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Social movement that seeks equal rights for women. Widespread concern for women's rights dates from the Enlightenment; one of the first important expressions of the movement was Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others, called for full legal equality with men, including full educational opportunity and equal compensation; thereafter the woman suffrage movement began to gather momentum. It faced particularly stiff resistance in the United Kingdom and the United States, where women gained the right to vote in 1918 and 1920, respectively. By mid-century a second wave of feminism emerged to address the limited nature of women's participation in the workplace and prevailing notions that tended to confine women to the home. A third wave of feminism arose in the late 20th century and was notable for challenging middle-class white feminists and for broadening feminism's goals to encompass equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed, economic or educational status, physical appearance or ability, or sexual preference. See alsoEqual Rights Amendment; women's liberation movement.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on feminism, visit Britannica.com.