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As humans, we are faced with making choices every single day. They’re often simple: what should we eat for breakfast, what should we wear, should we put on makeup or not, et cetera. Some of them are bigger than others. Whom should I marry? Where should I work? Should I be a working mom? Should I be a stay-at-home mom? Although making decisions is often stressful, we as women should be grateful for some of the more serious choices, as women in the past did not have very many options when it came to these choices.

Because of the sacrifices and choices made by women in the past, today we can make decisions that may not have been an option to us otherwise. U.S. News composed a list of monumental events for women’s rights. Below is a short compilation of that list.

Women in many countries, including the early United States, did not have the right to own property or control their own wages. In 1839, Mississippi granted women permission to hold property in their names, with permission from their husbands. By the year 1900, all states allowed women to own their own property and keep their own wages without needing the permission of a male.

In 1918, Margaret Sanger won a suit that allows doctors to advise married patients about birth control. This option was not previously available to women. We have the right to choose birth control because of the choices and sacrifices Margaret Sanger made.

Two years later, women were granted the right to vote. Next year will be the 100-year anniversary of women having this right.

The equal pay act was passed in 1963, ensuring that women were legally obligated to receive the same amount of money as their male counterparts. A year later, the Civil Rights Act was passed, meaning a woman could not be turned away from work because of her gender. Not just that, but in 1978, a law was passed that made it illegal for employers to show any kind of discrimination against women because
of pregnancy. If you choose to work, you can thank the women of the past for your paycheck.

The Violence against Women Act was passed in 1994, allowing women to receive civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes.

Because of women’s choices in the past, we can make choices today that were not available to them. And it goes further than just employment, birth control, voting and owning property. Women can now be lawyers, on juries, file for divorce, fight in the military, hold government positions, all of which were illegal in the past.

Most countries have been making huge strides for years to give women more rights. New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote. Rwanda currently has the most women in government, with women holding more than 60 percent of parliamentary seats. Saudi Arabia gave women the right to drive in 2016 and began allowing female visitors to visit without a male companion. 

Whatever country you live in, you can make choices to help better your country, family, and future generations. Seek out local government officials and speak your truth. Speak for those who can’t about what changes need to be made and why. That way, more choices can be available to future generations.

I am grateful for the sacrifices made by women in the past so that I can enjoy a more equal present. I am grateful to have so many opportunities. Although sometimes these choices are difficult, I am grateful that I have the chance to even make them at all.