feminism as we know it today originated in the 19th century, in Europe and North America.

One of those revolutionary events that began to take hold in Europe was with the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which proclaimed the equality of all citizens before the law. According to historians, this would be the first wave of feminism, since these women began to become aware of oppression, so they joined forces to raise their voices.

The most prominent figure in this period was Olympe de Gouges, a French writer and political philosopher. In 1791, she published the Declaration of the Rights of Women and Female Citizens. There she made her intentions very clear: That women could have the same civil rights as men. However, two years after his article, She was executed for defending her rights.

The second wave of the feminist movement emerged in the mid-19th century, in a context of social and political change in Europe and the United States.

In this period, women begin to organize and fight for their civil, political and social rights. One of the most prominent figures of this period is Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the work "Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (1792), considered one of the first feminist works in history.

While the third wave occurs in a post-war context in which women do not want to be just full-time housewives and mothers. They raise their voices to have jobs without gender discrimination, fair salaries, maternity control, etc.

And the fourth wave of the 21st century is the one we are experiencing today; a period in which issues such as gender violence, wage gaps, among others, are the debate of society.

Feminism was born as a response to the oppression that women suffered in the society of the time. Women did not have the right to vote, could not access higher education, and their role in life was expected to be wives and mothers.

Feminists of the time demanded equal rights and opportunities for women, as well as a reform of the laws and customs that discriminated against them.

The pioneers of feminism

Feminism is not a homogeneous movement, but has evolved throughout history in different currents and trends. However, we can identify some key figures who lay the foundations of modern feminism. Look here at the most famous speeches by feminists who have made history .

As we already told you in the paragraphs above, the second wave of feminism developed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This period is characterized by the fight for women's suffrage, that is, the right of women to vote. In addition, women demand access to education, jobs and active participation in public life.

The first feminists were in the second wave were:

Mary Wollstonecraft


Mary Wollstonecraft was a philosopher, writer, and women's rights advocate born on April 27, 1759 in Spitalfields, London, England. She is considered one of the precursors of modern feminism and one of the most prominent figures of the British Enlightenment.

Wollstonecraft came from a middle-class family, but her childhood was difficult due to her father's financial problems and the lack of proper formal education for women at the time. However, she educated herself self-taught, reading widely and developing a passion for learning.

In her writings, Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for equal rights for women, arguing that women were not inherently inferior to men, but rather lacked the same educational and social opportunities. Her best-known work is "Vindication of the Rights of Woman" (1792), where she criticizes traditional notions of femininity and defends the need for the education of women so that they can participate fully in society.

Wollstonecraft argued that women should receive a rational education and be free to pursue careers and professions, rather than being relegated solely to the role of wives and mothers. It also questioned marriage and women's economic dependence, promoting the idea that marriage should be a relationship based on equality and mutual respect.

Her work was pioneering in its time and ended an intense debate about the status of women in society. Although Wollstonecraft was not there to see it, her work laid the foundation for the suffrage movement and the subsequent advancement of women's rights in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In addition to her influence on the feminist movement, Wollstonecraft also became involved in the fight for political and social equality. During the French Revolution, she suffered in France and took up with the philosopher William Godwin, with whom she had a daughter named Mary Shelley, who became the famous author of "Frankenstein."

Mary Wollstonecraft's life was brief but impactful. She died on September 10, 1797, at the age of 38, due to complications after childbirth. Despite her short life, her legacy endures and her work continues to be relevant in the fight for women's rights and gender equality. Mary Wollstonecraft remains an iconic figure in the history of feminism and her courageous advocacy for women's rights continues to inspire later generations.

Susan B.


Susan B. Anthony, was a prominent civil rights and women's rights activist in the United States. Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts, and became one of the most prominent figures of the suffrage movement in the 19th century.

From an early age, Anthony was exposed to the fight for the abolition of slavery, as his family was active in the abolitionist movement. This influenced his later commitment to social justice and equality. Throughout her life, Anthony was dedicated to promoting women's rights and gender equality.

One of Anthony's most significant contributions was her fight for women's suffrage. She firmly believed that women have the inherent right to participate in the democratic process and vote in elections. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1869, which became one of the leading organizations advocating for women's suffrage in the United States.

Susan B. Anthony is also noted for her tireless activism. She traveled around the country giving speeches, organizing conventions, and promoting women's suffrage. Additionally, she wrote extensively on women's rights and worked on drafting a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women's suffrage.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

She was born on November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, New York, and became one of the most influential figures in the suffrage movement and advocate for gender equality in the 19th century.

In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton played a key role in organizing the Seneca Falls Convention, considered the starting point of the suffrage movement in the United States. At that convention, the "Declaration of Sentiments" was drafted, which demanded equal rights for women, including the right to vote. Stanton was the primary author of this landmark document, which stated that "all men and women are created equal."

In addition to her fight for suffrage, Stanton advocated for a wide range of rights for women, including property rights, access to education, and equality in marriage and divorce. She was also an advocate for women's rights in the workplace, challenging pay discrimination and the lack of employment opportunities for women.

Stanton died on October 26, 1902, but her legacy and impact lived on in the fight for gender equality. Her dedication and persistence laid the foundation for women's suffrage in the United States and her work inspired later generations of women to fight for their rights and equality in all areas of society.

In addition to her fight for suffrage, Stanton advocated for a wide range of rights for women, including property rights, access to education, and equality in marriage and divorce. She was also an advocate for women's rights in the workplace, challenging pay discrimination and the lack of employment opportunities for women.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was a prominent British leader and suffragist, recognized for her pivotal role in the fight for women's rights in the United Kingdom. She was born on July 15, 1858 in Manchester, England, and became an emblematic figure of the suffrage movement in the first half of the 20th century.

Pankhurst founded and led the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, an organization that shifted to more radical and militant tactics in its fight for women's suffrage. Under his leadership, the WSPU sought to draw public attention and put pressure on politicians through protests, demonstrations, and acts of civil disobedience.

The third wave of feminism


The third wave of feminism developed in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century. After World War II. This period is characterized by the struggle and equal rights in all areas of life: work, education, fair salaries, family, sexuality, divorces, among others. Women demanded their right to decide about their own bodies and to have access to safe and legal contraceptive methods.

Among the most notable figures of this period are:

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was a prominent French writer, philosopher and feminist, born on January 9, 1908 in Paris. She is recognized as one of the most influential figures of feminism and existentialism in the 20th century.

Beauvoir is best known for her work "The Second Sex" (Le Deuxième Sexe), published in 1949. This revolutionary book analyzes the social, political and cultural position of women and questions traditional conceptions of gender and the role of women. in society. Beauvoir argues that women have historically been considered "the other" in relation to men, and explores the ways in which women's oppression has been perpetuated throughout history.

In "The Second Sex," Beauvoir argues that the oppression of women is not a natural or biological result, but is the product of social and cultural constructs. She argues that women have been relegated to subordinate roles and denied freedom and autonomy, and advocates the need for women to emancipate themselves and fight for their own liberation.

Betty Friedan


Betty Friedan was a prominent American feminist writer and activist, born February 4, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois. She is considered one of the key figures in the second wave feminist movement in the United States.

Friedan is known mainly for her book "The Feminine Mystique", published in 1963. This work, considered a classic of feminism, analyzes the dissatisfaction and discomfort experienced by many women of the time, especially middle-class housewives. , whose lives were limited to the traditional roles of wife and mother.

The activist questioned the idea that female fulfillment was found only in the domestic sphere and pointed out the lack of options and opportunities for women in society.

The impact of "The Feminine Mystique" was significant and is credited with inspiring many women to question their situation and seek greater autonomy and personal fulfillment. The book is also credited as a catalyst for the resurgence of the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

She was an advocate for abortion rights and was active in the campaign to legalize it in the United States. Her dedication and leadership contributed to the success of the feminist movement and helped drive important legislative and social changes in the country.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a prominent American writer, journalist and feminist activist, born on March 25, 1934 in Toledo, Ohio. She is recognized as one of the most influential and emblematic figures of the feminist movement in the United States and internationally.

Steinem began her career as a journalist and writer in the 1960s. Through her work, she addressed issues related to women's rights, gender equality, and social justice. Her writing style and ability to clearly and persuasively communicate made her a leading voice in the feminist movement.

In 1971, Steinem co-founded the feminist magazine "Ms.", which became an important platform for debate and discussion on feminist issues. The magazine addressed a wide range of topics, from politics to popular culture, and sought to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equal rights.

In addition to her work as a writer and journalist, Steinem was a tireless activist. She participated in marches, demonstrations and campaigns in favor of women's rights and other issues related to social justice. She defended equal pay, the right to abortion, the end of gender violence and equal opportunities for all women.

She was also an advocate for women's rights internationally. She traveled the world, meeting and working with women from different cultures and countries to address the inequalities and challenges they face.

Today, Gloria Steinem remains an active and respected figure in the feminist movement. Her dedication to promoting women's rights, her commitment to social justice, and her tireless fight for gender equality and equity have left a lasting legacy, inspiring generations of activists around the world. Learn in detail the difference between gender equality and equity at this link .

Fourth wave of feminism


In the 21st century, gender inequality continues to be a topic of debate in society. Feminism has taken on great importance throughout the world.

Thanks to that event on March 8, 1857, where hundreds of factory workers took to the streets to demand better wages, the UN proclaims International Women's Day every 8M; a day in which millions of feminists around the world hold massive demonstrations to remember the brave work of the pioneers and fighters who marked history by defending their rights.

There is also the #MeToo movement, in which thousands of women report being victims of sexual harassment and gender violence on social networks. If you want to know the characteristics of a feminist woman, you cannot stop clicking on this article .

The importance of feminism today

Feminism is a crucial movement for achieving an equal and just society, and it is the responsibility of all people to fight for equal rights between women and men.

And although important progress has been made in the fight for gender equality, there is still much to do. Women continue to face discrimination and inequality in many areas of society, from the labor market to domestic life.

Feminism continues to be a key tool to denounce these injustices and work for a more just and equal society. In addition, feminism has evolved to include other forms of oppression, such as racism, homophobia or transphobia, and has become an intersectional movement that seeks social justice for all people.

In general we can say that feminism has evolved throughout history and in different currents and trends, but it has always maintained its commitment to social justice and the transformation of society.

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