The National Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1869, with a focus on achieving a constitutional amendment granting women in the United States the right to vote. The American Woman Suffrage Association was formed alter in that same year, and its efforts were directed at achieving individual state amendments or laws allowing women to vote -- a tactic that would prove more successful for several decades. In 1913, however, here still had not been a significant amount of progress made, and a more radical group was formed. The Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage was more vocal in their fight, but also slighted women of color as a means of retaining popularity in the South. The struggle continues with such organizations as the National Organization for Women, which was founded in the 1960s in an effort to establish true equality and freedom from discrimination for women.
One of the reasons for the formation of the National Organization for Women was the fact that, despite legislation like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, there were still many disparities in the way women were treated both in the halls of government and the offices and boardrooms of the corporate world. This Act was passed by Congress in order to ensure the equality of wages based on gender, but many women activists were angered by the fact that the legislation was not really enforced, and companies often got away with disparities in pay and even in hiring practices. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was even more sweeping in its condemnation of discriminatory practices based on gender in many matters of business, including employment, wages, banking decisions, etc. yet despite such hard-won legislation, the issue of gender equality in this country is still far from over.
The first woman was elected to Congress in 1917, and the struggle for equality within the government itself has been in full force ever since. Currently, there are seventeen female U.S. Senators and seventy-four women sated in the House of Representatives, making for the highest number of women ever serving in the U.S. Congress in the nation's history. Nancy Pelosi is also the first female Speaker of the House, a very powerful political position (and second to the Vice President in terms of ascension to the Presidency). Still, given that these numbers represent far less than half of the available Congressional seats, it is clear that equality is not really a state that has been reached in terms of gender. The struggle for women's rights and equality continues with more political force today, however, thanks to the work of those in the past.