Economic empowerment has always been high on the feminist agenda. In capitalist societies, economic power ensures you have a greater voice and more political influence than you otherwise would. When you’re economically secure, you’re able to provide a secure, safe environment for yourself and your family, you can take up educational opportunities you might not otherwise have access to, and you can enjoy greater levels of ease as you pursue your creative dreams.
One of the reasons I love supporting female entrepreneurs is because building a business is a feminist act. It’s the next frontier of women’s economic empowerment and we are thrilled to see so many women taking up the opportunity to take hold of their economic future.
Below is a short (and in no way exhaustive) timeline of women’s economic empowerment in Australia, the UK, and the US.
Aus, 1902: Women* are granted the right to vote and to stand for parliament. (*NB: The law only applied to Australian citizens. Aboriginal women weren’t counted as citizens until 1967.)
UK, 1918: Women get the right to vote
US, 1920: Women get the right to vote
UK, 1946: The ban on the employment of married women is lifted for the Home Civil Service
US, 1960s: Women get the right to own a bank account
US, 1963: The Equal Pay Act is introduced in the US abolishing wage disparity (gender pay gap) on the basis of sex
US, 1964: The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, or ethnic origin and effectively removes the marriage ban
Aus, 1966: The bar on married women being employed in the Commonwealth Public Service is lifted
Aus, 1969: Women granted equal pay
UK, 1970: Women granted equal pay
UK, 1970s: Working women stopped being refused mortgages on their own right (without a male signatory)
Aus, 1970s: Employment discrimination on the basis of gender or marital status is outlawed
US, 1972: Katharine Graham, scion of the company that owns the Washington Post, becomes the first woman to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company
UK, 1973: The ban on the employment of married women is lifted for the Foreign Office
Aus, 1973: Commonwealth employees granted 12 weeks paid maternity leave
UK, 1975: Women get the right to own a bank account
UK, 1982: Women are allowed to spend their money at the pub without being refused service
UK, 1986: Women are able to retire at the same age as men
US, 1988: The Women’s Business Ownership Act frees women from the obligation to provide a signature from a male relative when applying for a business loan
UK, 1999: After a patchy history with maternity leave starting in the 1970s, mothers became entitled to 18 weeks’ paid leave
UK, 2003: Paid paternity leave of two weeks is introduced
Aus, 2011: 18 weeks of paid parental leave is introduced to the primary carer and may be shared with an eligible partner
Aus, 2013: In addition to 18 weeks paid parental leave, two weeks of Dad and partner pay is introduced.