The Declaration of Sentiments: Then and Now

By Neeknaz Abari on July 20, 2017

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Today is a day to celebrate - exactly 169 years ago, the Seneca Falls Convention changed the course of women’s history. Seneca Falls was where great feminists of the time, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, and Mary Ann McClintock, came together to sign the Declaration of Sentiments - the first affirmative declaration of women’s rights in United States history. The Declaration of Sentiments, which Elizabeth Cady Stanton modeled after the Declaration of Independence, was the framework for the women’s suffrage movement, as it argued for equal rights for women and men. Frederick Douglass, who was among the 32 men and 68 women who signed the document, described it as the “grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”

Today is also a day to reflect. While the Declaration of Sentiments was written in 1848, much of its text still remains relevant today. Women remain underrepresented at every level of government, meaning that they must still “submit to laws, in the formation of which [they] had no voice.” Men still remain in control of the majority of “profitable employments” - for example, only four percent of the CEOs of fortune 500 companies are women. The average woman receives 83 cents for every dollar made by a man - a “scanty remuneration.” There is still a “different code of morals for men and women,” especially in politics, where women are vilified for “abandoning” their family responsibilities while men face no such criticism.

While we celebrate how far we have come since the women of Seneca Falls came together to assert their rights, we must recognize that we remain far from the ideal that they pictured. We still have work to do.

To dig deeper into the relevance of the Declaration of Sentiments today, we interviewed some insightful women over at Running Start. Check out the video here.

Find the text of the Declaration of Sentiments here.

 

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