In a sense, feminism has always existed

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Compare and contrast first wave and second wave feminism.

In the mid-1800s the term ‘feminism’ was used to refer to ‘the qualities of females’, and it was not until after the First International Women's Conference in Paris in 1892 that the term, following the French term féministe, was used regularly in English for a belief in and advocacy of equal rights for women, based on the idea of the equality of the sexes. Although the term ‘feminism’ in English is rooted in the mobilization for woman suffrage in Europe and the US during the late 19th and early 20th century  efforts to obtain justice for women did not begin or end with this period of activism.(Rendall, 2002)  Other notable 19th-century feminists include, ,  and .                                                                                       Feminism is not a new concept. Women have defended their rights, as they perceived them, on various battlefields throughout history. Even so, in the modern sense, Feminism can be said to have begun around 1830's with the women's movement for suffrage. Women, as a collective unit, stood together asserting their rights as members of society, to take equal part in the government that supposedly represented them. This movement is now known as the First wave of Feminism. Some forty years later women began mobilizing again and hence The Second Wave of Feminism arose out of the demand of equal pay for equal work.        

In a sense, feminism has always existed. Certainly, as long as women have been subordinated, they have resisted that subordination. Sometimes the resistance has been collective and conscious…..Despite the continuity of women's resistance, however, only within the last two or three hundred years has a visible and widespread feminist movement emerged that has attempted to struggle in an organized way against women's special oppression.’(Jaggar, 1983)

                                                                                                The first wave of feminism refers to the first concerted movement working for the reform of women's social and legal inequalities in the nineteenth century. Although individual feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft had already argued against the injustices suffered by women, it was not until the 1850's that something like an organized feminist movement evolved in Britain. Its headquarters were at Langham Place in London, where a group of middle-class women, led by Barbara Bodichon and Bessie Rayner Parkes, met to discuss topical issues and publish the English Woman's Journal (1858-64).   The key concerns of First Wave Feminists were education, employment, the marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent middle-class single women. They were not primarily concerned with the problems of working-class women, nor did they necessarily see themselves as feminists in the modern sense (the term was not coined until 1895).

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First Wave Feminists largely responded to specific injustices they had themselves experienced.  Their major achievements were the opening of higher education for women; reform of the girls' secondary-school system, including participation in formal national examinations: the widening of access to the professions, especially medicine; married women's property rights, recognized in the Married Women's Property Act of 1870; and there were some improvement in divorced and separated women's child custody rights.  However active until the First World War, First Wave Feminists failed however, to secure the women's vote. ‘One of the major drives behind feminism was the need felt by middle class ...

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