The fight for human rights is centuries old, whether it be during the American Revolution or the French Revolution. Many minorities have been stripped of their basic human rights; the freedom of life and liberty, to vote, and to live a basic life of decency.
We see that most of the times women have been subjugated as a whole; rights that men were given on a golden plate, women had to fight and struggle for. Such as the basic right to vote in a democratic state, the right to divorce or simply the right to enjoy the privileges given to men.
That is when the declarations were signed to make it absolutely official: basic human rights for men and women.
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Declaration of The Rights of Man Definition
The Declaration of The Rights of Man was signed on August 26th, 1789 in France. The French Constituent National Assembly signed the document, Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen) that defined the rights of a common man during the time of the French Revolution.
The French Revolution was a 10 years long struggle, from 1789 to 1799 where the revolutionary parties got together and stormed the prison of Bastille. The revolution was aimed to achieve long term goals for the lower class of France, and it came to an end when Napoleon overthrew the revolutionary government and established the French Consulate with him as the leader.
Who wrote The Declaration of The Rights of Man?
The declaration of the rights of man was written by The Marquis de Lafayette, who composed the draft with the help of Thomas Jefferson. This was loosely based on the format of American Declaration of Independence, Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the American Bill of Rights which James Madison was simultaneously writing back in the United States.
The whole declaration was finalized and presented to the National Assembly on July 11th, 1789. A committee of some 40 deputies was appointed to decide on the declaration’s final form. Those deputies included Jean-Joseph Mounier, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, and Alexandre, count de Lameth. The draft was extensively revised before being adopted between August 20 and August 26, 1789.
Declaration of The Rights of Man Summary
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen has an introduction and 17 brief articles. The main article contains the document’s main articulation: ‘Men are born free and stay free and equal in rights.’ It expresses that the motivation behind political affiliation ought to be the conservation of these rights, specified as ‘freedom, property, security, and protection from persecution’.
It additionally announces that both power and law should originate from the ‘general will’. It protects the freedom of speech and practicing religion and sets up equivalent treatment under the watchful eye of the law. It additionally declares that taxes should be paid by all residents as per their methods. It filled in as the prelude to the Constitution of 1791.
The essential standard of the Declaration was that all ‘men are born free and stay free with equal rights’ (Article 1), which were determined as the privileges of freedom, private property, the inviolability of the individual, and protection from oppression (Article 2). All residents were equivalent under the law and were to reserve the privilege to participate in legal matters (Article 6); nobody was to be arrested without jurisdiction (Article 7). Opportunity of religion (Article 10) and the right to freedom of speech (Article 11) were defended inside the limits of public request and law.
The report mirrors the interests of the elites who composed it: property was given the status of a sacred right, which could be taken by the state just if a repayment were given (Article 17); offices and position were opened to all citizens(Article 6).
Despite the limitations of the writers of the Declaration, its standards (particularly Article 1) could be stretched out coherently to mean political and even social democracy. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen became, as was perceived by the nineteenth 19th century student of history Jules Michelet, ‘the credo of the new age’.
Declaration of The Rights of Woman
The declaration of the Rights of Man was signed in 1789 which protected the rights of all its citizens. However, somehow in these common rights, women were excluded. Thus, in reply to the declaration of the rights of man, the declaration of the rights of woman and the female citizen was written by Olympe de Gouges in 1791 in France.
It was written to highlight all the failures of the French Revolution in regards to gender inequality, and how women suffered as a result because their basic rights were being ignored. This manifesto emphasized on the fact that women were equal to men and that they deserved the same citizenship rights as their male counterparts.
Olympe de Gouges was a French activist and one of the most prominent figures in the time of the French Revolution, who gave women a voice that was previously pressured down by men. Known to be one of the first feminist campaingers, she fought for women for the right to divorce and end slavery, and soon died for her cause.
Following the preface, Gouges included 17 articles laying out the essential rights for women, including the privilege to freedom, property, security, and protection from oppression; the right to participate in legal matters and governance, to one side to partake at all degrees of government; and the right to freedom of speech.
Article 11 gives the right to women to openly declare the father of her children and to also pass the property down to them. This was one of the most controversial clauses which gave equal responsibility and equal accountability to men who gave birth to children outside of wedlock, saying that they were equally responsible for children such as fathers in a marriage.
Article 15 gives women the right to tax related purposes and Article 17 gives women the right to property regardless of their marital status. This declaration outlined some of the major points where women were being denied their rights, however, the impact of this declaration was short lived.
History is full of examples of such movements which are led to give men and women basic rights, and often documents and declarations were signed to make them official. These are signed and published for the public to note the manifesto and to rightfully punish the ones that do not follow it.
The declaration of the rights of man and the declaration of the rights of woman were two very important declarations signed only two years apart during the French Revolution. Their impact may be short lived, but in the long run they have really defined the spaces given to men and women alike.