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6 Creative Women’s Rebellions That Worked

Women have been shaking things up and creating real change all over the world for as long as the patriarchy’s existed. It’s a powerful thing when we put our minds together and speak out against oppression. Just look at these examples for proof and motivation.

1. Washerwoman Strike
In 1881, thousands of black laundresses working in Atlanta, GA, went on strike for higher pay. It began as a small protest of 20 women and quickly grew to 2,000, thereby inspiring cooks, maids, and nurses to demand higher pay as well. The city caved, granting the women the wages they deserved.

2.Australian Pub Protest
Women in Australia weren’t allowed to drink in bars (the few pubs that accepted female patrons forced them to sit in a separate area and frequently charged them more). But in 1965, Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner marched into a pub and ordered a drink. When the barman denied them, the women chained themselves to the bar for the night, prompting a change in the law.

3.Liberian Sex Strike
In 2003, after 14 years of violent civil war, women in Liberia decided they’d had enough. That’s when Leymah Gbowee mobilized women to peacefully protest with sit-ins, public demonstrations, and… a sex strike, meaning they purposefully abstained from getting it on with their partners. Their actions inspired the warring parties to negotiate a peace deal and paved the way for the country’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

4.Applebee’s Lactation Sit-In
It’s illegal in Kentucky to ask a woman to cover up while breastfeeding, but that didn’t stop an Applebee’s manager from asking Brooke Ryan to put a blanket over her breasts while she was feeding her child. So in 2007, she organized a “Nurse-In,” with hundreds of women breastfeeding uncovered at more than 30 locations of the restaurant chain throughout the country, causing Applebee’s to immediately say that all nursing moms are welcome.

5.Polish Abortion Demonstrations
Last year, Polish legislators proposed a law that would completely ban abortion, even in cases of rape and threat to the mother’s life. In protest, on October 3, women across the country refused to go to work or do household chores, shutting down businesses, schools, and government offices for the day. Thousands of women dressed in black and marched in the streets, shocking politicians who immediately did an about-face and voted down the ban.

6.Iceland Wage Gap Strike
Despite being an incredibly progressive country, Iceland still lags behind on equal pay. So on October 24th, 2016, women walked out of work at exactly 2:38 p.m. (when 72 percent of the workday was finished) to symbolize the amount women are paid in comparison to men. Although nothing concrete has been passed, the government has pledged to make closing the gap a top priority.

women’s movements that forced change