Social movements are loosely formed groupings of individuals which are usually formed with the aim of campaigning for or against the implementation of a certain issue in the society. Social movements do not have standard sizes because some may be made up of few individuals while others may cover even the whole part of the world. The size of the movement generally depends on the issues that are being debated at the time of its formation. Such movements are generally governed by the spontaneous coming together of people guided by no rules of regulations but rather by the common cause that brings the together (Saunders & Walter, 2005). Some of the hottest topics that mostly capture the agendas of most western social movements include freedom of expressions, economic independence, and gender equality among others. The purpose of this study is to identify social movements that address issues related to gender and how such movements have affected gender. This will be possible by analyzing the political environment that led to the existence of the social movements being discussed. The study will also seek to identify some of the impacts that the movements have head in the society at large (Love, 2006).
Women's Suffrage, Ecofeminism and Women's liberations movements are some of the social movements identified in this study that have some effect on gender issues and how the society addresses issues related to women. Women's suffrage for instance is a social movements formed in the early 18th century to advocate for women to vote and run for public offices. This social movement has its basis on the era in which women were discriminated and considered to be too weak to hold any public office with diligence (Chapman, 2009). Such a movement called for the reformation of the economic and political spheres so that women could have equal competing field with men. Additionally, the movement also articulated for the honoring of women by being given equal rights as men in the ownership of property, payment of tax among other rights. Evidence point out that New Zealand became the first nation to vote for a woman to hold public office as a result of this social movement (Saunders & Walter, 2005).
The existence of the Women's Suffrage as a social movement clearly points out the nature of the political environment at those times to have been discriminative against women. Women were generally not allowed not to hold any public office and they had no right to own property. Generally, women were treated as if they did not have any say regarding their rights. However, the emergence of this movement drastically changed the perspective of the society towards women (Saunders & Walter, 2005). The fact that women became part of leaders and held public offices is a clear indication that the social movement had a positive effect on the society because they ended up accepting the facts given by the social movement. The change also had the effect of changing the political structures of nations that accepted the calls made by the social movement.
Ecofeminism is another social movement that has been shown to have a significant impact on the society. This movement indicates that there exists a commonality between environmentalism and being a woman. According to the proponents of this movement, there is a relationship between the way women are oppressed in the society and the destruction of nature through the creation of concepts that may indicate how inferior women are inferior to men (Chapman, 2009). This social movement explores or existed in a society that believed that men are always superior over women. Such a political environment is seen to have perpetuated social inequalities like racism among others. The brainchild of this movement was driven by the fact that the same intellect that promotes the destruction of the environment.
The existence of ecofeminism describes the political environment in twofold. Women were being oppressed and discriminated in all manners possible. It also shows that there was environmental degradation that would ultimately threaten human existence. The coming of this social movement changed the society's perspective by improving the interrelationships between human beings. Additionally, the movement is seen as one of the factors that led to the extinction of discrimination on the basis of gender. Consciousness about caring for the environment also developed due to the coming up of the social movement (Love, 2006).
Women's liberation movement is another social movement distinct from the feminism or ecofeminism which began to develop in the early 1960s. The social movement was formed to fight for all the possible women rights that may have been violated at the time of its formation. The movement was strengthened through the formation of two bodies in the United States. The National Organization of Women and Equal Rights Amendment were formed with the aim championing for the honoring of the rights of women. The political environment during the formation of the social movement clearly indicates how the rights of women we not being respected (Chapman, 2009).
However, the existence of this social movement is seen to have changed the perspective of the society regarding the ways in which they could be able to treat women equally as men. This may have been the reason that led to the formation of the two bodies to oversee the fact that the rights of women were respected. Social movements are important bodies of the society because they address issues that dealt unfairly in the society. The ones related to gender are seen to champion for the respect of the rights of women in a society and a political environment that despises them (Love, 2006). The social movements identified in this study are seen to have facilitated the eradication of vices like racial and gender discrimination among others. The nature of the political environment is seen to facilitate the formation of a social movement in the sense that whenever the rights of a particular groups are infringed, the afflicted groups may be forced to from a movement that will champion for their rights (Saunders & Walter, 2005).