In the second half of the twentieth century, life itself forced to intensify the search for new approaches to improve the structure of the human society. Role of the conscious control of social processes has largely increased, thanks not only to enhanced level of organization of society, but also through the development of sciences such as social philosophy, sociology, social psychology, etc. Mankind dilemma is either to escape from self-destruction by improving the entire system of social relations, learning to live in peace with yourself and with nature, or degrade and disappear as an intelligent community.
In such a situation, the women’s question could not remain aloof – about the place of women in the modern society, the prospects for its involvement in the basic strategy of social development. Many leading futurologists of the modern world talk about the possibility and the need to enhance the role of women in all spheres of public life for survival of humankind (Voss 266).
Researchers have noted moderate conservatism of women as representatives of public opinion and as politicians. By her nature, a woman is a creator, not a destroyer, the keeper of life. However, it is often wrongly assumed that woman is homemaker only. Her jurisdiction is left to traditional German triad – Kinder, Kuche, Kirche. Still, the protective function of women should be understood in a much wider way. To fully understand the realities of women’s liberation movement, it is first necessary to look into its history of development
Movement for women's rights begins relatively late. For the first time the ideas of feminism were outlined in O. de Gouges’s “The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen” (1792), and in the book of T. von Hippel “On the Civil Improvement of Women” (1794). Representatives of feminism demanded gender equality through social, economic and legal reforms. In the development of feminist ideas there played a significant role suffragist movement of the early 20th century – the movement for women's suffrage, which would open up their access to political activity, ensure social equality. Women receiving electoral rights in the U.S. and Europe, as well as their employment growth led to a decline in the feminist movement, which again began to be activated after the Second World War.
In the wake of the liberating ideas of the French Revolution, the woman said to herself: "I live", and the second that came together with the industrial revolution of the XIX century, when the woman rightly argued: "I work, therefore I live". This statement was made in the XIX century, and became a support for feminism that was evolving, developing new ideological and political forms, ideas and slogans. But whatever form it took, its starting point were two phrases. One was very short: "A man and a woman – that is the social individual" delivered by Henri de Saint-Simon. Another more detailed phrase: "Empowering women is the common principle of all social progress," – formulated by Charles Fourier (Volz 48).
Great utopians by these two phrases essentially created the basis for a revolution in social understanding of existing gender relations. They went beyond the judgments of the natural purpose of the woman, not encroaching or challenging it. Thus an opportunity appeared to talk about the fact that besides the reproductive, natural functions, women can have others ones – social, civic functions, and that all these functions can complement each other. Henceforth, it was not so much of a natural, but about the social rights of women, the right for liberty, equality, fraternity. This theoretical foundation strengthened all feminist ideological constructions.
Special role in this process was played by the Marxists. First of all, they managed to overcome the anti-feminist reaction that initially prevailed in the labor movement. The most typical and important representative of this reaction was P.J. Proudhon. He categorically denied the idea of women's equality, women's rights to participate in civic life. In 1848, on behalf of the public morality and justice itself, he protested against the nomination of the famous French feminists Jeanne Deroin in the parliamentary elections - the National Assembly (Gunew 107).
Yet, Marxist feminist ideas had a significant flaw. It would be noticed later, a century later. Summing up the development of the ideas of women's equality, the French sociologist E. Morin wrote that attempt to address the problem of oppression of women through categories of class analysis was simplistic. This problem developed in the pre-class, and perhaps prehistoric, era and had not so much sociological as anthropological and sociological nature.
Under the international women's movement there is understood a set of major international women's organizations operating in Europe and North America. They have a common aim of promoting the ideas of gender equality at the level of government decision-making and in the mass consciousness, structuring of the women's movement in different regions of the world.
International women's movement, institutionalized in the late XIX – early XX century, was represented by three types of organizations: liberal-democratic – International Council of Women (ICW, 1888), International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA, 1902), social-democratic – International Women's Socialist Secretariat (IWSS, 1907) and international association with a narrow social orientation – the International Association for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade (1899).
Success the suffragist movement suspended the overall development of women's political movement, which nearly for the following four decades was in a state of hibernation. However, despite all the advances of feminism, still all spheres of life were dominated by men. It turned out that equality on paper is not enough, it was necessary to change the attitude towards women in people's minds. Awakening, or "feminine revival" began in the 60s (Crossley 10). Its epicenter was in the United States, where in these years there has been intensification of democratic processes to eliminate various forms of discrimination, especially racism. The women's movement gained new, often radical forms, which is reflected in its name – women's liberation movement.
A new wave of struggle for emancipation was due to structural changes in society, and above all – a significant increase in the share of female labor in social production. So, by 1960, women in the United States accounted for more than one-third of the country's workforce with 54% of working women married and 33% having children. It indicated that economic factors encouraged women to be included in social work practice.
In the 70-80s, the international community adopted documents that called for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. They recognized the woman in the same full-fledged subject of history, as a man, and her personality is rated higher than her "natural function", they emphasized that the birth of children, procreation is a right, not an obligation of females.
Thus, the international women's movement has had a tremendous impact on the situation of women in contemporary society, the attitude towards her from men and herself. Now the woman is more independent, self-sufficient and is perceived more as a subject, not as an object of influence. Such women as Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani politician and stateswoman who was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Begum Khaleda Zia, Bangladeshi politician who served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh between 1991 and 1996 and from 2001 to 2006, are great examples of the women’s liberation movement progress around the world.
Crossley, Alison Dahl. "Book Review: Feeling Women’s Liberation by Victoria Hesford." Gender & Society (2014): 0891243214524021.
Gunew, Sneja, ed. Feminist Knowledge (RLE Feminist Theory): Critique and Construct. Routledge, 2013.
Volz, Kirsty. "Fourth wall removed: womens' liberation or entrapment?." (2010).
Voss, Kimberly Wilmot. "Freedom for Women: Forging the Women's Liberation Movement, 1953–1970." Journal of American History 98.1 (2011): 265-266.
Zhou, Jinghao. "Keys to women’s liberation in Communist China: An historical overview." Journal of International Women's Studies 5.1 (2013): 67-77.