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Historians have sometimes metaphorically described movements for social justice or change, such as feminist movements, as a series of waves or cycles with distinct beginnings and ends. In reality, these waves of feminism are not circumscribed as there is much continuity and overlap among the issues, approaches, and even some activists from wave to wave. Furthermore, there has never been just one type of feminism, but there are many feminist perspectives that have informed and continue to inform advocates of gender equality. This entry focuses on first-wave feminists, who were active primarily during the 19th century up through World War II, and provides an overview of the issues with which they were concerned, including social, political, educational, economic, and legal rights.

Historical Background

The Seneca Falls Convention, ...

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