1900 – 1949

1900 –  Canada – Married Women’s Property Act – the wife is seen as jointly responsible with the husband for the support of children. The term support may include services and child-rearing

1900 – US- A mother’s pension is instituted for widowed women so they do not have to leave young children and enter the paid labor force.

1902 – Australia gives women the vote

1905 – England – Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney are arrested for  unfurling a ‘Votes for Women ‘banner and causing a disturbance. They accept a prison sentence rather than paying a fine. Emmeline Pankhurst ,mother of Christabel, joins with her daughter to form the Women’s Political and Social Union

1906 – Finland gives women the vote and the next year permits women to serve in Parliament

1907 – US -Julia Ward Howe argues that women deserve higher education and roles in public life and that women are especially gifted in helping others. She says that raising children expands a woman’s potential for happiness

1907- Italy – Maria Montessori in Rome organizes a small school for children who have been left unsupervised in a tenement.  She designs material to develop the senses, language, reading, writing so children can learn by exploration and naturally.

1908 – US-Ann Jarvis arranges a church service to honor mothers in West Virginia and a Mother’s Day International Association is formed in 1912. It was made an official US holiday by Congress in 1914 and Canada and Australia follow the US tradition of the second Sunday in May being Mother’s Day. In the UK it is held exactly 3 weeks before Easter Sunday. In Costa Rica it is August 15th and in Georgia is it March 3rd.

1908 – US – Father’s Day was celebrated in the US to parallel Mother’s Day. One  Father’s Day celebration July 5th was to honor fathers killed in a mining disaster in West Virginia in 1907.  In 1910 the YMCA held a Father’s Day to celebrate William Jackson Smart, a single parent who had raised 6 children. Other attempts to have an event were made but it was Harry Meek who in 1915 promoted a national day.

1911 -US- a mother’s pension was instituted for widowed women so they could still be home with their children.  Illinois recommends that children of parents of worthy character, suffering from temporary misfortune and children of reasonable efficient and deserving mothers who are without support of the normal breadwinner.  .should be kept with their parents, such aid being given as may be necessary to maintain suitable homes for the rearing of children. The state pays so mom can be home. In 2002 the state takes care of the kids and mom has to leave the home to earn money

1911 – Canada -Marion Crane in “Women in Canada” argues that domesticity is work and that women who do not get decent working conditions should have the right to leave and men or husband.

1913 – UK – H. M. Swanwick in “The Future of the Women’s Movement” says that women’s equality involves equal opportunities to do the things women want to do and includes in this ‘their peculiarly feminine work, the work which men cannot do’. For such work she argues for more help, more training and more expenditure of public money.

1914 –Sweden –  Ellen Key in “The Renaissance of Motherhood” says a professional paid caregiver is not as good as the natural mother who is more attentive to the child’s development and who provides greater emotional support

1914 – US – President Wilson proclaims the first Mother’s Day to honor the work done by all mothers. Anna Jarvis has argued for such a recognition to bring families together after the Civil War.

1915 –US – Theodora Youmans of the Woman’s Suffrage Association notes with anger government claims that women in the home don’ work, saying”he assumption that women however hard they work in the household do not support themselves but are supported by their husbands, that they earn nothing and own nothing – that assumption upon which all our property laws are based is so abominable that I cannot find words to express my opinion of it”

1915 – Denmark- women get the right to vote

1915- Canada – Nellie McClung in “In Times Like These” argues that no home can be happy when the poor mother is too tired to smile. She argues for help with chores so women can have the time and strength to raise their children. She notes’ We hear too much about the burden of motherhood and too little of its benefits” (she addresses the distinction between housework and child-rearing responsibilities). McClung also notes that many women are too self-effacing and do not claim their rights, saying “Women who set a low value on themselves make life hard for all women”  McClung argues for old age pensions, mothers’ allowances and public health nursing with free medical and dental treatment in schools.

1916 – Canada – Marjory MacMurchy in “The Woman Bless Her” says that homemaking and raising children have economic and social value. She notes “Although note yet recognized as occupations by the census, the two most important women employments are homemaking and the care of children”

1916 –Canada – Single mothers are given a small allowance in some Canadian provinces

1916- Canada -Manitoba passes the Mothers’ Allowance Act – If a father is absent due to jail term, death, disability or insanity, the state provides funding so the mother can still be home to raise the children. Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and Ontario soon after pass similar legislation

1917 – Canada – By the Wartime Elections Act the vote was given to women who had close relatives in the armed services

1917- Women get the vote in Estonia, Latvia, Ukrainian People’s Republic, Uruguay, Lithuania

1918 – Britain –  Women win the vote if they are over 30 and own property.  8 ½ million British women are thereby eligible to vote, but few take advantage of the right at first.

1918 – Canada – an income tax deduction is created for employees with dependent spouses (this is a shift from the assumption employers offer a family wage. It also is gender neutral. However the term’ dependent’ suggests the unpaid spouse is not contributing anything, even services)

1918 – Britain – Marie writes “Wise Parenthood” advocating birth control. Marie Sanger in “Family Limitation” advocating birth control was charged with disseminating obscene literature.

1918 – Canada -Women in Canada (except in Quebec) get the right to vote

1918 – Canada – Many employers pay an allowance to married but not single employees, instead of a general wage allowance. This fund helps pay for family-related expenses. Later employers were required to pay into a fund that was used to help pay birth bonuses, nursing allowances and family allowance.

1918 – Women get the right to vote in Hungary, Germany, Poland. Women over age 30 can vote in Trinidad.

1918- Canada – by the Child Tax Exemption some costs of child-rearing were recognized, as was the social value of parenting

1919 – Britain – the British National Bureau of Economic Research defines income in the market economy as requiring money to change hands but it does estimate the value of food produced in the home. There is however omission of unpaid labor .

1920- Austria –  Dr. Sigmund Freud was also writing, about his theories of unconscious desires and dreams and bringing them to the conscious level. His work on the ego, id and superego spread in the 1920s and  looked at the human brain as far from a blank slate.


1920s -US – women in all US states get the right to vote. Other nations permit female suffrage often at first for property owners, taxpayers, or if literate. Generally indigenous women are given the vote later, single women are given the vote before married women, and women are permitted to vote sooner in local elections than in national ones.

1920 – Canada –  in Alberta under the Infants Act – for the first time mothers as well as fathers become joint and equal guardians of their children. In Saskatchewan mothers are automatic guardians of children under age 14 and fathers are guardians of children over age 14

1920 –  Canada a mother’s allowance is established in many provinces but only for mothers in distress.

1920 –US – by the 19th Amendment, women get the right to vote

1920 – Canada – Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen in “Should Husbands Pay Their Wives Salaries?” writes that the homemaking work of a wife increases a man’s earning capacity and that she is in effect his ‘business partner’. She lobbies government to declare a wife an equal partner in a marriage, with a definite income. The National Council of Canada debates the issue.

1921 – Belgium  – the League of Families is organized to help low income families get child allowances, cheap loans, better housing and reduced cost for public transport

1922- Canada- Alberta’s Married Women’s Act for the first time gives some women absolute independence in their own financial and legal dealings

1923 –US –  an amendment to the constitution to give ‘equality of rights’ to women, the Equal Rights Amendment, is introduced but not passed.

1923- US –  Arnold Gesell writes “The Preschool Child” emphasizing early childhood as a pivotal time for education

1923 –  Canada- By the Bank Law the amount of money a married woman could deposit was raised to a maximum of $2,000.

1923 – The League of Nations passes a 5 part Declaration on the Rights of the Child

in Geneva. It is framed by Eglantyne Jebb 

1924- Spain- single women and widows can vote in local elections

1925- Italy- women can vote in local elections only

1925- Canada  – Agnes MacPhail, Member of Parliament, states that women must be given economic freedom within the home.  (the mechanism of such recognition varies. Some argue for salaries for wives)

1926 – Switzerland – Jean Piaget analyzes four stages of development of children from zero to 15 years in his book  “The Language and Thought of the Child”. He draws attention to the windows of learning of early childhood

1926-30 New Zealand has a minimum salary to cover expenses of the earner supporting a family with two children. Extra bonuses are given for more than two children.

1928 US  – psychologist Dr. John Watson  writes ” Psychological Care of Infant and Child” saying that science can be used to raise a child particularly efficiently and that mothers may not have any particular expertise at the task. He urges parents to not hug or kiss their children and that children be programmed to fit into the culture. Pavlov had done conditionning experiments along with those of B. F. Skinner and the idea spread that children learn emotions mostly by conditionning. 

1928- UK – women get the right to vote

1929 – US  Home economist Hildegard Kneeland observes that letting women enter the paid professions with men did not solve the dilemma back home of requiring homemakers to be financially dependent,

1930 – US – W. K. Kellogg, facing Depression and trying to keep his cereal company alive, shifted the three daily 8 hour shifts at his Battle Creek, Michigan plant to four six hour shifts. In that way he was able to hire 30 % more people albeit for shorter shifts. This reduced the city unemployment rate significantly. He also paid his workers who now did 6 hours shifts, as if they had done 7, for the first year and by the second year he was able to return them to pay as if  for 8 hours for the 6 hours.  With new technology and the new schedule, productivity went up.  In 1932 the US Department of Labor interviewed some of Kellogg’s workers and found that many preferred having a six hour shift  because it gave them more time for ‘family activities and home duties and leisure’. One woman said she was able to get her housework out of the way and still have time to read, walk and write.  Others spoke of their sons opening up to talk more freely, and of feeling that the increase in family time made them better parents. One man wrote that the six hour shift let his Dad be with his four boys at ages when it mattered.  In the 1940s a survey found that the clubs, churches, community service and amateur sports also were thriving with the 6 hour shifts. In the second world war President Roosevelt mandated a longer work week but in 1945 when the war ended, staff at Kellogg’s again voted to return to the shorter shift. One worker said  ” I need the extra money but I need the time at home more,” 

1930- France- Women’s Civic and Social Union is founded  – l’Union  Feminine Civique et Sociale – to make the public aware of the problems raised by the dual responsibilities of paid work and caregiving. It asks for there to be a free choice for mothers between paid work and home responsibilities and lobbies the French government to provided family allowances and particular benefits for mothers at home who have no other income. A wage allowance is paid to encourage mothers to remain at home to care for their children, to recognize la mere au foyer. A family wage is instituted to ensure men can afford to support a wife and children at home.

1930 –Canada-  married women were for the first time allowed the right to control their own wages and not have to consult with their husbands

1930 – France- a wage allowance is paid to encourage mothers to remain at home to care for their children. It is to recognize ‘la mere au foyer”

1930- US – Social Security Act Aid to Dependent Children- provides funds for children of deceased soldiers so that their mothers can remain home to raise them

1930 – Sweden -Social democrats designed a welfare state to ensure security against hardship in the case of accident illness, unemployment and in old age

1930- US – Social Security Act Aid to Dependent Children- provides funds for children of deceased soldiers so that their mothers can remain home to raise them

1933 – first International Congress of the Women’s Civil and Social Union is held to discuss how to reconcile paid work and unpaid care work in the home

1933 –45 –US -nurseries are funded to encourage women to enter the paid work force during the Depression

1935 – US – a Social Security Act is passed help families with dependent children

1938- the League of Nations tallies numbers who are gainfully employed and ignores housework

1939- Women have won the right to vote in Ecuador, Belgium, El Salvador and the Philippines

1939 –  US – Child care centers are set up to encourage women to join the paid labor force during the war. Women are encouraged to work in defense plants.

1940 – US – Harriet Stanton Blatch in ‘Challenging Years’ argues that motherhood should be given an endowment

1940 – Canada –  Unemployment Insurance Act keeps benefits at 50% of the lowest paying job in order to encourage recipients to re-enter paid work soon. This low rate proves a problem for those with health challenges and unable to do paid work. The amount is raised in 1971 to 2/3 of the  wage

1940- UK- John Bowlby, psychiatrist, argues that each child should have a warm and continuous relationship with the same one caregiver, usually the mother.

1940s – US – Betty Friedan observes that it was suddenly common to blame a mother’s influence for every case history of the troubled child becoming as adult alcoholic or suicidal,  schizophrenic,psychopathic, neurotic, impotent

1940s- Women get the right to vote in Panama, Dominican Republic, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Venezuela, Chile

1941 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights- views the family as the fundamental element of society

1941-46 – US – The Lunham Act War Nurseries – while husbands are at war, women are recruited to work in defense plants and nurseries are provided for their children

1943 – Canada – the Marsh Report  suggests that children deserve social security. It recommends that family allowance be universal so children have the basics of shoes and clothing and to give parents leeway to make decisions about expenditures. Charlotte Whitton argues that family allowance should not go to the poor and that benefits should not be cash, but rather low-cost housing and health care.

1944 – Poland -Dr. Janusz Korczak observes that children are one third of the population and deserve one third of the budget. He is killed in a concentration camp.

1944 – Canada passes its first universal social program – the Family Allowance Act, recognizing caregiving in the home /Family allowance was started as an alternative to raising the general level of wages and to ease the transition from war to peace in terms of a family’s purchasing power.   The Earl of Athlone, Governor General says it is to aid in ensuring a minimum of well-being to the children of the nation and to help gain for them a closer approach to equality of opportunity in the battle of life.   The allowance was given to families with incomes under $1200 per year and amounted to $5 per child per month under age 6 and $8 per month for older children regardless. In Quebec the cheque originally was sent to fathers until pressure from Therese Casgrain forced the premier to change this so mothers got the cheque.

1945 – UK  -Gertrude Williams, economist, praised women who went home instead of being in the paid work force saying that rearing babies through happy health childhood to independent maturity is even more important than wiring airplanes

1945 –Britain- universal state Family Allowance is begun, paid to mothers, after a campaign led by Eleanor Rathbone

1946- UNICEF is formed to provide to relief to children after world war II

1946 -UN Commission on the Status of Women is established to eliminate discrimination against women and to promote equality with men in all fields.  A convention is adopted to protect maternity, to have employers allow mothers time for nursing breaks as part of the paid work day

1947 – UNESCO Congress –Women form a world association based on a Charter of the Mother advocating for rights of parenting including recognition of the instruction role of mothers in the home, and of the equality of women whose role is caregiving. The UN also adopts a convention concerning maternity protection and extends coverage to women wage earners working from home. It says employers must allow mothers time for nursing at paid work.

1947 – France- The World Movement of Mothers is established in 30 nations to emphasize the role of the mother in the life of the family and to recognize the importance of parenting.

1948 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by UN members, affirming the belief in the equal rights of men and women, the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society and the family as entitled to protection by the state.

1948- Canada – Ontario gives a Mothers’ Allowance to women who have been deserted over a year. The state helps with money and does not pressure the woman to leave the home to get paid work

1949- US – Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead in ‘Male and Female’ observes that women should be valued not only for work outside the home but also for work in it, noting when the home itself is undervalued then also women will cease to enjoy being women and men will neither envy nor value the female role

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