Women and American Social Welfare Policy

It was in the 19th century that the American Women’s right movement was born. This is where women got involved in male protests that condemned slavery and an end to peculiar institution. Women, through abolitionist movements, managed to attain skills that they used in orchestrating for a successful reform movement. It was from this abolitionist movement that several women became leaders in the women movement. Among the women who participated in the movement and came to be new leaders in the women suffrage movement include Alice Paul, Jane Addams, and Carrie Chapman Catt (Herrick 2016).

The one similarity among the social welfare contributors is that they are all persistent. What they advocated for later got attention from governments and international communities, hence resulting in the success of their activism. For Alice Paul, she participated in the British movement and rejuvenated in the American movements (Chafe 1991). For Carrie Chapman Catt, who was the president of United Nations American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), came up with a plan that was said to be a “winning plan” which demanded the suffrage victories with both the state and federal levels (Herrick 2016). To her call, President Woodrow Wilson, in 1919 after the 1st World War, granted women the right to participate in voting in elections (Chafe 1991).

Similarly, Jane Addams’ pursuit was at last accepted by both the state and national government. Addams advocated for the welfare of the immigrants and the poor urban slum dwellers. She advocated for the formation of legislations that governed immigrant protection from exploitation, working hour limits, guarantee schools for children, offer industrial safety, and acknowledge the presence and duties of labor unions (Chafe 1991). The government of Illinois later considered her plea and created laws that protected child labor and education. Similarly, the United States government established Children Bureau in 1912 followed by the enacting of the laws governing child labor at the national level (Eleanor 1975).

Also, the activists had an influential contribution in the nineteenth amendment that was passed as a part of the Constitution of the United States.

Some remarkable differences exist among the social welfare activists. For Alice Paul, she opposed the governance of Democrat President Wilson Woodrow as she advocated that women hold the party that had the power to vote him out. Unlike her, Carrie Chapman Catt was a President Wilson Woodrow supporter (Eleanor 1975).  This difference in political ideology led to Alice Paul’s exit from NAWSA movement and formed the Congress Union, which later became National Women’s Party (Chafe 1991). Unlike other activists who pushed for women suffrages through peaceful strategies, Alice Paul applied demonstrations through riots and public displays as she sought for women’s voting rights. This, despite getting her arrested and charged in court for obstruction of traffic, it also enabled the passage of the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

The other difference between the three women was their main agenda of activism. Jane Addams championed for settlement of the immigrants and the poor slum dwellers that had been neglected and mistreated in the industries. Carrie Chapman Catt advocated for women suffrage while Alice Paul stood for both suffrage and equal rights in the constitution (History.com 2009).

Jane Addams was one of the most active progressive activists who advocated for the settlement house movement (Settlement Work in North America np). Addams’s initiative was to improve the social conditions in which the immigrants and other slum-dwellers underwent without notice or concern from those in government. The immigrants included the Italians, Russians, Jews, Irish, and the Greek. Jane, together with other volunteers, offered the immigrants services such daycare and kindergarten facilities for the working mothers and trade union groups. She founded Hull House; a Chicago-based settlement house that men and women from the upper class always attempted to befriend of offer social services to the immigrants and the slum dwellers that were financially unable (Herrick 2016).

With a systematic research and the high mix of professional involvements, Jane Addams managed to establish a specific ground for American social work that later got international concerns and interests. From that first time, Hull House received various international guests as it hosted some initiatives (Settlement Work in North America np). This is where Addams’ work translated to greater social involvements as she combined her work in Hull House with various comparable initiatives and contributions to the peace movements during the First World War, earning her the name Saint Jane.

Hull House was serving more than two thousand people every week in a situation of hardship. The economic depression that hit the country from 1893 called for charitable donations from charity efforts and politicians so as to sustain a large number of immigrants supported in Hull House. With the continued economic crisis, Jane decided that poverty would not come to an end unless the laws were changed. Therefore, she made an effort to dig down into what she termed as the cause of poverty so as to find a permanent solution (Settlement Work in North America np). Laborers and well-wishers joined Jane Addams in confronting the state laws of Illinois so as to determine the existence of the laws governing child labor, inspection systems of the factories, and the justice system for the juveniles. The group legislated for the immigrant protection from exploitation, working hour limits, guarantee schools for children, offer industrial safety, and acknowledge the presence and duties of labor unions.

The residents of Hull-House led by Addams, Florence Kelly, Julie Lathrop, Gates Starr, among others formed an initiatives group that championed the life of the immigrants. Among the various initiatives the group formed includes Immigrant’s Protective League, the Juvenile Court, the Juvenile Psychopathic Clinic, and the Juvenile Protective Association (Settlement Work in North America np). However, the clinics were later converted to be juvenile child research. The legislature of Illinois adopted laws that offered protection to children and women in 1903 so as to honor the efforts of the women group. The state of Illinois passed tough legislations regarding child labor with compulsory child education laws (Settlement Work in North America np). To further recognize the efforts of the Hull House reformers, the United States created Children Bureau in 1912 followed by the enacting of the laws governing child labor at the national level.

Jane Addams presented her argument that favored women suffrage in “The Larger Aspect of the Woman’s Movement.” She profoundly stated the social and economic changes that would make a woman suffrage necessary. According to her, the demands women placed for political enfranchisement did not come at a good time. This is because, by that moment, the social conditions were degraded and unsatisfactory, as they were held accountable for the wretchedness and the unfortunate fate that in all the suffering and crime acts that every day pushed women upon their attention in painful and friendly ways (Settlement Work in North America np).

She was a talented writer who passed her message through writing. She always wrote on topics and matters associated with Hull House and the activities therein. She wrote eleven books with numerous more articles (Settlement Work in North America np). Her book, Twenty Years at Hull House, described her personal and professional experience while in Chicago and her view on ethical values and aspects of life during the progressive era. Also, the writings aroused essential elements within the social gospel that determined the social and economic aspects (Dubois 1993).

Also, Jane Addams was an influential speaker. She always maintained an aggressive speaking timetable across the country and globally. She was an active player in international organizations, where she led in the formation of International League of Women, Chicago Federation of Settlements, and led the establishment of the Consumer League before becoming the first president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. Among other roles Jane played include leading the Labor Committee of the General Federation of Women’s Club (Settlement Work in North America np).

In addition to championing for the welfare of the immigrants, women, and children, Jane Addams also played a key role in campaigning for women suffrage. She was engaged in world peace movements and advocated for internationalism (Dubois 1993). This was seen during the First World War where she took part in the International Congress of Women at The Hague. Even after America joined the war, Jane remained in her stance, working in the Women Peace Party. She became the first president of Women International League for Peace and Freedom before becoming American’s first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 (Settlement Work in North America np).

Carrie Chapman Catt was the major contributor and coordinator of the suffrage movement which she was encouraged by her husband, George Catt, at the same time she was one of the most skillful strategists. She initiated the National American Women Suffrage Association, where she acted the most significant role in the success of its campaign that won women rights (Eleanor 1975). Chapman was very engaging, in most conventions, she spoke about the National American Women Suffrage Association with her writing and speaking involvement, she managed to develop and establish her reputation as a leading suffragist (Eleanor 1975).

Chapman addressed the Congress in 1892 where she proposed the amendments of the suffrage. Carrie tirelessly continued with her involvement that saw her assist in the organization of the International Women Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) IN 1902, which incorporated other associations with similar objectives in at least 32 countries. She, however, dropped as president of NAWSA when her husband was bedridden. After receiving encouragement from doctors to continue with her pursuit of the social welfare, she spent her time as president of IWSA where she supported and promoted global equality for suffrage rights (Dubois 1993).

She came back to America in 1915 to take over as NAWSA president again. It was in this convention in New Jersey that Carrie Chapman presented her “winning plan” to campaign simultaneously for suffrage rights both at the state and federal levels. Also, the Winning Plan was intended to compromise for incomplete suffrage in these countries that counterattacked change (Dubois 1993). According to Carrie, there existed the most appropriate approach to take to deliver the suffrage to women: during the time the association of the thirty-six states got in a solemn compact so as to get the Federal Amendment to be submitted by the Congress and ratified by the respective legislature.  According to Chapman, the strategy was to get the Amendment through and ratified when Congress live to their compact to run campaigns in their states which are designed to create and develop sentiment behind their political leaders.

Catt, with her dynamic leadership, struggled with NAWSA until she won the support of the Senate and the ratification amendment (Dubois 1993). As a result, women suffrage referendum was passed in 1917 in New York, influencing President Wilson Woodrow to accept the cause. Therefore, the Amendment became part of the Constitution of the United States in 1920, as the Nineteenth Amendment (Dubois 1993).

After delivering the victory, Carrie Chapman resigned as the president and leader of NAWSA, despite her continued support and working for equal suffrage. It was here that she found a new League of Women Voters, where she died while serving as an honorary leader (Herrick np). Before her death, Chapman had published various social welfare books such as Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement. She was also a frontier in fighting for child labor and global peace. Among the other organizations, she led in her later life include the League of Nations, Cure of War and the National Committee (Eleanor 1975).

Alice Paul was a suffragette and a key figure in the formation of the nineteenth amendment that was the center of women welfare through the National Women’s Party that she formed. She was seen as the most radical welfare activist that ever lived in the twentieth century. Her progressive nature resulted in the breaking of the National American Women Suffrage Association, where she formed the Congressional Union (Fry 2016) that she dedicated to pursuing federal amendments of the constitution on women suffrage (Fry 2016).

Paul was an extraordinary active woman in women suffrage procession. In 1913 in Washington, her first biggest project was the organization of the Woman Suffrage Procession, just before the inauguration of President Wilson Woodrow, who she politically opposed. Paul believed that Woodrow becoming president would make him have more influence and powers of the Congress, which would be a setback for the nineteenth amendment she pushing to be passed (Fry 2016). She organized over eight thousand marchers from different states in the country, with banners and chariots, with a display of floats. The people paraded to represent the lives of women and gathered at the capital, Washington. The purpose of the match was to prevent Wilson from becoming president and to demand the amendments to the constitution that was enfranchising women in America (History.com 2009).

Paul’s activism resulted to her mistreatment by the government as she experienced a series of arrests, imprisonments, forced feeding, and hunger strikes (History.com np). She was a brave woman who knew how to generate publicity for the cause, as well as how to capitalize on advertising (History.com 2009). After breaking away from National American Women Suffrage Association together with other women, Paul created and founded the National Women’s Party (Chafe 1991).

Despite America joining the First World War, she continued to lead pickets in both the white house and the congress without abandoning or changing her tactical methods. Ultimately, it was her tactics, together with the influence of Carrie Chapman Catt that resulted in President Wilson’s acceptance to make the suffrage amendment a priority. She was, therefore, a pivot in the passage and the ratification of the ninth amendment in 1920 (History.com 2009).

Apart from demanding for women suffrage, Paul, in 1923, also proposed for the inclusion of Equal Human rights in the constitution. As other women feared the opposition to their organizations losing protective legislations, Paul got acceptance on the key political parties’ platform in 1944. She worked at the National Women’s offices in Washington until her deteriorating health became a concern (Eleanor 1975). Throughout Alice’s life, she lived and remained a convicted conservative with a demanding profession both from her and colleagues. With her conviction, she could not be easily convinced to change her perception and the tactical methods she applied in her quest for social welfare policy (Eleanor 1975).

In conclusion, the three women’s work and sacrifice contributed to the welfare policy in America. Their involvement freedom movements and forming of associations enabled their country and the world to listen to their plea for equality and female suffrage, which they finally obtained through the ninth amendment of the constitution. Their work is significant to today’s society, where women are still disadvantaged in the society.