138 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics

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Women’s rights essays are an excellent way to learn about the situation of the female gender throughout the world and demonstrate your knowledge.

You can cover historical women’s rights essay topics, such as the evolution of girl child education in various countries and regions or the different waves of the feminism movement.

Alternatively, you can study more current topics, such as the status of women in Islam or the debate about whether women’s rights apply to transgender women.

In either case, there is a multitude of ideas that you can express and discuss in your paper to make it engaging and thought-provoking. However, you should not neglect the basic aspects of writing an essay, especially its structure and presentation.

The thesis statement is critical to your essay’s structure, as it has to be at the center of each point you make. It should state the overall message or question of your paper comprehensively but concisely at the same time.

Afterwards, every point you make should directly or indirectly support the claim or answer the question, and you should make the relationship explicit for better clarity.

It is good practice to make the thesis a single sentence that does not rely on context, being fully self-sufficient, but avoids being excessively long.

As such, writing a good thesis is a challenging task that requires care and practice. Do not be afraid to spend additional time writing the statement and refining it.

It is beneficial to have a framework of how you will arrange topics and formulate your points so that they flow into one another and support the central thesis before you begin writing.

The practice will help you arrange transitional words and make the essay more coherent and connected as opposed to being an assortment of loosely associated statements.

To that end, you should write an outline, which deserves a separate discussion. However, the basics are simple: write down all of the ideas you want to discuss, discard the worst or fold them into other, broader topics until you have a handful left, and organize those in a logical progression.

Here are some additional tips for your structuring process:

  • Frame the ideas in your outline using self-explanatory and concise women’s rights essay titles. You can then use them to separate different points in your essay with titles that correspond to outline elements. The outline itself will effectively become a table of contents, saving you time if one is necessary.
  • Try to keep the discussion of each topic self-contained, without much reference to other matters you discussed in the essay. If there is a significant relationship, you should devote a separate section to it.
  • Do not forget to include an introduction and a conclusion in your paper. The introduction familiarizes the reader with the topic and ends with your thesis statement, setting the tone and direction of the essay. The conclusion sums up what you have written and adds some concluding remarks to finish. The introduction should not contain facts and examples beyond what is common knowledge in the field. The conclusion may not introduce new information beyond what has been stated in the essay.

You can find excellent women’s rights essay examples, useful samples, and more helpful tips on writing your essay at IvyPanda, so visit whenever you are having trouble or would like advice!

  • Women’s Rights in the 21st Century: Education and Politics The lack of equity in the specified areas affect women’s lives on range of levels, depriving them of the opportunities that they are supposed to be entitled to and posing a tangible threat to the […]
  • Women’s Rights and Gender Inequality in Saudi Arabia Indeed, it is crucial to understand the importance of women’s rights, see the connections between the past, the present, the local, and the global, and realize how political and media discourse represents the social issue […]
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  • Saudi Arabian Women’s Right to Drive: Pros and Cons The objective of this paper is to present the arguments from both sides of the discussion on the issue of whether women should be able to drive legally in Saudi Arabia.
  • Foot Binding in China in Terms of Women’s Rights The practice of foot binding in China can be traced back to the Sung Dynasty that prevailed between 960-1280 AD, supposedly as an imitation of an imperial concubine who was required to perform a dance […]
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  • Women’s Rights in the Muslim World Ahmed first focuses on the gender pattern in the Middle East prior to the emergence of the Islam in order to gain ground to describe the Islamic doctrine on women that were practiced in the […]
  • “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” by Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton’s speech about women’s rights effectively convinces her audience that women rights are an indispensable part of human rights through the use of logical argument, repetition, historical facts, and emotional stories.
  • Utilitarian Permissive Concept for Women’s Right to Choose Abortion Utilitarians believe that the right to choose abortion should be protected under the law as a matter of justice since a woman should have the right to make decisions concerning her own body and health.
  • Women’s Rights: Democratic Perceptions Therefore, it is proper to claim that women would not be able to exercise their rights and freedoms as frequently without the efforts of Democrats.
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  • Abortion and Women’s Right to Control Their Bodies However, the decision to ban abortions can be viewed as illegal, unethical, and contradicting the values of the 21st century. In such a way, the prohibition of abortion is a serious health concern leading to […]
  • The Women’s Rights Movement and Indigenous People In this article, the author addresses the differences between the Euro-American and Native American societies and the role of women in them.
  • The Texas Abortion Law: A Signal of War on Women’s Rights and Bodies The purpose of this paper is to examine the structure and implications of the Texas Abortion Law in order to demonstrate its flaws.
  • Women’s Rights and Reform Impulses The reform impulses altered women’s place in society, making them equal to men in the ability to speak publicly, pursue their liberty, and attain their goals.
  • The Evolution of Women’s Rights Through American History From the property-owning women of the late 18th century to the proponents of the women’s liberation in the 1960s, women always succeeded in using the influential political theories of their time to eventually make feminist […]
  • Invisible Southern Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement Based on 36 personal interviews and multiple published and archived sources, the author demonstrates that black women in the South have played a prominent role in the struggle for their rights.
  • Injustices Women Faced in Quest for Equal Rights The source Alice Paul depicts the numerous contributions that she and her fellow suffragists made to the new rights of women.
  • Catharine Beecher and Women’s Rights Catharine Beecher’s “An Appeal to American Women” is a discussion kind of piece that considers the power of women in office and how the issue should be approached.
  • The Aftermath of the Progression of Women’s Rights Period At the end of the 1800s and the beginning of 1900s, women’s organizations and women struggled for social reforms, to gain the right to vote, and for diverse political and economic equality.
  • Lucy Parsons as a Women’s Rights Advocate and Her Beliefs She was a believer in anarchism and thought that it was the means to liberty and freedom. She wanted the constitution to be amended to say that men and women are equal in all aspects.
  • Women in Islam: Some Rights, No Equality Notwithstanding the principles of equality of men and women in Islamic tradition, women’s low status should be attributed not to the ideals set in the Quran but to the cultural norms of the patriarchal society.
  • Primary Source on Women’s Voting Rights The combination of statements that degrade the image of suffragettes and suffrage and quotes of leaders’ opinions is a way for the editor to influence the audience.
  • Syrian Conflict and Women Rights: Way to Equality or Another Discrimination The main reason for a low percentage of women in the workforce is Syrian social norms, which stereotypically reflect the role of women in homes serving their husbands and in the private sector.
  • Movement for Women’s Rights in Great Britain and the United States This essay analytically explores some of the conditions which helped bring about movement for women’s right in Great Britain and United States before the close of the last century. In addition, the most significant demand […]
  • Shirin Ebadi’s Perspective on Women’s Human Rights Activism and Islam It is worth noting that Shirin Ebadi’s self-identity as an Iranian woman and a Muslim empowers her experience and perspective in women’s rights activism.
  • Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights In other instants, women in the struggle for civil rights can also file a case in a court of law demanding the lawmakers to enact some policies of which they feel when passed will protect […]
  • The Success of Women’s Rights Movement They sought the equal treatment of women and men by law and fought for voting rights. The women’s rights movement was successful because they were united, had a strong ideological foundation, and organized campaigns on […]
  • Refugee Women and Their Human Rights According to the researches have been made by UNHCR, 1998, found that 80% of the refugees immigrating to the United States and other countries of second asylum are women or children.
  • Women’s Rights Movement in the 19th Century In this paper, the peculiarities of women’s suffrage, its political and social background, and further reactions will be discussed to clarify the worth and impact of the chosen event.
  • Advocating for Women’s Employment Rights in the UAE and Saudi Arabia The position of women in the societies of the UAE and Saudi Arabia is a cause for endless controversy. Public relations between women and men are limited in the given countries, and women are required […]
  • Women Rights: New Data and Movements For example, whereas the women’s health rights movement is a global affair, the fact that events related to the movement are mainly held in the US means that other countries do not feel the impact […]
  • Women’s Rights in Palestine and Neighboring Countries In a review of relevant literature, women’s rights in Palestine can be compared to women’s rights in three neighboring countries Jordan, Egypt, and Israel from the perspective of violence and discrimination, and specific differences, including […]
  • Planned Parenthood and Women’s Rights It took decades for the government to acknowledge the necessity of the services offered in these clinics and even longer for the public to accept a woman’s right to reproductive health care, the establishment of […]
  • Understanding Women’s Right in Islamic World The role of women in the Islamic society during and soon after the death of Prophet Mohammed was similar to that of men.
  • Arab Spring’s Impact on Women’s Rights and Security The aim of the research is to define the effects that the Arab Spring has had on the perception of women in the Arab society.
  • Women’s Rights Since Pre-History to 1600 A.D In this regard, most women from the medieval times could determine their social and political destiny, but the responsibility to others mainly rested on the men.
  • Women’s Fight for Equal Human Rights According to the readings assigned, the term feminist could be used to refer to people who fought for the rights of women.
  • Women in New France: Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities However, the development of New France was quite distinct due to peculiarities of the gender roles in the North America and France.
  • Women’s Family and Social Responsibilities and Rights The uniqueness of Addams and Sanger’s approach to discussing the rights of females is in the fact that these authors discuss any social responsibilities of women as the key to improving their roles in the […]
  • Women’s Rights in the Great Depression Period The pursuit of the workplace equality and the protection of women from unfair treatment by the employers were quite unsuccessful and slow due to the major division in the opinions.
  • Women’s Roles and Rights in the 18-19th Century America We can only do the simplest work; we cannot have a good job because that is the men’s domain, and they have the necessary training to do it.
  • Debate Over Women’s Rights At times, the problem is that there is bias and discrimination about the strength of the woman and no chance has ever been given to them to prove if the allegation is wrong.
  • The Women of the Veil: Gaining Rights and Freedoms The author chides the activities of the Western colonies in Afghanistan in restoring the rights of the women of the veil.
  • The Role of African American Women in the Civil Right Movement The role of women in the Civil Rights Movement started to change in the 1960s. Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers.
  • Hip-Hop Music and the Role of Women in It: Fight for Women’s Rights in Society While looking at the various roles of women in hip hop and rap, it is also important to note that the way women are presented has various effects on society.
  • Gender Studies: Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia This paper will review the a issue of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia from the perspective of four different groups including the modern Saudi women, traditional Saudi women, Government officials, and international women’s rights organizations.
  • African-American Women and the Civil Rights Movement The key factors that left the Black women unrecognized or led to recognition of just a few of them as leaders are class, race and gender biases.
  • Temperance, Women’s Rights, Education, Antislavery and Prison Reform: New Objectives, New Concerns Among the most memorable reforms of that time, the innovations in the system of treating the convicts and the prisoners must be the reform that reflected the very essence of the XIX-century social ideas.
  • The Opportunity to Succeed as Women Entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia Compared With UK In addition, it is through the small businesses that new products and services are being developed to meet the growing needs of the population in the entire Kingdom.
  • Women’s Rights – Contribution of E. Cady Stanton and S.B. Anthony The first significant and most important move was made by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, on the other hand, was born in a Quaker family and her father was also quite a successful […]
  • Oppression of Women’s Rights Affects the Economy of the Middle East For instance in Iceland, the high level of quality of life and health is one of the factors that lead to a GDP per capita of $54,291 On the contrary, there are situations where women […]
  • Reform-Women’s Rights and Slavery The colonizers felt that the movement was threatening their business and status in the society and began to ridicule and attack the families of the abolitionists.
  • Women’s Role in Contemporary Korea The effort of women to work in professional and high positions in different sectors, the government decided to boost their effort and maintain their morale.
  • Non Governmental Organization of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights Development and Peace In most cases the rights of women which are mainly suppressed include the right to own property, the right to work or hold a public office, the right of receiving education, the right to vote […]
  • Jane Cunningham Croly: Fighting for Women Rights The problem of women inequality with men had been considered in the society and Jane Cunningham Croly was one of those who wanted to contribute to the movement, and her journalistic activity was that measure.
  • Women’s Suffrage Discussion The entrenchment of equal rights of women and men and more noticeably the right of every American woman to vote came into being after the enactment of the nineteenth amendment.
  • Disclosing the Aspects of Female Authorship as Presented in Woolf’s Professions for Women and Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Right of Woman In their works called A Vindication of the Right of Woman and Professions of Women respectively, they express their vigorous desire to liberate women from the professional taboos to enter female authorship imposed by the […]
  • Power of Women’s Rights How the Anti-Slavery Movement Challenge Established Notions of Manhood and Womanhood Kathryn Kish Sklar’s general idea in the book is to enlighten people on the role of women in the society during the 19th century, […]
  • Afghan Women and Violation of Their Rights It is for this reason that the Taliban have been the party mostly blamed for the mistreatment of women in the country. The U.S.has the necessary resources to ensure that this is achieved therefore guaranteeing […]
  • Did Flappers Have a Positive Effect on Women’s Rights in America in the 1920s?
  • Abigail Adams’ Inspiring Rebellion for Women’s Rights
  • The Power of the Internet and Women’s Rights in Guatemala
  • Pencils and Bullets Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
  • Women’s Rights in Supreme Court Decisions of the 1960’s and 1970’s
  • Women’s Rights: A Path into the Society to Achieve Social Liberation
  • The Taliban: Deprivers of Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
  • Henrik Ibsen’s Description of Women’s Rights as Depicted in His Play, A Doll’s House
  • Perceptions on The Islamic Practice of Veiling: Relevance to the Quest for Women’s Rights
  • The Effects of Christianity on Women’s Rights in China
  • Women’s Rights in the 1920’s and Examples in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • Pornography and Feminist Fight for Women’s Rights
  • The Progression of Women’s Rights from the Early 20th Century
  • Islamic Head Scarf: Women’s Rights and Cultural Sensibilities
  • The Women’s Rights Movement in England: 18th Century and Beyond
  • Comparing Cultures: the Development of Women’s Rights in China and Saudi Arabia
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and the Early Women’s Rights Movement
  • The Progression of Women’s Rights in the Middle East
  • Elizabeth Stanton’s Impact on Women’s Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Women’s Rights and Their Importance to the Development of True Democracy
  • Women’s Rights Within A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Every Woman Has Her Day: The Women’s Rights Movement in 19th Century
  • Evolution of Women’s Rights Since 19th Century
  • Integrating Equality – Globalization, Women’s Rights, Son Preference and Human Trafficking
  • Analysis of the View of Opinions of Authors Advocating for Women’s Rights
  • Abolition of Slavery is Conducive to Women’s Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights Violations in Afghanistan
  • Feminism and Women’s Rights in Post Colonial Africa and France
  • Social Justice in America: Women’s Rights
  • Horace Walpole and Samuel Johnson, Champions of Women’s Rights
  • Muslims Women’s Rights to Practice Their Religion
  • Women’s Rights and Hills Like White Elephants
  • Rhetorical Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Speech, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
  • Euripides Support of Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights in Afghanistan 1996 to the Present
  • Women’s Rights & Their Impact on the Development of Iran
  • Women’s Rights Between 1750 and 1914
  • Exploring The Women’s Rights Movement With Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O´Conner
  • Progressive Era: The Era of Immigration, Race, and Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights in the United States in the 1700s
  • Which Countries Violate Women’s Rights?
  • What Was the Aim of the Women’s Movement?
  • How Did the Anti-Slavery Movement Contribute to the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • Who Were the 4 Main Leaders of the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • How Does Gender Inequality Affect Women’s Rights?
  • Who Fought for Women’s Right to Work?
  • What Was the Biggest Women’s Rights Movement?
  • What Are the Colors for Women’s Rights?
  • Why Women’s Rights Lost Ground at the End of World War Two?
  • What Is the Role of Lesbians in the Women’s Movement?
  • How Far Women’s Rights Have Come?
  • What Laws Help Women’s Rights?
  • How Were the Abolition and Women’s Rights Movements Similar?
  • What Are the Most Important Events in Women’s Rights History?
  • Who Is Responsible for Women’s Rights?
  • What Is the History of Women’s Rights?
  • What Were 3 Major Events in the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • How Margaret Fuller and Fanny Fern Used Writing as a Weapon for Women’s Rights?
  • How Did Race Impact African American Women’s Experiences During the Women’s Suffrage Movement?
  • What Was the Cause of the First Woman’s Rights Convention?
  • Why Is Education Important for Women’s Rights?
  • How Are Women’s Rights Linked to Economic Development?
  • When Did the Women’s Rights Movement Start and End?
  • Why Did the Women’s Rights Movement Emerge in the USA During the 1950S and 1960S?
  • What Are Women’s Cultural Rights?
  • Who Was the First Black Women’s Rights Activist?
  • When Was the First Female Vote?
  • What Was the Movement for Women’s Rights in the 1800S?
  • Who Was the Black Woman Who Fought for Women’s Rights?
  • Who Was the Biggest Women’s Rights Activist?
  • Civil Rights Movement Questions
  • Gender Inequality Research Topics
  • Women’s Suffrage Essay Ideas
  • Childbirth Titles
  • Gender Discrimination Research Topics
  • Motherhood Ideas
  • Personal Identity Paper Topics
  • Reproductive Health Essay Titles
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A global story

This piece is part of 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series . In this essay series, Brookings scholars, public officials, and other subject-area experts examine the current state of gender equality 100 years after the 19th Amendment was adopted to the U.S. Constitution and propose recommendations to cull the prevalence of gender-based discrimination in the United States and around the world.

The year 2020 will stand out in the history books. It will always be remembered as the year the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the globe and brought death, illness, isolation, and economic hardship. It will also be noted as the year when the death of George Floyd and the words “I can’t breathe” ignited in the United States and many other parts of the world a period of reckoning with racism, inequality, and the unresolved burdens of history.

The history books will also record that 2020 marked 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment in America, intended to guarantee a vote for all women, not denied or abridged on the basis of sex.

This is an important milestone and the continuing movement for gender equality owes much to the history of suffrage and the brave women (and men) who fought for a fairer world. Yet just celebrating what was achieved is not enough when we have so much more to do. Instead, this anniversary should be a galvanizing moment when we better inform ourselves about the past and emerge more determined to achieve a future of gender equality.

Australia’s role in the suffrage movement

In looking back, one thing that should strike us is how international the movement for suffrage was though the era was so much less globalized than our own.

For example, how many Americans know that 25 years before the passing of the 19th Amendment in America, my home of South Australia was one of the first polities in the world to give men and women the same rights to participate in their democracies? South Australia led Australia and became a global leader in legislating universal suffrage and candidate eligibility over 125 years ago.

This extraordinary achievement was not an easy one. There were three unsuccessful attempts to gain equal voting rights for women in South Australia, in the face of relentless opposition. But South Australia’s suffragists—including the Women’s Suffrage League and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, as well as remarkable women like Catherine Helen Spence, Mary Lee, and Elizabeth Webb Nicholls—did not get dispirited but instead continued to campaign, persuade, and cajole. They gathered a petition of 11,600 signatures, stuck it together page by page so that it measured around 400 feet in length, and presented it to Parliament.

The Constitutional Amendment (Adult Suffrage) Bill was finally introduced on July 4, 1894, leading to heated debate both within the houses of Parliament, and outside in society and the media. Demonstrating that some things in Parliament never change, campaigner Mary Lee observed as the bill proceeded to committee stage “that those who had the least to say took the longest time to say it.” 1

The Bill finally passed on December 18, 1894, by 31 votes to 14 in front of a large crowd of women.

In 1897, Catherine Helen Spence became the first woman to stand as a political candidate in South Australia.

South Australia’s victory led the way for the rest of the colonies, in the process of coming together to create a federated Australia, to fight for voting rights for women across the entire nation. Women’s suffrage was in effect made a precondition to federation in 1901, with South Australia insisting on retaining the progress that had already been made. 2 South Australian Muriel Matters, and Vida Goldstein—a woman from the Australian state of Victoria—are just two of the many who fought to ensure that when Australia became a nation, the right of women to vote and stand for Parliament was included.

Australia’s remarkable progressiveness was either envied, or feared, by the rest of the world. Sociologists and journalists traveled to Australia to see if the worst fears of the critics of suffrage would be realised.

In 1902, Vida Goldstein was invited to meet President Theodore Roosevelt—the first Australian to ever meet a U.S. president in the White House. With more political rights than any American woman, Goldstein was a fascinating visitor. In fact, President Roosevelt told Goldstein: “I’ve got my eye on you down in Australia.” 3

Goldstein embarked on many other journeys around the world in the name of suffrage, and ran five times for Parliament, emphasising “the necessity of women putting women into Parliament to secure the reforms they required.” 4

Muriel Matters went on to join the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom. In 1908 she became the first woman to speak in the British House of Commons in London—not by invitation, but by chaining herself to the grille that obscured women’s views of proceedings in the Houses of Parliament. After effectively cutting her off the grille, she was dragged out of the gallery by force, still shouting and advocating for votes for women. The U.K. finally adopted women’s suffrage in 1928.

These Australian women, and the many more who tirelessly fought for women’s rights, are still extraordinary by today’s standards, but were all the more remarkable for leading the rest of the world.

A shared history of exclusion

Of course, no history of women’s suffrage is complete without acknowledging those who were excluded. These early movements for gender equality were overwhelmingly the remit of privileged white women. Racially discriminatory exclusivity during the early days of suffrage is a legacy Australia shares with the United States.

South Australian Aboriginal women were given the right to vote under the colonial laws of 1894, but they were often not informed of this right or supported to enroll—and sometimes were actively discouraged from participating.

They were later further discriminated against by direct legal bar by the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act, whereby Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were excluded from voting in federal elections—a right not given until 1962.

Any celebration of women’s suffrage must acknowledge such past injustices front and center. Australia is not alone in the world in grappling with a history of discrimination and exclusion.

The best historical celebrations do not present a triumphalist version of the past or convey a sense that the fight for equality is finished. By reflecting on our full history, these celebrations allow us to come together, find new energy, and be inspired to take the cause forward in a more inclusive way.

The way forward

In the century or more since winning women’s franchise around the world, we have made great strides toward gender equality for women in parliamentary politics. Targets and quotas are working. In Australia, we already have evidence that affirmative action targets change the diversity of governments. Since the Australian Labor Party (ALP) passed its first affirmative action resolution in 1994, the party has seen the number of women in its national parliamentary team skyrocket from around 14% to 50% in recent years.

Instead of trying to “fix” women—whether by training or otherwise—the ALP worked on fixing the structures that prevent women getting preselected, elected, and having fair opportunities to be leaders.

There is also clear evidence of the benefits of having more women in leadership roles. A recent report from Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) at King’s College London, shows that where women are able to exercise political leadership, it benefits not just women and girls, but the whole of society.

But even though we know how to get more women into parliament and the positive difference they make, progress toward equality is far too slow. The World Economic Forum tells us that if we keep progressing as we are, the global political empowerment gender gap—measuring the presence of women across Parliament, ministries, and heads of states across the world— will only close in another 95 years . This is simply too long to wait and, unfortunately, not all barriers are diminishing. The level of abuse and threatening language leveled at high-profile women in the public domain and on social media is a more recent but now ubiquitous problem, which is both alarming and unacceptable.

Across the world, we must dismantle the continuing legal and social barriers that prevent women fully participating in economic, political, and community life.

Education continues to be one such barrier in many nations. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. With COVID-19-related school closures happening in developing countries, there is a real risk that progress on girls’ education is lost. When Ebola hit, the evidence shows that the most marginalized girls never made it back to school and rates of child marriage, teen pregnancy. and child labor soared. The Global Partnership for Education, which I chair, is currently hard at work trying to ensure that this history does not repeat.

Ensuring educational equality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for gender equality. In order to change the landscape to remove the barriers that prevent women coming through for leadership—and having their leadership fairly evaluated rather than through the prism of gender—we need a radical shift in structures and away from stereotypes. Good intentions will not be enough to achieve the profound wave of change required. We need hard-headed empirical research about what works. In my life and writings post-politics and through my work at the GIWL, sharing and generating this evidence is front and center of the work I do now.

GIWL work, undertaken in partnership with IPSOS Mori, demonstrates that the public knows more needs to be done. For example, this global polling shows the community thinks it is harder for women to get ahead. Specifically, they say men are less likely than women to need intelligence and hard work to get ahead in their careers.

Other research demonstrates that the myth of the “ideal worker,” one who works excessive hours, is damaging for women’s careers. We also know from research that even in families where each adult works full time, domestic and caring labor is disproportionately done by women. 5

In order to change the landscape to remove the barriers that prevent women coming through for leadership—and having their leadership fairly evaluated rather than through the prism of gender—we need a radical shift in structures and away from stereotypes.

Other more subtle barriers, like unconscious bias and cultural stereotypes, continue to hold women back. We need to start implementing policies that prevent people from being marginalized and stop interpreting overconfidence or charisma as indicative of leadership potential. The evidence shows that it is possible for organizations to adjust their definitions and methods of identifying merit so they can spot, measure, understand, and support different leadership styles.

Taking the lessons learned from our shared history and the lives of the extraordinary women across the world, we know evidence needs to be combined with activism to truly move forward toward a fairer world. We are in a battle for both hearts and minds.

Why this year matters

We are also at an inflection point. Will 2020 will be remembered as the year that a global recession disproportionately destroyed women’s jobs, while women who form the majority of the workforce in health care and social services were at risk of contracting the coronavirus? Will it be remembered as a time of escalating domestic violence and corporations cutting back on their investments in diversity programs?

Or is there a more positive vision of the future that we can seize through concerted advocacy and action? A future where societies re-evaluate which work truly matters and determine to better reward carers. A time when men and women forced into lockdowns re-negotiated how they approach the division of domestic labor. Will the pandemic be viewed as the crisis that, through forcing new ways of virtual working, ultimately led to more balance between employment and family life, and career advancement based on merit and outcomes, not presentism and the old boys’ network?

This history is not yet written. We still have an opportunity to make it happen. Surely the women who led the way 100 years ago can inspire us to seize this moment and create that better, more gender equal future.

  • December 7,1894: Welcome home meeting for Catherine Helen Spence at the Café de Paris. [ Register , Dec, 19, 1894 ]
  • Clare Wright, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World , (Text Publishing, 2018).
  • Janette M. Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman, (Melbourne University Press, 1993)
  • Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences, (Icon Books, 2010)

This piece is part of 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series.  Learn more about the series and read published work »

About the Author

Julia gillard, distinguished fellow – global economy and development, center for universal education.

Gillard is a distinguished fellow with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. She is the Inaugural Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London. Gillard also serves as Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, which is dedicated to expanding access to quality education worldwide and is patron of CAMFED, the Campaign for Female Education.

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John R. Allen and Vanda Felbab-Brown write that as peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban commence, uncertainty hangs over the fate of Afghan women and their rights.

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American Women: Topical Essays

American women: an overview.

  • Introduction
  • Marching for the Vote: Remembering the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913
  • Sentiments of an American Woman
  • The House That Marian Built: The MacDowell Colony of Peterborough, New Hampshire
  • Women On The Move: Overland Journeys to California
  • “With Peace and Freedom Blest!”: Woman as Symbol in America, 1590-1800
  • The Long Road to Equality: What Women Won from the ERA Ratification Effort

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Authors: Susan Ware, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University​

Note:  This guide is adapted from the original essay in "American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States," 2001.

Created: December 2001

Last Updated:  March 25, 2019

Abstract:  A pioneer in the field of women’s history and a leading feminist biographer, Susan Ware is the author and editor of numerous books on twentieth-century U.S. history. Educated at Wellesley College and Harvard University, she has taught at New York University and Harvard, where she served as editor of the biographical dictionary Notable American Women: Completing the Twentieth Century (2004). Susan Ware chaired the academic advisory board for the book American Women . Ware has long been associated with the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study where she serves as the Honorary Women’s Suffrage Centennial Historian. The Library of America will publish a women’s suffrage anthology edited by Ware in 2020. In this introductory essay, Ware traces the evolution and current status of the field of women's history, highlights major research themes and scholarly concepts, and describes her own research experiences identifying and utilizing women's history materials in the various divisions of the Library of Congress.

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In the classic feminist text A Room of One's Own (1929), Virginia Woolf tells the story of going to the British Museum to do research for an upcoming lecture on women and fiction. “If truth is not to be found on the shelves of the British Museum,” she asked herself, “where . . . is truth?” 1 Her search was not an especially satisfying one. She found many books written by men on the subject of women, all of them totally useless to her task at hand. She left discouraged, feeling an outsider in the men's world of knowledge and scholarship.

If Virginia Woolf were to walk into the Library of Congress or any major library or research facility today, she would have a far different experience. Instead of finding the subject of women neglected, excluded, or marginalized, she would confront a wealth of information on topics concerning women and gender that would have been inconceivable in the 1920s, or even as late as the 1960s. Now the problem is not too little material on women: it is how to master and find one's way through the explosion of feminist scholarship of the past three decades. Just as important, a whole range of previously overlooked documents and sources unearthed by feminist scholars sheds new light on women's experiences in the past and present.

This website is designed to introduce researchers to the enormous opportunities for discovering American women's history and culture at the Library of Congress. In addition to textual sources, it covers materials such as films and sound recordings, prints and photographs, and other audio or visual material. Its intended audience includes academics, advanced graduate students, genealogists, documentary filmmakers, set and costume designers, artists, actors, novelists, photo researchers, general readers, and, of course, the modern-day equivalents of Virginia Woolf.

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Few fields of American history have grown as dramatically as that of women's history over the past several decades. Courses in women's history are now standard in most colleges and universities, taught by specialists who have trained in the field; many schools also have interdisciplinary women's studies programs. Professors and graduate students continue to produce a wide range of scholarship on issues of women and gender. Textbooks that once relegated their coverage of women to luminaries such as Abigail Adams, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, or Eleanor Roosevelt now include full discussions of major topics and viewpoints in women's history as an integrated part of their general narrative. Although there is still controversy about how American history should be taught, it seems unlikely that we will ever return to the days when women were totally absent from history books or broader historical narratives.

The challenge of women's history is not a simple question of “add women and stir.” It means rethinking and rewriting the story. Linda Gordon, whose pioneering work in the 1970s on the history of the birth control movement helped spur the development of the field, explained: women's history

“does not simply add women to the picture we already have of the past, like painting additional figures into the spaces of an already completed canvas. It requires repainting the earlier pictures, because some of what was previously on the canvas was inaccurate and more of it was misleading.” 2

That ability to force us to look at history in new ways, with new questions and a much wider array of historical actors, is one of the most important contributions that women's history has made, and continues to make, to the writing and teaching of American history. Gerda Lerner, another pioneer in women's history and a leading feminist theorist, remarked in 1981:

“What we have to offer, for consciousness, is a correct analysis of what the world is like. Up to now we have had a partial analysis. Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin ‘helping’ them. Such a world does not exist—never has. Men and women have built society and have built the world. Women have been central to it. This revolutionary insight is itself a force, a force that liberates and transforms.”

Knowledge is power, says Lerner: “Women's history is the primary tool for women's emancipation.” 3

Writing Women's History: The Early Years

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Although the revival of feminism encouraged a giant leap forward in the 1970s, women's history did not start from scratch. Women's history itself has a history, which, in turn, has influenced how the field developed, what kinds of questions were asked at various points in time, and how the field interacted with larger contours of American history in general. This process is ongoing. One of the most vibrant things about the field of women's history is its determination to avoid complacency. According to Linda Gordon, women's historians have been “continuously self-critical of our generalizations.” 4 To revisit some of those earlier generalizations and to examine how the questions have been recast and deepened over time provides a good introduction to the field as a whole. 5

Some of the earliest work in American women's history dates to the nineteenth century. Usually produced by amateur historians, these works are often referred to as “compensatory” or “contributory” history because they focused on previously unknown or neglected contributions that women had made to various aspects of the American experience. Many of these early historical works were biographies of famous women, often authors, first ladies, or women otherwise defined by their relationship to prominent men, a focus that became less dominant as the field matured. Not terribly sophisticated methodologically but often written in a lively and accessible style, these early attempts to put women in history were nevertheless important for showing that the materials and resources existed to write about women's lives and their contributions to American life.

As certain American women, primarily those of the white middle class, gained access to higher education and professional training in the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries, the range of scholarship expanded, although it remained on the margins of how American history was taught and conceptualized. Women were just not seen as subjects worthy of historical inquiry. That did not stop scholars from publishing in this field. Mary Beard's Woman as Force in History (1946), for example, challenged the view of women as victims by emphasizing women's agency, and Eleanor Flexner offered a meticulously researched narrative of the women's rights movement from Seneca Falls through the winning of suffrage in 1920 in Century of Struggle (1959). When women's history as an academic discipline began to grow dramatically in the 1970s, these pioneering books, along with feminist classics such as Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (published in France in 1949, and available in translation in the United States in 1953), became highly influential texts for second-wave feminism. 6

Writing Women's History: 1960's - 1990's

Various factors came together in the late 1960s and 1970s to fuel the growth of women's history:

  • the waves of social protest set in motion by the civil rights movement in the 1950s, in which women as well as men participated;
  • the climate of protest prompted by the war in Vietnam;
  • the revival of feminism as a national issue, sparked in part by Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963) and also by the emergence of women's liberation separate from the New Left;
  • the demographic changes in women's lives, including higher workforce participation and widening access to higher education;
  • an especially critical intellectual factor was the emergence of social history, which looked at the lives of ordinary Americans, and thus challenged the traditional focus on wars, presidents, and great men.

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Emboldened by the revival of feminism, many female scholars (and a few male colleagues) began actively asking new and different questions from history, often linked to the sweeping changes going on in their own lives. As historian Linda Kerber noted aptly, “activists are hungry for their history.” 7 Professors who had been trained in traditional fields such as diplomatic history or Russian history switched their research interests to women's history, almost training themselves as they went. So new—and to some departments and university administrators, so threatening—were the first courses in women's history that it practically felt like a revolutionary act to teach or take one. As these scholars taught, researched, and wrote, they developed new approaches to history: the concept of separate spheres, recognition of difference, the concept of gender, construction of masculinity, qand focus on language and discourse.

In this exciting and creative time for women's history in the 1970s, much of the early research focused on the concept of separate spheres in mid-nineteenth-century America, that is, the way in which women's lives were directed toward the familial and private whereas men inhabited the wider world of politics, work, and public life. Although much of this early work targeted separate spheres as an example of the oppression of women, there was also a competing, and at times simultaneous, emphasis on the empowerment and autonomy women could enjoy in a world where, in Carroll Smith-Rosenberg's phrase, “men made but a shadowy appearance.” 8 This balancing act between victimization or oppression on the one hand and women's agency or activism on the other continues to shape the field today.

Exciting as this outpouring of new research was, the limits of the separate spheres paradigm soon became apparent, one of many instances where women's history has shown its ability to criticize itself and move beyond working generalizations, or to discard them entirely. African American scholars pointed out that the separate spheres concept had little relevance to the lives of black women, for whom restriction to a domestic sphere was virtually negated by institutions like slavery or the need to seek paid employment outside the home. Scholars who studied working-class or immigrant women made the same point. The separate spheres model was also very dependent on sources from New England, with less bearing for the South or, especially, the West. Furthermore, it began to dawn on scholars that white middle-class women might have as much or more in common with men of their own social and economic class than with other women. Later scholars chipped away even more at the notion of a universal female experience by demonstrating that the line between public and private was much more fluid than prescriptive literature reflected.

This dethroning of the concept of sisterhood, and its replacement with a recognition of difference (the diversity of women's experiences, not their commonality), was well under way by the early 1980s. Difference has continued to be one of the most important organizing concepts of women's history. No longer was it enough to say “women”—scholars had to make it clear which women they were talking about. Women were divided by a range of factors that included race, class, ethnicity, religion, geography, age, sexual orientation, and so forth.

This scholarly trend interacted with the emergence of identity politics, that is, the tendency to situate oneself politically and socially in relation to a range of self-defined identities. There was also increasing recognition of conflicts among women and the unequal power dynamics shaping relations between women: mistresses on Southern plantations and their female slaves; white professional women whose careers were made possible by cheap domestic help, usually black or minority women; or white native-born social workers and their working-class and immigrant clients. Suddenly it became much harder to make generalizations about the category of woman. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall challenged historians, “Think simultaneously about the construct ‘woman’ and about concrete, class- and race-specific historical women.” 9

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Another new trend in the 1980s was the growing acceptance of the concept of gender, a term that was virtually nonexistent in 1970s scholarship. Gender refers to the historical and cultural constructions of roles assigned to the biological differences and attributes of men and women. If one could do a key word search of women's history scholarship of the past twenty years, “gender” would probably rival “women” as the most frequently cited word. Although there is no single women's history methodology or approach, the emphasis on gender provides a unifying theme to much of the scholarship on women being produced today. Joan Scott's enormously influential 1986 article “Gender: A Useful Tool of Historical Analysis” played a key role here. 10 Another way to date this shift is to examine the number of book titles that began to use the word in their titles, such as Ruth Milkman's Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II (1987).

In addition to its fruitfulness for women's history, gender analysis has also spurred new scholarship on the construction of masculinity and the way men's roles have changed over time, although some scholars fear that this new trend is just an excuse to deflect attention away from women. In any case, the concept of gender has been stretched far beyond the realization that individuals are influenced by gender roles and expectations. Because all historical actors have a gender, practically any historical question or topic from diplomacy to leisure to state policy can theoretically be subjected to a gender analysis. As Kathleen Brown shows in her study of colonial Virginia, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs (1996), gender never functions in isolation, but in relationship to other factors such as race or class. Karen Anderson argues that gender should be seen “as a constituent element in all social relations, particularly race and class, and in all institutions, including families and political and economic systems and associations. Gender identities are understood as politicized identities that women and men seek to enact or reform in specific historical contexts.” 11

In the 1990s, in addition to widening attention to the intersections of race, class, and gender, practitioners of women's history and gender studies took what has been called a “linguistic turn.” Spurred in part by writings from French scholars such as Jacques Derrida and especially Michel Foucault, American historians began to analyze more deeply questions of language and discourse, that is, the ways in which underlying power structures and inequalities were forged and maintained in words, speech, and other representations (see “With Peace and Freedom Blest! Woman as Symbol” in this volume).

Literary criticism and cultural analysis challenged the authenticity of the text itself, questioning its voice by showing that experience and identity were never simple or unmediated. For example, categories such as “heterosexual” and “homosexual” were shown to be historically constructed, not innate or immutable, with the emergence of a heterosexual identity (as well as other sexual orientations) a fairly recent development.Women's historians incorporated insights from much of this theoretical work into their own scholarship, deploying the use of language and the analysis of words to scrutinize topics like the body and further illuminate the arenas of race, class, and difference.

Writing Women's History: Today

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One way to think about women's history today is to realize how many of its major concerns are focused and oriented toward relationships: in addition to the reigning trilogy of race, class, and gender, the field addresses relationships between groups of women, between structures of power and their subjects, between regions and nationalities, and so forth. Many of these relationships are power relations, as Mary Beth Norton cogently documents in Founding Mothers and Fathers:Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society (1997), and they are all fluid formations, constantly shifting and mutating. What women's history seeks is a multifaceted approach that will be sufficient, in the words of Joanne Meyerowitz, “to illuminate the interconnections among the various systems of power that shape women's lives.”

One of the most far-reaching items on the women's history agenda is the continued interrogation of the concept of whiteness. Too often in the literature white women have appeared as raceless, their experiences shaped entirely by gender. In contrast, African American women and other women of color were viewed primarily in terms of their race, to the exclusion of factors such as class and gender. Yet historians now realize that everyone has ethnicity and race, that whiteness is as much a racial identity as being black or Latina. As a result, historians have been able to unmask the embedded racism of much of past white middle-class women's experiences, where such women, claiming to speak for all women, were in fact speaking from their dominant race and class positions. Such insights have significantly shaped new research in areas such as women's suffrage and the history of imperialism.

A multicultural approach, that is, one that recognizes difference and diversity in women's experiences, is also at the center of contemporary scholarship on women and gender. One of the important contributions of this approach is that it moves the field of history beyond the old framework of seeing race matters solely in terms of black and white. Here the contributions of Western historians have been especially important, because the geographical region they are describing fails to fit neatly into anything resembling a biracial dichotomy. Where would that leave Native American women, Latinas, and Asian women, who often existed side by side with black and Anglo women in Western communities?

This widened field of vision once again forces historians to put issues of diversity in race, class, and gender relationships at the heart of all questions under inquiry. There is an important caveat, however: multiculturalism and diversity cannot become a question of merely recognizing and adding previously excluded groups because then diversity runs the risk of normalizing white middle-class practice and marginalizing everyone else as “other.” Such an outcome, in turn, is simply a cover for existing race, class, gender, and heterosexual domination. Like most other things in life, conceptualizing women's history is always a balancing act.

One of the greatest accomplishments of women's history over the past three decades has been the extensive documentation of the contours of African American women's history. This rich outpouring of research, on everything from education to suffrage to work to slavery to music, has brought the enormous contributions made by African American women to their communities and to the country at large into the historical record. As monographs were being written and oral history interviews conducted, new documents and sources were uncovered which are now available to scholars and researchers.

Research on Asian American women, Latinas, Puerto Rican women, and immigrants from the Caribbean and South American countries has also begun in earnest, but because the fields are much newer and the number of practitioners smaller, they have not yet had the impact on broader scholarship that African American historiography has. These areas are likely to experience major growth over the next decade. From these subfields and the fruitful scholarship being done on the multicultural West, women's history has already learned the utility of concepts like borderlands, intercultural borders, frontiers, and contact zones. Once again women's history will be pushing the boundaries as it ventures into new areas of exploration and research.

Rewriting Women's History

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Contemporary women's history scholarship also rewrites topics that had once seemed settled or fully explored by asking different questions and using new approaches. An excellent example is the women's suffrage movement (see “Marching for the Vote”). Documentation of the history of women's suffrage began in 1881 during the movement itself, with the compilation of the multivolume  History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage , an important if flawed source (it focused on only one wing of the movement, ignoring the contributions of the other). Eleanor Flexner's  Century of Struggle  (1959) brought the story to a new generation of readers, and the early women's rights movement became the focus of some of the most influential early works in women's history, such as Gerda Lerner's  The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels against Slavery  (1967) and Ellen Carol Dubois's  Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869  (1978).

Interest in suffrage has ebbed and flowed, but it has risen recently as historians probe more deeply into the embedded racism of much of the suffragists' ideology and leadership strategies. Spurred in part by scholarship on the often troubled relationship between white and African American suffragists, as well as by the new emphasis on analyzing whiteness as a category, historians have demonstrated how white suffrage leaders basically privileged the white middle-class female as the norm, the standard to be aspired to, in the United States and throughout the world. A topic that once seemed to be mainly about winning the vote now presents a window on issues such as racism, imperialism, and power.

The growing interest in suffrage is also part of a resurgence of interest in political history. In the early days of women's history, inspired largely by the dramatic growth of social history, most attention focused on the lives of ordinary women, with political elites or prominent women given a lower priority. Partly as a byproduct of moving beyond the separate spheres paradigm, historians began to realize that women had been much more involved in the public sphere than previously suspected. They may not have been voters or held political office, but they influenced public policy nonetheless: through voluntary associations, churches and charities, family connections, or even participation in mob actions or other public demonstrations not usually associated with “the weaker sex.” Any former notions of women as nonpolitical have gone by the wayside. Or to put it another way, women's history has helped broaden the definition of what is political in ways that have been productive not only for research on women and gender but also for the field of American political history.

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As part of a new attention to the making of public policy and how public authority is forged, historians have also turned a more critical eye to areas like the growth of the state and state policy, especially on issues affecting women and children such as welfare laws. As another example of how topics in women's history continue to grow and deepen, early work on the New Deal in the 1930s focused on the contributions that an elite band of women—primarily white but also including Mary McLeod Bethune—made to the formulation of New Deal policies. Building on that basis, later studies asked harder questions. It was no longer enough to know that women administrators were active in the New Deal; historians wanted to determine how the attitudes of those women affected the policies that they were developing and administering. In the case of social security, first passed in 1935, the law was written from a very conservative premise: that men were breadwinners, that women were primarily wives, and that any system of old-age insurance should be built on that dichotomy. Women administrators bought into this deeply gendered conceptualization and perpetuated it, despite the fact that their own lives diverged from such a model. Similar investigations into Progressive-era labor legislation and public policy from the 1960s and 1970s have uncovered previously undetected gender assumptions that now shape how historians view these periods of legislative activism.

Another field to which women's history has increasingly turned in recent years is biography. Of course, biographies of famous women have been standard fare since the nineteenth century, but in the excitement of the rediscovery of women's history in the 1960s and 1970s and the ascendancy of social history, biographies of well-known or influential women were fairly uncommon. (Gerda Lerner's book on the Grimké sisters and Kathryn Kish Sklar's 1973 biography of Catharine Beecher are notable exceptions.) And yet historians were intrigued by biography because it allowed them a window into many aspects of women's lives, be she ordinary (like Martha Ballard in Laurel Thacher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale) or extraordinary (Eleanor Roosevelt as portrayed in Blanche Wiesen Cook's volumes). Especially important to the field of biography as a whole has been the insistence of feminist scholars that attention must always be paid to the interplay between the personal and the professional in forging an interpretation of a subject's overall significance.

One of the strongest continuities of women's history scholarship, stretching back to Progressive-era investigations of conditions of women's industrial work, such as Margaret Byington's  Homestead: The Household of a Mill Town  (1910) and Katherine Anthony's  Mothers Who Must Earn  (1914), is its focus on women's work, and this emphasis is alive and well. “Women have always worked” is a generalization that truly does stand up to scrutiny, and historians have documented the range of women's contributions, from industrial work to labor organizing to the significant theoretical recognition that women's unpaid domestic labor is critical to (and usually undercounted in) the wider economy. Also of interest have been the sectors of the economy where women traditionally have clustered: domestic service, waitressing, teaching, nursing, clerical work, librarianship, social work, and the like. How these occupations became typed as female, and why they have stayed that way despite monumental changes in the meaning of work and in the realities of women's lives, is a question that still tantalizes historians.

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Another question that has been a constant on the women's history agenda concerns women and social change. From the beginning, historians have documented the wide variety of women's contributions to their communities and to public life. Through voluntary associations, religious groups, professional organizations, activist groups, and other forums, women have often been in the forefront of movements of social change, not always as the leaders, but certainly behind the scenes. Until recently these vital contributions have often been hidden from history, or at least overlooked. Women's activism, on the left and on the right, confirms the importance of expanding historians' notions of what constitutes the political.

An area that has always fascinated women's historians is that of sexuality. Because sexual practices are both a private activity and a public concern (expressed in such ways as laws regulating prostitution or homosexuality), it has often been easier to document the latter than the former. As part of the general challenge to a notion of a universal female experience, and influenced by the emergence of an activist gay liberation movement, innovative research has uncovered a far wider range of sexual identities and communities than previously recognized. Nor is this phenomenon limited to sophisticated urban areas like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Same-sex friendships, a topic that received a great deal of attention in the 1970s because of the separate spheres ideology, also continue to intrigue historians, who try to understand what these relationships meant to the women involved and then try to place the friendships into their broader historical context.

Now that America has entered the twenty-first century, it is appropriate that a fast-growing area of historical inquiry concerns women's transnationalism and globalization. The increasing number of comparative studies that cross both political and cultural boundaries also reflects this trend. Paralleling the theoretical effort to challenge and displace a white middle-class experience as the norm for all human experience is a parallel effort to dislodge the United States, and Western civilization, from a privileged position as the universal (and only) model of progress. Historians who have studied the interactions between American women's organizations and their foreign equivalents have often been struck by how deeply, and unconsciously, women who consider themselves feminists will hold up the Western model as the only one for the advancement of women. As historians document the extensive contact that American women's groups had with similar organizations beyond national borders, they show one direction that women's history will likely take in the future.

As this necessarily abbreviated survey of the state of women's history has documented, the field is constantly generating new questions, new topics, and more sophisticated ways of interpreting and contextualizing material. But no matter what the questions are, research and documentation are needed to answer them. Sometimes it is a case of finding totally new sources and documents to tell a story that needs to be told, but far more often it is a matter of revisiting more traditional sources and asking different questions of them. That is where the rich resources of the Library of Congress come in. For practically any question in women's history, the Library of Congress is an excellent place to pursue in-depth research.

Research at the Library of Congress

When the Library of Congress was established in 1800, it did not necessarily plan to become a major repository for material documenting the contributions of women to American life, but that, indeed, has happened over the two centuries of its existence. This material has arrived by a variety of routes, some direct and others quite circuitous. As part of the copyright registration process, books, sound recordings, motion pictures, prints and photographs, and other unique historical sources were placed on deposit in Washington. Even though the Library of Congress does not have every book ever published, its massive collections make it the library of record for the rest of the country. Its holdings include many different types of materials specifically devoted to the topic of women, but also a vast array of sources that contain unexpected nuggets of data or information for unlocking women's history.

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A similar process is at work in the extensive manuscript and rare book collections: some collections, like those relating to woman suffrage, specifically relate to women, but many others, which on their face seem to have little to do with women, in fact hold major treasures. One example discussed in the chapter on manuscripts is the papers from members of Congress. Separated from their families and living a bachelor life in the nation's capital, what did congressmen do at night? They wrote home to their families about what was happening in Washington. And what did the congressional wives do? They wrote back detailed descriptions of their family and domestic concerns, and business concerns as well, thus supplying a rich source for documenting the lives of women of a certain class position. The collections were first acquired because of the importance of the male politicians, but the wives' letters are there nonetheless, ready for the kind of rediscovery and reinterpretation that is the bread and butter of women's history.

This web site is organized the same way that the Library of Congress is: by its major reading rooms. In each major section you will find descriptions of important holdings and collections that relate to women's history. Perusing these pages and seeing the wealth of material pertaining to women will suggest the kinds of topics and questions that could be researched. To demonstrate how researchers may actually use such material from the resources of the Library of Congress, five other essays have been included that touch on some of the significant issues with which historians of women have grappled. These essays figuratively are the end products of a process that might begin when a researcher walks into any of the Library's reading rooms. For advice on how to use the Library of Congress, see Planning Your Visit and Searching LC Catalogs. Researchers might also want to consult two previously published guides: The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture (1993) and  Many Nations: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Indian and Alaska Native Peoples of the United States  (1996), as well as the print version of this web site,  American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States  (2001).

Two tips for doing research run through the entire site and have influenced its organization and presentation. The first piece of advice is not to limit research to one type of source or document, but to sample the Library's many divisions in an interdisciplinary manner. The second is that there is no single way to approach the Library's collections. Researchers should explore the finding tools, indexes, and other resources described on this site and consult the reference staff in each reading room. Often the answers to the questions being researched can be found in a variety of places, and it is vital to cast the net widely.

One of the great attractions of doing research at the Library of Congress is the opportunity to consult many types of sources in one location, as I have found while researching a biography of radio talk show pioneer Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976). From the 1930s through the 1950s, McBride built a loyal audience of millions of women (and not a few men) who tuned in to her program every day at one o'clock. A superb interviewer, Mary Margaret (her fans and guests were all on a first-name basis with her) welcomed the famous and the not-so-famous to her show, always eliciting interesting stories and ideas that connected her home-bound audience to the wider world. She even did her own commercials, earning a reputation as one of the most effective saleswomen on radio. If Mary Margaret said to buy a certain brand of carrots or gingerbread at the local store, her fans would pick the shelves clean.

To research this biography, I need to make use of no fewer than six collections or reading rooms at the Library of Congress, and this web site offers me a useful and complete introduction to each one of them:

  • The bulk of my research is being conducted in the Recorded Sound Section, which has approximately 1,200 hours of transcribed tapes of her radio broadcasts. There I sit in a listening booth and pretend that I am one of Mary Margaret's listeners.
  • When I want to take a break from that, I can watch her unsuccessful attempt to turn herself into a television personality in the 1950s with kinescopes and videotapes available through the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room.
  • Historians like paper sources too, and luckily both the Recorded Sound Reference Center of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division and the Manuscript Reading Room have major collections of her papers, including correspondence, letters from fans, radio logs, photographs, and memorabilia.
  • Before McBride entered radio, she was a journalist, and I can track down articles she published through the extensive periodicals collection housed in the General Collections, which also contain the publications of many of her guests.
  • To find newspaper coverage of her show, I can consult newspapers from major cities across the country in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Room.
  • If I want to find out more about the part of Missouri that she originally came from, I can go to the Geography and Map Reading Room.

I have been doing research at the Library of Congress for almost twenty-five years, and I am still learning about its rich resources. All the scholars who served as advisers to this project—Eileen Boris, Joanne Braxton, Carol Karlsen, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Vicki Ruiz—had a similar reaction as they participated in the preparation of this resource: each of us learned an enormous amount of useful, practical information about doing research at the Library of Congress, and, in fact, about doing research in general. We were collectively stimulated and excited by the possibilities of new research topics and ideas suggested by the material described. And we have all been enormously impressed by the knowledge and dedication of the members of the Library of Congress staff to making this material widely and easily accessible to researchers who wish to use it. This women's history resource guide is just the first step on what should be a fascinating and productive journey for any researcher, new or old, who enters the Library's doors. Unlike Virginia Woolf, you will not leave empty handed.

  • Virginia Woolf,  A Room of One's Own  (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1929; PN471.W6 1929a), 25-26. Back to text
  • Linda Gordon,  U.S. Women's History  (Washington: American Historical Association, 1997), 2. Back to text
  • “Gerda Lerner on the Future of Our Past,” interview by Catharine R. Stimpson, Ms.(HQ1101.M55) 10 (September 1981): 94, 95. Back to text
  • Gordon,  U.S. Women's History , 5. Back to text
  • In the short space of this introduction, it is not possible to provide a summary of the content of American women's history, although some of the key topics and concerns will be touched on. Readers desiring a general overview of the field or discussion of central topics and themes should consult the bibliography of major works at the end of this introduction, as well as bibliographical material presented in individual chapters. Back to text
  • Historians use the term “second-wave feminism” to refer to the activism of the 1960s and 1970s, in contrast to the suffrage movement, the so-called first wave of women's activism. Back to text
  • Linda K. Kerber, “Gender,” in Anthony Molho and Gordon Wood, eds.,  Imagined Histories: American Historians Interpret the Past  (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998; D13.5 U6 I657 1998), 41. Back to text
  • Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual,” in  Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America  (New York: Knopf, 1985; HQ1419.S58 1985), 53. The essay originally appeared in the first issue of  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society , (HQ1101.S5). The journal's beginning in 1975 was itself a noteworthy marker of the professionalization of the field. Other important journals founded in these years included  Feminist Studies : (HQ1101.F46) and Frontiers . Back to text
  • Quoted in Karen Anderson,  Changing Woman: A History of Racial Ethnic Women in Modern America  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996; E184.A1 A673 1996), 16. Back to text
  • Joan Wallach Scott, “Gender: A Useful Tool of Historical Analysis,”  American Historical Review  (E171.A57) 91 (December 1986): 1,053-75. Back to text
  • Karen Anderson,  Teaching Gender in U.S. History  (Washington: American Historical Association, 1997), 3. Back to text

Selected Print Bibliography

Anderson, Karen.  Changing Women: A History of Racial Ethnic Women in Modern America . New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Armitage, Susan, and Elizabeth Jameson, eds.  The Women's West . Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.

_____________.  Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Culture in the Women's West . Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Baron, Ava, ed.  Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor . Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Bataille, Gretchen M.  Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary . New York: Garland Publishing, 1991.

Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon, eds.  America's Working Women: A Documentary History . 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Boris, Eileen.  Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Cahn, Susan.  Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women's Sport . New York: Free Press, 1994.

Chafe, William H.  The American Woman: Her Changing Social, Economic, and Political Roles, 1920-1970 . New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Clinton, Catherine, and Michele Gillespie, eds.  The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South . New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Cott, Nancy F., ed.  Root of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women . 2nd ed. Boston: Northeastern Press, 1996.

Cott, Nancy F., and Elizabeth H. Pleck, eds.  A Heritage of Her Own: Towards a New Social History of American Women . New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.

Del Castillo, Adelaida R., ed.  Between Borders: Essays on Mexicana/Chicana History . Encino, Calif.: Floricanto Press, 1990.

D'Emilio, John, and Estelle Freedman.  Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America . 2nd ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

Evans, Sara M.  Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America . New York: Free Press, 1989.

Faderman, Lillian S.  Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America . New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

Flexner, Eleanor.  Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States . 1959. Revised and enlarged by Ellen Fitzpatrick. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996.

Giddings, Paula.  When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America . 1st Quill ed. New York: W. Morrow, 1996.

Hewitt, Nancy, and Suzanne Lebsock, eds.  Visible Women: New Essays on American Activism . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Hine, Darlene Clark, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosyln Terborg-Penn, eds.  Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia . 2 vols. Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, 1993. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Hine, Darlene Clark, Wilma King, and Linda Reed, eds.  “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible”: A Reader in Black Women's History . Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1995.

Hine, Darlene Clark, and Kathleen Thompson.  A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America . New York: Broadway Books, 1998.

Hodes, Martha, ed.  Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History . New York: New York University Press, 1999.

James, Edward T., Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer.  Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary . Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Jones, Jacqueline.  American Work: Black and White Labor since 1600 . New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.

Kerber, Linda, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Kathryn Kish Sklar, eds.  U.S. History as Women's History: New Feminist Essays . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Kerber, Linda, and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds.  Women's America: Refocusing the Past . 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Kessler-Harris, Alice.  Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States . New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Lerner, Gerda.  The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History . New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Ling, Huping. Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Matthews, Glenna.  The Rise of Public Woman: Woman's Power and Woman's Place in the United States, 1630-1970 . New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Mora, Magdelena, and Adelaida R. Del Castillo, eds.  Mexican Women in the United States: Struggles Past and Present . Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Research Center Publications, University of California, 1980.

Norton, Mary Beth, and Ruth M. Alexander, eds.  Major Problems in American Women's History: Documents and Essays . 2nd ed. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1996.

Rotundo, E. Anthony.  American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era . New York: Basic Books, 1993.

Ruiz, Vicki.  From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America . New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Ruiz, Vicki, and Ellen Carol DuBois, eds.  Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U.S. Women's History . 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Schlissel, Lillian, Vicki L. Ruiz, and Janice Monk, eds.  Western Women: Their Land, Their Lives . Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.

Scott, Anne Firor.  Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.

Shoemaker, Nancy, ed.  Negotiators of Change: Historical Perspectives on Native American Women . New York: Routledge, 1995.

Sicherman, Barbara, and Carol Hurd Green.  Notable American Women: The Modern Period . Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.

Smith, Merril D., ed.  Sex and Sexuality in Early America . New York: New York University Press, 1998.

Solomon, Barbara Miller.  In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America . New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985.

Strasser, Susan.  Never Done: A History of American Housework . New York: Pantheon Books, 1982; New York: Henry Holt, 2000.

Ware, Susan, ed.  Modern American Women: A Documentary History . 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

Woloch, Nancy.  Women and the American Experience . 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Yung, Judy.  Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

*Authored the original essay in American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States (Library of Congress, 2001), from which this online version is derived. Others who contributed to this effort are identified in the Acknowledgments.

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Women Rights - Free Essay Samples And Topic Ideas

This has been a crucial topic of discussion for decades, and it continues to be relevant today. It’s an issue that is observed worldwide and has an impact on gender equality. Creating an essay on women rights can be a daunting task, which is why it’s essential to check out a finished women’s rights essay example.

Our experts have prepared a collection of persuasive and argumentative essays on women’s rights to help students understand the various issues surrounding this topic. Discrimination has been a struggle that women have faced for a long time. Through the feminist movement, women have fought for their freedom, speech, and equality. The ongoing push for equal treatment and opportunities has sparked important conversations and initiatives across societies globally.

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About Women Rights and Equality

Women’s rights are an important factor in understanding global well-being. Although a treaty was endorsed by most of the world’s nations a few decades ago, numerous issues still exist in most aspects of life, despite many successes in liberating women. It is an unfortunate case, how women are paid less than men, yet work more; throughout their lifetime, gender discrimination negatively affects girls and women; and women are often the ones who are in a state of poverty. It is […]

Women Rights in all Countries

One of the most important targets of humanity is that everyone benefits from human rights equally. Human rights are fundamental rights and these rights appeared with the beginning of humanity. Human rights can be considered natural rights because the origin of these rights is natural law. These rights were considered only for men in the past and women were excluded. This exclusion led to the emergence of feminism. These rights didn’t arise suddenly. They influenced by changes in history. Because […]

Abortion and Women’s Rights

In spite of women's activist desires, the matter of conceptive decision in the United States was not settled in 1973 by the important Supreme Court choice on account of Roe v. Wade. From the beginning there was animal-like restriction by the Catholic Church. Anyway, in the course of at least the last 20 years, the too early or soon birth discussion has changed into a definitely spellbound, meaningful debate between two differentiating societal talks that are moored to the problems […]

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Women Rights in Pakistan

Throughout history, the role of women has always been determined by the men in society. They have had very different experiences in different times. In some societies and times, the women were able to be powerful leaders and warriors. Yet, in other societies, they have had strict expectations placed on them that forced them to be seen as inferior to men. It wasn’t until recently in the 20th century that women began taking charge and determining what roles they want […]

Women’s Rights in the United States in the 1970s

In the 1940’s-1960’s, there was a blurred distinction between clinical and sexual exams within the medical field (Wendy Kline, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry). For example, many male doctors would provide pelvic exams as a means to teach women sex instruction, and were taught to assert their power over their patients. This led to women instituting new training programs for proper examinations, creating a more gentle and greatly-respected method of examining women and their bodies. There was also an increase […]

Womens Rights in the French Revolution

Prior to the French revolution, events such as the Enlightenment also known as the “Age of Reason” sparked a new outlook on traditional french society. From this movement arose the spirit of question in which the people began to question just about everything including the manner in which they treat women. Throughout the 18th century concepts and principles established by both Catholic Church and Protestant authorities were highly valued. Therefore the “ideal” woman was perceived to be poise and subordinate […]

Women’s Rights in Pride and Prejudice

Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart."(Austen 94). Woman's rights have been a popular and important topic for the past three centuries, and will continue to be in the future. Jane Austen is widely known and praised for her controversial ideas and opinions in her literary fiction novel,Pride and Prejudice. Much before the time of the fight for women's rights, Jane Austen brought […]

Women’s Rights to Choose

Every person in the United States is granted inalienable rights, whether it be to practice their own religion or vote, which should include autonomy over their own bodies.  A woman should have the right to choose what she does with her own body, and in 1973 that became a possibility for American women.  In 1973 Roe v. Wade made it possible for women to legally choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies within their first two trimesters.  The government finally took into […]

Equality between Men and Women

Men and women should have the equally right to vote, education, and respect. They should have the same rights because being a woman is just a gender. It does not change who we are as a person and it is very unfair. Through time, the way people look at women now has changed through some historical ways. The Salem Witch trials had a very powerful impact on women. Economic and voting oppurtunities for women were very limited. For example, most […]

An Issue of Women’s Reproductive Rights

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that men and women are created equal (Elizabeth Cady Stanton). In America this has been the basis of what our nation stands for. It is stated that every citizen has the right to equality that shall not be stripped away, in many cases that is not true. Whether man or women you should possess the same rights, but more often than not the women's rights are taken away. There are many instances in […]

Women’s Right and Abolitionist Movement

Women's rights and abolishment are two organizations that are fighting for their rights and equality, they were both facing with struggles and injustice. Women's rights and Abolitionist movement were wrapped together because both women and slaves wanted to be free, in their own different ways. Women wanted to have their right to vote, labor rights, reproductive rights and abortion. Slaves wanted to be free of their owners and live the life they want without being whipped and own by another […]

Elizabeth Stanton’s Impact on Women’s Rights Movement

Abstract For centuries, there have been several social issues that have been resolved by the actions of pioneers who stood for change. Whether the goal was to resolve violent bigotry or give equal rights to those without, these changes were vital in shaping our nation today. With every development in the system, more people became pursuant in advocating for change. The topic that will be discussed in this analysis revolves around the women's rights movement. The greatest advocate for the […]

Women’s Rights in the Middle East

Brigham Young once said, "You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate women; you educate a generation" (Digital Empowerment Foundation). Education is very important to the young women in the Middle East and religion can cause conflict, it is not just about private faith. There are many titles that a woman can be given such as, a woman's main job is to take care of their children, they are not allowed to show any hair of skin, and […]

History of Women’S Rights in India

Introduction Throughout time women have been neglected, they were treated lesser than men. Much of women's rights in the 21st century have been a direct result of the hard work women have done in the past. Women were forced to prove that they were capable of doing the same things a man can do. And yet still women are still not seen as equal to men. There are still differences in income, employment, and many other areas. Women have always […]

Women’s Rights in America

Throughout the sixties until this very day, woman have been actively trying to take charge of their future by securing the same rights that men have. Issues commonly associated with women's rights include the rights to: bodily integrity, to be free from sexual violence, to vote, enter legal contracts, to work, to fair wages or equal pay, to have reproductive rights, own property, obtain an education. The Womens's Rights movement of the 1960's and 1970's has changed the course of […]

The Battle Fight for the Equality and Rights of Women

The speech that was given by Elizabeth Cady Stanton of "The Solitude of Self," was in 1892 on January 18, at the U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. as the first president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). This is her retirement speech when she was retired from NAWSA in 1892 when she was 77 years old. The speech that she delivered, talks about gender equality each, that included education and suffrage. She opposed inequality for its many aspects and […]

Women’s Rights: a Huge Movement

Women’s Rights Gender equality, also known as sexual equality, is when your gender does not determine your access to opportunities and resources. There should also be equal valuing of aspirations, behaviors and decision-making, independent of gender. One issue in gender inequality is equal pay, there should be equal work equal pay. If a woman is putting in the same work as a man, she should get the same check. The law says there is equal pay but according to statistics […]

Question of Womens Educational Rights

What if you were not allowed to have a voice and share what you think just because of your gender? How would that make you feel? Well, this is a common thing that happens in our country and across the world. That is why I am focusing on Women's Rights as my Exhibition topic. I want this to stop. Our class Central Idea is, "Global opportunities may create conflict between people and other living things." Our groups Central Idea had […]

Early Development of Women’s Rights

Women's Rights was a very big issue back in the day, and still is even in present day. Women have been treated differently since the 1800's, but a huge women's rights movement sparked the change that they needed. These women had fought long enough for the rights they deserved. Even the people that didn't have rights when this country was started, like the slaves and the immigrants, had rights before the women did. Many things changed this though. Elizabeth Cady […]

The Status of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights

The consequences of sexual behaviour between women and men have driven a desire and determination of women to control their fertility, yet in an environment in which anti-choice legislators and organizations do not protect women's reproductive rights, there is an ongoing dispute on who decides the fate of such rights. The status of women's sexual and reproductive rights remains controversial and while there have been many attempts to gain such basic human right, the fight for reproductive freedoms remains intense. […]

Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities

Throughout history, women have been suppressed and rendered unequal and weaker than men. With this occurrence, many women have spoken out about why this is wrong and have fought for their rights in many ways. Judith Sargent Murray was one of these women, and as an advocate for women’s rights and an adamant, professional essayist, her work of On the Equality of the Sexes shows us what she thought on the situation and how strongly she felt about it. The […]

An Issue of Women’s International Rights

The percentage of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has dropped 25 percent in the last year (Miller). The struggle to gain access to higher paid jobs for females has been notoriously difficult, so why are these women leaving their positions? The challenges they face are not a result of individual choices. That's because evidence shows there are larger forces at work, rooted in biases against women in power (Miller). Similarly, this number of women in power is declining because […]

Women’s Reproductive Rights are under Attack

Women's reproductive rights have always been threatened because of sexist beliefs. Recently, however, they're being threatened in America in a subtler, but potentially more dangerous way. Product manufacturers market items towards women and make them more expensive than similar items for men, politicians enact laws whose main goal is to limit women's reproductive rights, and medical professionals downplay women's pain in emergency rooms. Personally, I believe that everyone should have access to proper healthcare. Of course, there are some who […]

Understanding of Women’s Liberation Movement

In order to better understand the Women's Liberation Movement, the reason as to why it was launched must be explained. Oppression, the inability to vote or abort, unequal pay, and limited opportunities were just some of the reasons why feminists formed organizations to strive for change. According to Vicky Randall (1987), the Women's Liberation Movement first emerged in the year 1960 due to three important factors, which were the predisposing factors, the facilitating factors and the specific triggering effects (Hawkesworth, […]

The Question of Woman’s Role in the World

The question, area unit ladies  in todays society less privileged than men or are they not?  This question stemming from the term feminism, this term has been taken out of context. The term feminism in sociology is based mostly on gender equality, " being aware of a rising movement to create people perceive that gender may be a life- organizing principle. The fundamental conviction is that men and ladies have equal opportunities and respect."(Conley, 283)  In today 's read of […]

Women’s Rights in China

Despite all the protest that international women's rights movement from the Seneca Falls in 1848 to the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890, and the National Women party in 1916. In China women never had the privilege to show what they are capable of doing because that was not a ladylike thing in their family. Women have always been the primary abduction target since the early 1900s to 2005 because it was unacceptable that they had a higher population […]

Main Issues of Women’s Rights

GENERAL PURPOSE: To Educate/To Inform SPECIFIC PURPOSE: To inform my audience on the differences in women's rights between the United States and Middle Eastern countries. CENTRAL IDEA: The United States and Middle Eastern countries differ greatly when it comes to women's rights, and the view/treatment of women in society. VISUAL AIDS: Powerpoint Slides Introduction (Greeting/Name) Thank you, the previous presenter, for the lovely introduction. Good morning everyone, my name is Emily Parker and I am here to inform you on […]

Culture Vs Human Rights Women Edition

Introduction Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), why does this method thrive in the heart of Africa, Asia and the Middle East?  Some argue it's necessary while others strive to prevent the process from continuing throughout those areas. This brings up the question of whether FGM is a right of passage or violation of rights? According to the the World Health Organization, (1)"Female Genital Mutilation is a procedure to remove the female genital organs for non medical reasons." There are four different […]

A Comparative Analysis of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia and Japan

Introduction Ever since the birth of the women’s suffrage movement, and perhaps even before that, there has been a gradual shift in culture, politics, public relations, and government paradigms that have led us down the path of women’s empowerment. Although we are not fully there, western and developed states have made significant changes to their policies and overall attitudes to make for a more egalitarian society. Naturally, the cultural paradigm of feminism would eventually take hold and trickle down to […]

Pencils and Bullets Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

On March 19, 2015, two days before Afghan New Year's, 27-year-old Farkhunda Malikzada stopped by the Shah-e-Du Shamshira shrine, in Kabul, Afghanistan, to say her prayers. She got into an argument with the shrine keeper about his practice of selling charms, little scraps of paper with verses from the Quran. In retaliation, he falsely accuses her of being an American and burning a copy of the Quran. An angry crowd gathers, instantly believing the words of the shrine keeper. She […]

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How To Write an Essay About Women Rights

Understanding women's rights.

Before starting an essay about women's rights, it is essential to understand the history and current state of women's rights globally. Women's rights encompass a range of freedoms and rights, which include the right to live free from violence and discrimination, enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, be educated, participate in political life, and benefit from economic rights. Start your essay by providing a historical overview of women's rights, discussing significant movements like suffrage and feminism, and addressing key legal milestones. Also, consider the varying challenges faced by women in different societies and cultures and how these have evolved over time.

Developing a Thesis Statement

A strong essay on women's rights should be anchored by a clear, focused thesis statement. This statement should present a specific viewpoint or argument about women's rights. For instance, you might examine the progress made in women's rights over a particular period, analyze the impact of feminism on women's rights, or discuss the challenges still facing women's rights in certain areas of the world. Your thesis will guide the direction of your essay and provide a structured approach to your analysis.

Gathering Supporting Evidence

Support your thesis with relevant data, research findings, and historical examples. This might include statistics on gender equality, case studies of women's rights movements, examples of significant legal changes, or personal narratives. Use this evidence to support your thesis and build a persuasive argument. Remember to consider various perspectives, including international viewpoints, and address potential counterarguments to your thesis.

Analyzing the Impact of Women's Rights Movements

Dedicate a section of your essay to analyzing the impact of women's rights movements. Discuss how these movements have changed societal attitudes and legal frameworks, leading to improved rights and freedoms for women. Explore both the successes and ongoing challenges, considering the intersectionality of issues such as race, class, and sexuality. This analysis should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of women's rights.

Concluding the Essay

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your discussion and restating your thesis in light of the evidence provided. Your conclusion should tie together your analysis and emphasize the importance of continuing to fight for women's rights. You might also want to suggest areas for future research or action needed to advance women's rights further.

Reviewing and Refining Your Essay

After completing your essay, review and refine it for clarity and coherence. Ensure that your arguments are well-structured and supported by evidence. Check for grammatical accuracy and ensure that your essay flows logically from one point to the next. Consider seeking feedback from peers, educators, or women's rights activists to further improve your essay. A well-crafted essay on women's rights will not only demonstrate your understanding of the topic but also your ability to engage critically with social and political issues.

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Essay On Women Rights

500 words essay on women rights.

Women rights are basic human rights claimed for women and girls all over the world. It was enshrined by the United Nations around 70 years ago for every human on the earth. It includes many things which range from equal pay to the right to education. The essay on women rights will take us through this in detail for a better understanding.

essay on women rights

Importance of Women Rights

Women rights are very important for everyone all over the world. It does not just benefit her but every member of society. When women get equal rights, the world can progress together with everyone playing an essential role.

If there weren’t any women rights, women wouldn’t have been allowed to do something as basic as a vote. Further, it is a game-changer for those women who suffer from gender discrimination .

Women rights are important as it gives women the opportunity to get an education and earn in life. It makes them independent which is essential for every woman on earth. Thus, we must all make sure women rights are implemented everywhere.

How to Fight for Women Rights

All of us can participate in the fight for women rights. Even though the world has evolved and women have more freedom than before, we still have a long way to go. In other words, the fight is far from over.

First of all, it is essential to raise our voices. We must make some noise about the issues that women face on a daily basis. Spark up conversations through your social media or make people aware if they are misinformed.

Don’t be a mute spectator to violence against women, take a stand. Further, a volunteer with women rights organisations to learn more about it. Moreover, it also allows you to contribute to change through it.

Similarly, indulge in research and event planning to make events a success. One can also start fundraisers to bring like-minded people together for a common cause. It is also important to attend marches and protests to show actual support.

History has been proof of the revolution which women’s marches have brought about. Thus, public demonstrations are essential for demanding action for change and impacting the world on a large level.

Further, if you can, make sure to donate to women’s movements and organisations. Many women of the world are deprived of basic funds, try donating to organizations that help in uplifting women and changing their future.

You can also shop smartly by making sure your money is going for a great cause. In other words, invest in companies which support women’s right or which give equal pay to them. It can make a big difference to women all over the world.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Conclusion of the Essay on Women Rights

To sum it up, only when women and girls get full access to their rights will they be able to enjoy a life of freedom . It includes everything from equal pay to land ownerships rights and more. Further, a country can only transform when its women get an equal say in everything and are treated equally.

FAQ of Essay on Women Rights

Question 1: Why are having equal rights important?

Answer 1: It is essential to have equal rights as it guarantees people the means necessary for satisfying their basic needs, such as food, housing, and education. This allows them to take full advantage of all opportunities. Lastly, when we guarantee life, liberty, equality, and security, it protects people against abuse by those who are more powerful.

Question 2: What is the purpose of women’s rights?

Answer 2: Women’s rights are the essential human rights that the United Nations enshrined for every human being on the earth nearly 70 years ago. These rights include a lot of rights including the rights to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination. In addition to the right to education, own property; vote and to earn a fair and equal wage.

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Women's Power in the Struggle for Freedom and Equal Rights

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“Democracy is a universally recognized ideal based on common values shared by people across the world, irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences. As recognized in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action , democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives . Democracy, development, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.” -  United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The principles of democracy insist on, especially from a twenty-first century perspective, the inclusion of all people, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or ability. And yet governments around the world have a history of barring certain classes of people from being heard, seen, and fairly represented. Throughout history this has been especially true for women. And yet, despite repeated and ongoing attempts to sideline women in society, there has always been a consistent female force, fighting for freedom, equality, and democratic ideals.

For example, Chilean women who lived during Pinochet’s dictatorship were under the threat of constant danger, but they resisted by creating dissident art and forming the Moviemento Pro Emancipación de la Mujer. The Turkish coup of 1980 inspired a feminist movement that existed in open rebellion. They decried their loss of freedom and organized mass protests, including a 1987 march against gender-based violence. And here, in the United States of America, one of the oldest modern democracies in the world, it took a staggering 144 years for women in the US to be granted suffrage with the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. It would take 45 more years for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to be passed before Black women gained full access to the vote. But the right to vote was not just granted to women—they had to fight for it. 

There are endless examples of “the fairer sex” doing anything in their power to be seen as the equal sex—these examples are a testament to women's impact on society, government, and history. As we celebrate Women’s History Month in March, Facing History has curated a list of resources to showcase female upstanders who have fought for freedom, human rights, and promoted the principles of democracy, even under oppressive regimes and laws restricting them from representation.

The American Revolution and Challenging the Ideals of a Fledgling Democracy

Elizabeth freeman.

Entering the world as Mum Bett in the mid-sixteenth century, Elizabeth Freeman was born into slavery. As the white men around her—and notably her enslaver, Colonel Ashley—spoke of rights and freedoms amidst the creation of the Declaration of Independence and war with England, the idea of her own freedom took root. Freeman acquired legal representation in Massachusetts and sued for her right to be free. She became the first African American to win her freedom from the courts in Massachusetts, leading to abolition of slavery in that state. Learn more about Freeman’s life from the National Women’s History Museum and from the New-York Historical Society .

Judith Sargent Murray

Born into a wealthy family in 1751, Judith Sargent Murray was curious and intelligent, but was not permitted to attend school because of her gender. Undeterred, she turned to her family’s extensive library and became a self-taught intellectual and writer. Murray was a radical (at the time) advocate for white women’s rights, declaring that men and women held equal ability if given equal access to education. Murray penned her first essay, “On the Equality of the Sexes,” in 1770—it was finally published 20 years later.

This Facing History Reading , included in our US History Curriculum Collection , excerpts “On the Equality of the Sexes” and offers questions and exercises for deeper reflection and connection to the text. The entire essay can be found here .

Learn more about Murray’s life from the National Women’s History Museum .

Suffragettes and the Right to Vote

Frances ellen watkins harper.

In 1825 Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born to free African American parents. Following the death of her parents, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, the latter of whom was an impassioned abolitionist. As a young adult she was mentored by her uncle’s friend William Still known as the “father of the Underground Railroad.” Harper then became a strong voice in the anti-slavery movement and a fierce supporter of women’s rights, publishing works based on these ideals and delivering speeches across the country.

This Facing History Reading excerpts one of her most famous speeches and offers connection questions for deeper learning.

Learn more about Harper’s life from  the National Women’s History Museum .

Emmeline Pankhurst

It is perhaps no surprise that Emmeline Pankhurst became among the most influential suffragists in Great Britain. Born in 1858, she was raised by parents committed to the full expansion of rights to women. She went on to found the Women’s Franchise League and later the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) whose famous slogan was “Deeds not Words.” Pankhurst threw her body and mind into the suffrage cause including participating in a hunger strike and being jailed on multiple occasions for her provocative protests.

This Facing History Handout on Women in Edwardian Society includes excerpts from Pankhurt’s “Freedom or Death” speech and offers a wide range of connection questions.

Learn more about Pankhurst’s life from the National Park Service .

The Pursuit for Civil Rights and Racial Equality

Anti-apartheid movement.

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning “apartness.” South Africans abolished slavery in 1834, but the colonial influence on the country made segregation the de facto state. It wasn’t until the National Party, which ran on a platform of Afrikaner nationalism, won the 1948 South African election that segregation was codified by law. One way that Black women in South Africa pushed back on segregationist policies was to protest the limitations placed on the free movement of Black Africans in the country. The 1950s saw the formation of the Federation of South African Women. In 1956 this grassroots movement enjoined a crowd 20,000 strong to march to Pretoria. Facing History’s Confronting Apartheid Collection provides a comprehensive set of lessons to explore critical moments in South Africa's history. This collection includes the Reading:  Women Rise Up Against Apartheid and Change the Movement .

Mamie Till-Mobley

Mamie Carthan was born in Mississippi in 1921, but as a toddler she moved just outside of Chicago, Illinois with her parents. On July 25, 1941 she gave birth to her only child, Emmett Till. In the summer of 1955, when Emmett was 14, Mamie dropped her son off at the train station in Chicago to go visit her Uncle Moses’s farm in Mississippi and spend some time with family. He never came home. On August 28 Emmett was brutally murdered by a group of white men, led by the husband of a shopkeeper who was incensed that the young boy had allegedly whistled at his wife. The horrific death of her son, and the subsequent acquittal of Emmett’s murderers, resulted in Mamie Till-Mobley’s emergence as a leading activist for the civil rights movement.

Facing History’s “I Wanted the Whole World to See”: The Murder of Emmett Till Unit includes the following moving accounts of Mamie Till-Mobley as a mother and a civil rights pioneer. Reading: “ I Knew I Had to Give Him the Talk ” Lesson: " A Rallying Cry and a Cause "

Today’s Global Advocates for Human Rights

Anti-war sudanese organizers.

During the 30 year rule of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudanese women came out multiple times to protest the abhorrent treatment of women under his regime, often in open defiance of their family or the law. In 2019 it was estimated that two-thirds of Sudanese protesters were women. The military coup d'état in 2019 prompted the current devastating civil war between rival factions in Sudan, and again women face the biggest obstacles among the violence. Almost 90% of Sudanese people seeking refugee status in neighboring Chad are women. Learn more about the plight of Sudanese women today in these articles from Al Jazeera and the Norwegian Refugee Council . A look at the freedom and peace efforts of Sudanese women can be seen in these reports from the Christian Michelsen Institute and ReliefWeb .

Protest against the Islamic Republic of Iran's Regime

The 2022 arrest and death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Jhina Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police has led to what some are calling a new Iranian Revolution. Since Amini’s death the people of Iran—including a flood of girls and women who have risked the same fate—have crowded the streets to demand an end to the brutal tactics and oppressive laws of the theocratic, dictatorial government. Even as the street protests have decreased, Iranian women continue to fight back through acts of civil disobedience including not following the strict veiling regulations or opting to go out publicly without a hijab altogether. The protest call of “Zan, Zendegi, Azadi” (Woman, Life, Freedom - shown above in Kurdish) continues to galvanize the movement, garnering support and participation from Iranians of all backgrounds in Iran and abroad. Learn more about the Iranian women mobilizing government resistance in these articles from Ms. and the Wilson Center . These quotes collected by Women’s Voices Now provide an inspirational glimpse at some of the individuals pushing for change.

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Women's Rights

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Comprehensive argumentative essay example on the rights of women, rachel r.n..

  • February 20, 2024
  • Essay Topics and Ideas

What You'll Learn

Women’s rights have been a significant focal point in the ongoing discourse on social justice and equality. The struggle for women’s rights is deeply rooted in history, marked by milestones and setbacks. While progress has undeniably been made, there remain persistent challenges that necessitate continued advocacy and action. This essay argues that the advancement of women’s rights is not only a matter of justice and equality but also a fundamental imperative for societal progress.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

The historical context of women’s rights is marked by a legacy of systemic discrimination, limited opportunities, and societal norms that perpetuated gender inequality. From the suffragette movement to the fight for reproductive rights, women have consistently challenged oppressive structures. The recognition of women’s rights as human rights, as articulated in international conventions, underscores the global commitment to address historical injustices and promote gender equality.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

One crucial aspect of women’s rights is economic empowerment . The gender pay gap and limited access to economic resources have persisted despite advancements in the workplace. Empowering women economically not only contributes to their individual well-being but also enhances overall societal prosperity. Research consistently demonstrates that economies thrive when women actively participate in the workforce and have equal opportunities for career advancement.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

Education is a powerful catalyst for social change, and ensuring equal access to education for girls and women is integral to advancing women’s rights. When women are educated, they become catalysts for positive change within their communities. Educated women are more likely to make informed decisions about their lives, contribute meaningfully to society, and break the cycle of poverty.

Rights Securing women’s rights includes safeguarding their reproductive health and rights. Access to comprehensive healthcare, including reproductive services, is essential for women to have control over their bodies and make autonomous choices about family planning. Policies that prioritize women’s health contribute to a healthier and more equitable society.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

Violence Against Women Addressing and preventing violence against women is a critical component of the women’s rights agenda. Gender-based violence not only inflicts harm on individual women but also perpetuates a culture of fear and inequality. Legal frameworks, awareness campaigns, and support services are essential tools in combating violence against women and ensuring their safety and well-being.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

In conclusion, the advancement of women’s rights is not only a moral imperative but also a crucial factor in fostering societal progress. A comprehensive approach that addresses historical injustices, economic disparities, educational opportunities, reproductive rights, and violence against women is essential. As we strive for a more equitable future, it is imperative that individuals, communities, and governments actively support and promote women’s rights, recognizing that the empowerment of women is synonymous with the advancement of society as a whole.(Comprehensive Argumentative essay example on the Rights of Women)

80 Topic Ideas for Your Argumentative Essay

  • Universal Basic Income
  • Climate Change and Environmental Policies
  • Gun Control Laws
  • Legalization of Marijuana
  • Capital Punishment
  • Immigration Policies
  • Healthcare Reform
  • Artificial Intelligence Ethics
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Online Education vs. Traditional Education
  • Animal Testing
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Social Media Impact on Society
  • Gender Pay Gap
  • Affirmative Action
  • Censorship in the Media
  • Genetic Engineering and Designer Babies
  • Mandatory Vaccinations
  • Electoral College vs. Popular Vote
  • Police Brutality and Reform
  • School Uniforms
  • Space Exploration Funding
  • Internet Neutrality
  • Autonomous Vehicles and Ethics
  • Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
  • Racial Profiling
  • Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
  • Cultural Appropriation
  • Socialism vs. Capitalism
  • Mental Health Stigma
  • Income Inequality
  • Renewable Energy Sources
  • Legalization of Prostitution
  • Affirmative Consent Laws
  • Education Funding
  • Prescription Drug Prices
  • Parental Leave Policies
  • Ageism in the Workplace
  • Single-payer Healthcare System
  • Bullying Prevention in Schools
  • Government Surveillance
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Nuclear Disarmament
  • GMO Labeling
  • Workplace Diversity
  • Obesity and Public Health
  • Immigration and Border Security
  • Free Speech on College Campuses
  • Alternative Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine
  • Childhood Vaccination Requirements
  • Mass Surveillance
  • Renewable Energy Subsidies
  • Cultural Diversity in Education
  • Youth and Political Engagement
  • School Vouchers
  • Social Justice Warriors
  • Internet Addiction
  • Human Cloning
  • Artistic Freedom vs. Cultural Sensitivity
  • College Admissions Policies
  • Cyberbullying
  • Privacy in the Digital Age
  • Nuclear Power Plants Safety
  • Cultural Impact of Video Games
  • Aging Population and Healthcare
  • Animal Rights
  • Obesity and Personal Responsibility
  • Reproductive Rights
  • Charter Schools
  • Military Spending
  • Immigration and Economic Impact
  • Mandatory Military Service
  • Workplace Harassment Policies
  • Cultural Globalization
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Immigration Detention Centers
  • Antibiotic Resistance
  • Internet Censorship
  • Discrimination in the Workplace
  • Space Colonization

Brownlee, K. (2020). Being sure of each other: an essay on social rights and freedoms. Oxford University Press, USA. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=kTjpDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Argumentative+essay+example+on+the+Rights+of+Women&ots=oysLrPE6ux&sig=ANTnu_5AH4_3PMfGG0XdMzxBpLA

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277 Feminism Topics & Women’s Rights Essay Topics

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  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 2272 words
  • Icon Clock 11 min read

Feminism topics encompass a comprehensive range of themes centered on advocating for gender equality. These themes critically address the social, political, and economic injustices primarily faced by females, aiming to dismantle patriarchal norms. Feminism topics may span from intersectional feminism, which underscores the diverse experiences of women across various intersections of race, class, and sexuality, to reproductive rights that advocate for women’s bodily autonomy and healthcare accessibility. They also involve the examination of workplace discrimination through concepts, such as the gender wage gap and the glass ceiling. Violence against women, including work and domestic abuse, sexual assault, and harassment, is a hot aspect, providing many discussions. In turn, one may explore the representation of women in media, politics, and STEM fields. Explorations of gender roles, gender identity, and the significance of male feminism are integral parts of these discussions. As society continues to evolve, feminism topics persistently adapt to confront and address emerging forms of gender inequality.

Best Feminism & Women’s Rights Topics

  • Achievements of Women in Politics: A Global Perspective
  • Emphasizing Gender Equality in the 21st-Century Workplace
  • Evolving Representation of Women in Media
  • Fight for Women’s Voting Rights: The Historical Analysis
  • Intersectionality: Examining its Role in Feminism
  • Unpacking Feminism in Third-World Countries
  • Dissecting Misogyny in Classical Literature
  • Influence of Religion on Women’s Rights Worldwide
  • Unveiling Bias in STEM Fields: Female Experiences
  • Gender Pay Gap: Global Comparisons and Solutions
  • Probing the Historical Evolution of Feminism
  • Reshaping Beauty Standards Through Feminist Discourse
  • Importance of Reproductive Rights in Women’s Health
  • Exploring Women’s Role in Environmental Activism
  • Glass Ceiling Phenomenon: Women in Corporate Leadership
  • Trans Women’s Struggles in Feminist Movements
  • Empowering Girls: The Role of Education
  • Intersection of Race, Class, and Feminism
  • Effects of Feminism on Modern Art
  • Impacts of Social Media on Women’s Rights Movements
  • Deconstructing Patriarchy in Traditional Societies
  • Single Mothers’ Challenges: A Feminist Perspective
  • Dynamics of Feminism in Post-Colonial Societies
  • Queer Women’s Struggles for Recognition and Rights
  • Women’s Contributions to Scientific Discovery: An Underrated History
  • Cybersecurity: Ensuring Women’s Safety in the Digital Age
  • Exploring the Misrepresentation of Feminism in Popular Culture
  • Repositioning Sexuality: The Role of Feminism in Health Discourse
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Impact of Microfinance
  • Investigating Sexism in Video Gaming Industry
  • Female Leadership During Global Crises: Case Studies

Feminism Topics & Women’s Rights Essay Topics

Easy Feminism & Women’s Rights Topics

  • Power of Women’s Protest: A Historical Study
  • Feminist Movements’ Role in Shaping Public Policy
  • Body Autonomy: A Key Aspect of Feminist Ideology
  • Cyber Feminism: Women’s Rights in Digital Spaces
  • Violence Against Women: International Legal Measures
  • Feminist Pedagogy: Its Impact on Education
  • Depiction of Women in Graphic Novels: A Feminist Lens
  • Comparing Western and Eastern Feminist Movements
  • Men’s Roles in Supporting Feminist Movements
  • Impacts of Feminism on Marriage Institutions
  • Rural Women’s Rights: Challenges and Progress
  • Understanding Feminist Waves: From First to Fourth
  • Inclusion of Women in Peace Negotiation Processes
  • Influence of Feminism on Modern Advertising
  • Indigenous Women’s Movements and Rights
  • Reclaiming Public Spaces: Women’s Safety Concerns
  • Roles of Feminist Literature in Social Change
  • Women in Sports: Overcoming Stereotypes and Bias
  • Feminism in the Context of Refugee Rights
  • Media’s Roles in Shaping Feminist Narratives
  • Women’s Rights in Prisons: An Overlooked Issue
  • Motherhood Myths: A Feminist Examination
  • Subverting the Male Gaze in Film and Television
  • Feminist Critique of Traditional Masculinity Norms
  • Rise of Female Entrepreneurship: A Feminist View
  • Young Feminists: Shaping the Future of Women’s Rights

Interesting Feminism & Women’s Rights Topics

  • Roles of Feminism in Promoting Mental Health Awareness
  • Aging and Women’s Rights: An Overlooked Dimension
  • Feminist Perspectives on Climate Change Impacts
  • Women’s Rights in Military Service: Progress and Challenges
  • Achieving Gender Parity in Academic Publishing
  • Feminist Jurisprudence: Its Impact on Legal Structures
  • Masculinity in Crisis: Understanding the Feminist Perspective
  • Fashion Industry’s Evolution through Feminist Ideals
  • Unheard Stories: Women in the Global Space Race
  • Effects of Migration on Women’s Rights and Opportunities
  • Women’s Land Rights: A Global Issue
  • Intersection of Feminism and Disability Rights
  • Portrayal of Women in Science Fiction: A Feminist Review
  • Analyzing Post-Feminism: Its Origins and Implications
  • Cyberbullying and Its Impact on Women: Measures for Protection
  • Unveiling Gender Bias in Artificial Intelligence
  • Reimagining Domestic Work Through the Lens of Feminism
  • Black Women’s Hair Politics: A Feminist Perspective
  • Feminist Ethical Considerations in Biomedical Research
  • Promoting Gender Sensitivity in Children’s Literature
  • Understanding the Phenomenon of Toxic Femininity
  • Reconsidering Women’s Rights in the Context of Climate Migration
  • Advancing Women’s Participation in Political Activism

Feminism Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Intersectionality’s Impact on Modern Feminism
  • Evolution of Feminist Thought: From First-Wave to Fourth-Wave
  • Gender Wage Gap: Myths and Realities
  • Workplace Discrimination: Tackling Unconscious Bias
  • Feminist Theory’s Influence on Contemporary Art
  • Intersection of Feminism and Environmental Activism
  • Men’s Roles in the Feminist Movement
  • Objectification in Media: A Feminist Perspective
  • Misconceptions about Feminism: Addressing Stereotypes
  • Feminism in the Classroom: The Role of Education
  • Feminist Analysis of Reproductive Rights Policies
  • Transgender Rights: An Extension of Feminism
  • Intersection of Feminism and Racial Justice
  • Body Shaming Culture: A Feminist Viewpoint
  • Feminism’s Influence on Modern Advertising
  • Patriarchy and Religion: A Feminist Critique
  • Domestic Labor: Feminist Perspectives on Unpaid Work
  • Sexism in Sports: The Need for Feminist Intervention
  • The MeToo Movement’s Influence on Modern Feminism
  • Feminism and the Fight for Equal Representation in Politics
  • Women’s Rights in the Digital Age: A Feminist Examination
  • Feminist Critique of Traditional Beauty Standards
  • Globalization and Its Effects on Women’s Rights
  • The Role of Feminism in LGBTQ+ Rights Advocacy
  • Popular Culture and Its Reflection on Feminist Values

Controversial Feminist Research Paper Topics

  • Intersectionality in Modern Feminist Movements: An Analysis
  • Representation of Women in High-Powered Political Roles
  • Cultural Appropriation Within the Feminist Movement: An Inquiry
  • The Role of Feminism in Defining Beauty Standards
  • Women’s Reproductive Rights: A Debate of Autonomy
  • Feminism and Religion: The Question of Compatibility
  • Male Allies in the Feminist Movement: An Evaluation
  • Shift in Traditional Gender Roles: Feminist Perspective
  • Impacts of Media on Perceptions of Feminism
  • Dissecting the Wage Gap: A Feminist Examination
  • Menstrual Equity: A Battle for Feminist Activists
  • Feminism in Popular Music: Power or Appropriation?
  • Climate Change: The Unseen Feminist Issue
  • Education’s Role in Shaping Feminist Beliefs
  • Power Dynamics in the Workplace: A Feminist Scrutiny
  • Cyber-Feminism: Harnessing Digital Spaces for Activism
  • Healthcare Disparities Faced by Women: An Analysis
  • Transgender Women in Feminist Discourse: An Exploration
  • Feminist Perspectives on Monogamy and Polyamory
  • Feminist Analysis of Modern Advertising Campaigns
  • Exploring Sexism in the Film Industry through a Feminist Lens
  • Debunking Myths Surrounding the Feminist Movement
  • Childcare Responsibilities and Their Feminist Implications
  • Women’s Sports: Evaluating Equity and Feminist Advocacy

Feminist Research Paper Topics in Feminism Studies

  • Evaluating Feminist Theories: From Radical to Liberal
  • Women’s Health Care: Policies and Disparities
  • Maternal Mortality: A Global Women’s Rights Issue
  • Uncovering Sexism in the Tech Industry
  • Critique of Binary Gender Roles in Children’s Toys
  • Body Positivity Movement’s Influence on Feminism
  • Relevance of Feminism in the Fight Against Human Trafficking
  • Women in Coding: Breaking Stereotypes
  • The Role of Women in Sustainable Agriculture
  • Feminism in the Cosmetics Industry: A Dual-Edged Sword
  • The Influence of Feminism on Modern Architecture
  • Bridging the Gap: Women in Higher Education Leadership
  • The Role of Feminism in Advancing LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Menstrual Equity: A Key Women’s Rights Issue
  • Women in Classical Music: Breaking Barriers
  • Analyzing Gendered Language: A Feminist Approach
  • Women’s Rights and Humanitarian Aid: The Interconnection
  • Exploring the Role of Women in Graphic Design
  • Addressing the Lack of Women in Venture Capitalism
  • Impact of Feminism on Urban Planning and Design
  • Maternal Labor in the Informal Economy: A Feminist Analysis
  • Feminism’s Influence on Modern Dance Forms
  • Exploring the Role of Women in the Renewable Energy Sector
  • Women in Esports: An Emerging Frontier
  • Child Marriage: A Grave Violation of Women’s Rights

Feminist Topics for Discussion

  • Feminist Criticism of the Fashion Modelling Industry
  • Domestic Violence: Feminist Legal Responses
  • Analyzing the Success of Women-Only Workspaces
  • Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Human Rights Issue
  • Women’s Role in the Evolution of Cryptocurrency
  • Women and the Right to Water: A Feminist Perspective
  • Gender Stereotypes in Comedy: A Feminist View
  • Intersection of Animal Rights and Feminist Theory
  • Roles of Feminism in the Fight Against Child Labor
  • Representation of Women in Folklore and Mythology
  • Women’s Rights in the Gig Economy: Issues and Solutions
  • Revisiting Feminism in Post-Soviet Countries
  • Women in the Space Industry: Present Status and Future Trends
  • The Influence of Feminism on Culinary Arts
  • Unraveling the Impact of Fast Fashion on Women Workers
  • Feminist Perspectives on Genetic Engineering and Reproduction
  • Assessing the Progress of Women’s Financial Literacy
  • Sex Work and Feminism: A Controversial Discourse
  • Women in Cybernetics: An Untapped Potential
  • Uncovering the Women Behind Major Historical Events
  • The Impact of the #MeToo Movement Globally
  • Women’s Rights in the Cannabis Industry: Challenges and Progress
  • Redefining Motherhood: The Intersection of Feminism and Adoption
  • Roles of Feminist Movements in Combatting Child Abuse

Women’s Rights Essay Topics for Feminism

  • Evolution of Women’s Rights in the 20th Century
  • Roles of Women in World War II: Catalyst for Change
  • Suffrage Movement: Driving Force Behind Women’s Empowerment
  • Cultural Differences in Women’s Rights: A Comparative Study
  • Feminist Movements and Their Global Impact
  • Women’s Rights in Islamic Societies: Perceptions and Realities
  • Glass Ceiling Phenomenon: Analysis and Impacts
  • Pioneering Women in Science: Trailblazers for Equality
  • Impacts of Media Portrayal on Women’s Rights
  • Economic Autonomy for Women: Pathway to Empowerment
  • Women’s Rights in Education: Global Perspective
  • Gender Equality in Politics: Global Progress
  • Intersectionality and Women’s Rights: Race, Class, and Gender
  • Legal Milestones in Women’s Rights History
  • Inequities in Healthcare: A Women’s Rights Issue
  • Modern-Day Slavery: Women and Human Trafficking
  • Climate Change: A Unique Threat to Women’s Rights
  • Body Autonomy and Reproductive Rights: A Feminist Analysis
  • Globalization’s Effect on Women’s Rights: Opportunities and Threats
  • Gender Violence: An Erosion of Women’s Rights
  • Indigenous Women’s Rights: Struggles and Triumphs
  • Women’s Rights Activists: Unsung Heroes of History
  • Empowerment Through Sports: Women’s Struggle and Success
  • Balancing Act: Motherhood and Career in the 21st Century
  • LGBTQ+ Women: Rights and Recognition in Different Societies

Women’s Rights Research Questions

  • Evolution of Feminism: How Has the Movement Shifted Over Time?
  • The Workplace and Gender Equality: How Effective Are Current Measures?
  • Intersectionality’s Influence: How Does It Shape Women’s Rights Advocacy?
  • Reproductive Rights: What Is the Global Impact on Women’s Health?
  • Media Representation: Does It Affect Women’s Rights Perception?
  • Gender Stereotypes: How Do They Impede Women’s Empowerment?
  • Global Disparities: Why Do Women’s Rights Vary So Widely?
  • Maternal Mortality: How Does It Reflect on Women’s Healthcare Rights?
  • Education for Girls: How Does It Contribute to Gender Equality?
  • Cultural Norms: How Do They Influence Women’s Rights?
  • Leadership Roles: Are Women Adequately Represented in Positions of Power?
  • Domestic Violence Laws: Are They Sufficient to Protect Women’s Rights?
  • Roles of Technology: How Does It Impact Women’s Rights?
  • Sexual Harassment Policies: How Effective Are They in Protecting Women?
  • Pay Equity: How Can It Be Ensured for Women Globally?
  • Politics and Gender: How Does Women’s Representation Shape Policy-Making?
  • Child Marriage: How Does It Violate Girls’ Rights?
  • Climate Change: How Does It Disproportionately Affect Women?
  • Trafficking Scourge: How Can Women’s Rights Combat This Issue?
  • Female Genital Mutilation: How Does It Contradict Women’s Rights?
  • Armed Conflicts: How Do They Impact Women’s Rights?
  • Body Autonomy: How Can It Be Safeguarded for Women?
  • Women’s Suffrage: How Did It Pave the Way for Modern Women’s Rights?
  • Men’s Role: How Can They Contribute to Women’s Rights Advocacy?
  • Legal Frameworks: How Do They Support or Hinder Women’s Rights?

History of Women’s Rights Topics

  • Emergence of Feminism in the 19th Century
  • Roles of Women in the Abolitionist Movement
  • Suffragette Movements: Triumphs and Challenges
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Advocacy for Women’s Rights
  • Impacts of World War II on Women’s Liberation
  • Radical Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Pioneering Women in Politics: The First Female Senators
  • Inception of the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Revolutionary Women’s Health Activism
  • Struggle for Reproductive Freedom: Roe vs. Wade
  • Birth of the Women’s Liberation Movement
  • Challenges Women Faced in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Women’s Roles in the Trade Union Movement
  • Intersectionality and Feminism: Examining the Role of Women of Color
  • How Did the Women’s Rights Movement Impact Education?
  • Sexuality, Identity, and Feminism: Stonewall Riots’ Impact
  • Influence of Religion on Women’s Rights Activism
  • Women’s Empowerment: The UN Conferences
  • Impact of Globalization on Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Movements in Non-Western Countries
  • Women in Space: The Fight for Equality in NASA
  • Achievements of Feminist Literature and Arts
  • Evolution of the Women’s Sports Movement
  • Advancement of Women’s Rights in the Digital Age
  • Cultural Shifts: The Media’s Role in Promoting Women’s Rights

Feminism Essay Topics on Women’s Issues

  • Career Challenges: The Gender Wage Gap in Contemporary Society
  • Examining Microfinance: An Empowering Tool for Women in Developing Countries
  • Pioneers of Change: The Role of Women in the Space Industry
  • Exploring Beauty Standards: An Analysis of Global Perspectives
  • Impacts of Legislation: Progress in Women’s Health Policies
  • Maternity Leave Policies: A Comparative Study of Different Countries
  • Resilience Through Struggles: The Plight of Female Refugees
  • Technology’s Influence: Addressing the Digital Gender Divide
  • Dissecting Stereotypes: Gender Roles in Children’s Media
  • Influence of Female Leaders: A Look at Political Empowerment
  • Social Media and Women: Effects on Mental Health
  • Understanding Intersectionality: The Complexity of Women’s Rights
  • Single Mothers: Balancing Parenthood and Economic Challenges
  • Gaining Ground in Sports: A Look at Female Athletes’ Struggles
  • Maternal Mortality: The Hidden Health Crisis
  • Reproductive Rights: Women’s Control Over Their Bodies
  • Feminism in Literature: Portrayal of Women in Classic Novels
  • Deconstructing Patriarchy: The Impact of Gender Inequality
  • Body Autonomy: The Battle for Abortion Rights
  • Women in STEM: Barriers and Breakthroughs
  • Female Soldiers: Their Role in Military Conflicts
  • Human Trafficking: The Disproportionate Impact on Women
  • Silent Victims: Domestic Violence and Women’s Health

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Human Rights Careers

10 Essential Essays About Women’s Reproductive Rights

“Reproductive rights” let a person decide whether they want to have children, use contraception, or terminate a pregnancy. Reproductive rights also include access to sex education and reproductive health services. Throughout history, the reproductive rights of women in particular have been restricted. Girls and women today still face significant challenges. In places that have seen reproductive rights expand, protections are rolling back. Here are ten essential essays about reproductive rights:

“Our Bodies, Ourselves: Reproductive Rights”

bell hooks Published in Feminism Is For Everyone (2014)

This essay opens strong: when the modern feminism movement started, the most important issues were the ones linked to highly-educated and privileged white women. The sexual revolution led the way, with “free love” as shorthand for having as much sex as someone wanted with whoever they wanted. This naturally led to the issue of unwanted pregnancies. Birth control and abortions were needed.

Sexual freedom isn’t possible without access to safe, effective birth control and the right to safe, legal abortion. However, other reproductive rights like prenatal care and sex education were not as promoted due to class bias. Including these other rights more prominently might have, in hooks’ words, “galvanized the masses.” The right to abortion in particular drew the focus of mass media. Including other reproductive issues would mean a full reckoning about gender and women’s bodies. The media wasn’t (and arguably still isn’t) ready for that.

“Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”

Angela Davis Published in Women, Race, & Class (1981)

Davis’ essay covers the birth control movement in detail, including its race-based history. Davis argues that birth control always included racism due to the belief that poor women (specifically poor Black and immigrant women) had a “moral obligation” to birth fewer children. Race was also part of the movement from the beginning because only wealthy white women could achieve the goals (like more economic and political freedom) driving access to birth control.

In light of this history, Davis emphasizes that the fight for reproductive freedom hasn’t led to equal victories. In fact, the movements driving the gains women achieved actively neglected racial inequality. One clear example is how reproductive rights groups ignored forced sterilization within communities of color. Davis ends her essay with a call to end sterilization abuse.

“Reproductive Justice, Not Just Rights”

Dorothy Roberts Published in Dissent Magazine (2015)

Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body and Fatal Invention , describes attending the March for Women’s Lives. She was especially happy to be there because co-sponsor SisterSong (a collective founded by 16 organizations led by women of color) shifted the focus from “choice” to “social justice.” Why does this matter? Roberts argues that the rhetoric of “choice” favors women who have options that aren’t available to low-income women, especially women of color. Conservatives face criticism for their stance on reproductive rights, but liberals also cause harm when they frame birth control as the solution to global “overpopulation” or lean on fetal anomalies as an argument for abortion choice.

Instead of “the right to choose,” a reproductive justice framework is necessary. This requires a living wage, universal healthcare, and prison abolition. Reproductive justice goes beyond the current pro-choice/anti-choice rhetoric that still favors the privileged.

“The Color of Choice: White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice”

Loretta J. Ross, SisterSong Published in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (2016)

White supremacy in the United States has always created different outcomes for its ethnic populations. The method? Population control. Ross points out that even a glance at reproductive politics in the headlines makes it clear that some women are encouraged to have more children while others are discouraged. Ross defines “reproductive justice,” which goes beyond the concept of “rights.” Reproductive justice is when reproductive rights are “embedded in a human rights and social justice framework.”

In the essay, Ross explores topics like white supremacy and population control on both the right and left sides of politics. She acknowledges that while the right is often blunter in restricting women of color and their fertility, white supremacy is embedded in both political aisles. The essay closes with a section on mobilizing for reproductive justice, describing SisterSong (where Ross is a founding member) and the March for Women’s Lives in 2004.

“Abortion Care Is Not Just For Cis Women”

Sachiko Ragosta Published in Ms. Magazine (2021)

Cisgender women are the focus of abortion and reproductive health services even though nonbinary and trans people access these services all the time. In their essay, Ragosta describes the criticism Ibis Reproductive Health received when it used the term “pregnant people.” The term alienates women, the critics said, but acting as if only cis women need reproductive care is simply inaccurate. As Ragosta writes, no one is denying that cis women experience pregnancy. The reaction to more inclusive language around pregnancy and abortion reveals a clear bias against trans people.

Normalizing terms like “pregnant people” help spaces become more inclusive, whether it’s in research, medical offices, or in day-to-day life. Inclusiveness leads to better health outcomes, which is essential considering the barriers nonbinary and gender-expansive people face in general and sexual/reproductive care.

“We Cannot Leave Black Women, Trans People, and Gender Expansive People Behind: Why We Need Reproductive Justice”

Karla Mendez Published in Black Women Radicals

Mendez, a freelance writer and (and the time of the essay’s publication) a student studying Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science, and Women’s and Gender Studies, responds to the Texas abortion ban. Terms like “reproductive rights” and “abortion rights” are part of the mainstream white feminist movement, but the benefits of birth control and abortions are not equal. Also, as the Texas ban shows, these benefits are not secure. In the face of this reality, it’s essential to center Black people of all genders.

In her essay, Mendez describes recent restrictive legislation and the failure of the reproductive rights movement to address anti-Blackness, transphobia, food insecurity, and more. Groups like SisterSong have led the way on reproductive justice. As reproductive rights are eroded in the United States, the reproductive rights movement needs to focus on justice.

“Gee’s Bend: A Reproductive Justice Quilt Story From the South”

Mary Lee Bendolph Published in Radical Reproductive Justice (2017)

One of Mary Lee Bendolph’s quilt designs appears as the cover of Radical Reproductive Justice. She was one of the most important strip quilters associated with Gee’s Bend, Alabama. During the Civil Rights era, the 700 residents of Gee’s Bend were isolated and found it hard to vote or gain educational and economic power outside the village. Bendolph’s work didn’t become well-known outside her town until the mid-1990s.

Through an interview by the Souls Grown Foundation, we learn that Bendolph didn’t receive any sex education as a girl. When she became pregnant in sixth grade, she had to stop attending school. “They say it was against the law for a lady to go to school and be pregnant,” she said, because it would influence the other kids. “Soon as you have a baby, you couldn’t never go to school again.”

“Underground Activists in Brazil Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights”

Alejandra Marks Published in The North American Congress on Latin America (2021)

While short, this essay provides a good introduction to abortion activism in Brazil, where abortion is legal only in the case of rape, fetal anencephaly, or when a woman’s life is at risk. The reader meets “Taís,” a single mother faced with an unwanted pregnancy. With no legal options, she researched methods online, including teas and pills. She eventually connected with a lawyer and activist who walked her through using Cytotec, a medication she got online. The activist stayed on the phone while Taís completed her abortion at home.

For decades, Latin American activists have helped pregnant people get abortion medications while wealthy Brazilians enter private clinics or travel to other countries. Government intimidation makes activism risky, but the stakes are high. Hundreds of Brazilians die each year from dangerous abortion methods. In the past decade, religious conservatives in Congress have blocked even mild reform. Even if a new president is elected, Brazil’s abortion rights movement will fight an uphill battle.

“The Ambivalent Activist”

Lauren Groff Published in Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 years of Landmark ACLU Cases (2020)

Before Roe v. Wade, abortion regulation around the country was spotty. 37 states still had near-bans on the procedure while only four states had repealed anti-abortion laws completely. In her essay, Groff summarizes the case in accessible, engaging prose. The “Jane Roe” of the case was Norma McCorvey. When she got pregnant, she’d already had two children, one of whom she’d given up for adoption. McCorvey couldn’t access an abortion provider because the pregnancy didn’t endanger her life. She eventually connected with two attorneys: Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. In 1973 on January 2, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that abortion was a fundamental right.

Norma McCorvey was a complicated woman. She later became an anti-choice activist (in an interview released after her death, she said Evangelical anti-choice groups paid her to switch her position), but as Groff writes, McCorvey had once been proud that it was her case that gave women bodily autonomy.

“The Abortion I Didn’t Want”

Caitlin McDonnell Published in Salon (2015) and Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (2020)

While talking about abortion is less demonized than in the past, it’s still fairly unusual to hear directly from people who’ve experienced it. It’s certainly unusual to hear more complicated stories. Caitlin McDonnell, a poet and teacher from Brooklyn, shares her experience. In clear, raw prose, this piece brings home what can be an abstract “issue” for people who haven’t experienced it or been close to someone who has.

In debates about abortion rights, those who carry the physical and emotional effects are often neglected. Their complicated feelings are weaponized to serve agendas or make judgments about others. It’s important to read essays like McDonnell’s and hear stories as nuanced and multi-faceted as humans themselves.

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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

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Women's Rights in Today's Society

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Published: Nov 19, 2018

Words: 1636 | Pages: 4 | 9 min read

Feminism as a Defense of Women's Rights in Today's Society

Personal thoughts and conclusions, women’s rights essay outline.

1) Introduction

  • Personal connection and significance of the topic
  • The significance of women’s rights and feminism in contemporary society

2) Historical Context

  • Women’s historical lack of legal and political rights
  • Persistent gender inequality

3) Feminism Defined

  • Political, economic, and social gender equality
  • Debunking common misconceptions
  • Ashley Judd’s speech as an example of feminist activism

4) Gender Pay Gap

  • Overview of the wage gap
  • Disparities for women of color
  • Unequal benefits and contraceptive costs

5) Gendered Pricing

  • Gender-based pricing in consumer goods
  • Economic impact on women
  • Reasons behind gendered pricing

6) Media’s Role

  • Media’s influence on feminist perceptions
  • Social media and feminist movements
  • Addressing media-generated stereotypes

7) Opposition to Feminism

  • Recognizing feminism’s critics
  • Analyzing anti-feminist arguments

8) Sexual Harassment

  • Prevalence and definition
  • Impact on victims
  • Importance of a safe reporting environment

9) Personal Experience and Conclusion

  • Sharing a personal experience related to sexual harassment
  • Reflecting on the impact
  • Emphasizing the urgency of gender equality
  • Reiterating the importance of women’s rights and feminism

10) Works Cited

Works Cited

  • Adichie, C. N. (2014). We should all be feminists. Anchor Books.
  • Hooks, B. (2000). Feminism is for everybody: Passionate politics. Pluto Press.
  • The National Organization for Women. (2021). Women’s Rights. https://now.org/issues/
  • Steinem, G. (2015). My life on the road. Random House.
  • United Nations Development Programme. (2021). Gender equality. https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-5-gender-equality.html
  • Davis, A. Y. (2016). Freedom is a constant struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the foundations of a movement. Haymarket Books.
  • Federici, S. (2019). Caliban and the witch: Women, the body and primitive accumulation. Verso Books.
  • Shetterly, M. L. (2016). Hidden figures: The American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. HarperCollins.
  • Johnson, A. G. (2014). The gender knot: Unraveling our patriarchal legacy. Temple University Press.
  • Orenstein, P. (2012). Cinderella ate my daughter: Dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture. HarperCollins.

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Collection Civil Rights History Project

Women in the civil rights movement.

Many women played important roles in the Civil Rights Movement, from leading local civil rights organizations to serving as lawyers on school segregation lawsuits. Their efforts to lead the movement were often overshadowed by men, who still get more attention and credit for its successes in popular historical narratives and commemorations.  Many women experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the movement and later turned towards the feminist movement in the 1970s.  The Civil Rights History Project interviews with participants in the struggle include both expressions of pride in women’s achievements and also candid assessments about the difficulties they faced within the movement.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and one of three women chosen to be a field director for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.  She discusses the difficulties she faced in this position and notes that gender equality was not a given, but had to be fought for:  “I often had to struggle around issues related to a woman being a project director.  We had to fight for the resources, you know.  We had to fight to get a good car because the guys would get first dibs on everything, and that wasn’t fair…it was a struggle to be taken seriously by the leadership, as well as by your male colleagues.” She continues, “One of the things that we often don’t talk about, but there was sexual harassment that often happened toward the women.  And so, that was one of the things that, you know, I took a stand on, that ‘This was not – we’re not going to get a consensus on this.  There is not going to be sexual harassment of any of the women on this project or any of the women in this community.  And you will be put out if you do it.’”

Lonnie King was an activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Atlanta. He remembers meeting other students from the Nashville movement when SNCC became a nationwide organization in 1960. He recalls his surprise that Diane Nash was not elected to be the representative from Nashville, and echoes Simmons’ criticisms about male privilege and domination: “Diane Nash, in my view, was the Nashville movement and by that I mean this:  Others were there, but they weren’t Diane Nash. Diane was articulate; she was a beautiful woman, very photogenic, very committed. And very intelligent and had a following. I never did understand how, except maybe for sexism, I never understood how [James] Bevel, Marion [Barry], and for that matter, John Lewis, kind of leapfrogged over her. I never understood that because she was in fact the leader in Nashville. It was Diane. The others were followers of her… I so never understood that to be honest with you. She’s an unsung... a real unsung hero of the movement in Nashville, in my opinion.”

Ekwueme Michael Thewell was a student at Howard University and a leader of the Nonviolent Action Group, an organization that eventually joined with SNCC. He reflects on the sacrifices that women college students at Howard made in joining the struggle, and remarks on the constraints they faced after doing so: “It is only in retrospect that I recognize the extraordinary price that our sisters paid for being as devoted to the struggle as they were. It meant that they weren’t into homecoming queen kind of activities. That they weren’t into the accepted behavior of a Howard lady. That they weren't into the trivia of fashion and dressing up. Though they were attractive women and they took care of themselves, but they weren’t the kind of trophy wives for the med school students and they weren’t—some of them might have been members of the Greek letter organizations, but most of them I suspect weren’t. So that they occupied a place outside the conventional social norms of the whole university student body. So did the men. But with men, I think, we can just say, ‘Kiss my black ass’ and go on about our business. It wasn’t so clear to me that a woman could do the same thing.”

Older interviewees emphasize the opportunities that were available to an earlier generation of women. Mildred Bond Roxborough , a long-time secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, discusses the importance of women leaders in local branches: “Well, actually when you think about women's contributions to the NAACP, without the women we wouldn't have an NAACP.  The person who was responsible for generating the organizing meeting was a woman.  Of course, ever since then we've had women in key roles--not in the majority, but in the very key roles which were responsible for the evolution of the NAACP.  I think in terms of people like Daisy Lampkin, who was a member of our national board from Pittsburgh; she traveled around the country garnering memberships and helping to organize branches.  That was back in the '30s and '40s before it became fashionable or popular for women to travel.  You have women who subsequently held positions in the NAACP nationally as program directors and as leaders of various divisions.” She goes on to discuss the contributions of many women to the success of the NAACP.

Doris Adelaide Derby , another SNCC activist, remembers that the challenge and urgency of the freedom struggle was a formative experience for young activist women, who had to learn resourcefulness on the job:   “I always did what I wanted to do.  I had my own inner drive.  And I found that when I came up with ideas and I was ready to work to see it through, and I think that happened with a lot of women in SNCC.  We needed all hands on deck, and so, when we found ourselves in situations, we had to rely on whoever was around.  And if somebody had XYZ skills, and somebody only had ABC, we had to come together. We used to joke about that, but in reality, the women, you know, were strong.  In the struggle, the women were strong.”

Ruby Nell Sales , who later overcame psychological traumas from the racial violence she witnessed in the movement, encourages us to look beyond the simplistic story of Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery. As she explains, Parks was a long-time activist who had sought justice for African American women who were frequently assaulted—both verbally and physically-- in their daily lives: “…When we look at Rosa Parks, people often think that she was – she did that because of her civil rights and wanting to sit down on the bus.  But she also did that – it was a rebellion of maids, a rebellion of working class women, who were tired of boarding the buses in Montgomery, the public space, and being assaulted and called out-of-there names and abused by white bus drivers. And that’s why that Movement could hold so long.  If it had just been merely a protest about riding the bus, it might have shattered.  But it went to the very heart of black womanhood, and black women played a major role in sustaining that movement.”

The Civil Rights History Project includes interviews with over 50 women who came from a wide range of backgrounds and were involved in the movement in a myriad of ways. Their stories deepen our understanding of the movement as a whole, and provide us with concrete examples of how vital they were to the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.

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The women’s movement has a long history, and its significance is still relevant and evident in the contemporary world. The campaign aimed at changing the position of women in society by eliminating some cultural practices that were viewed as oppressive to them. The significance of the movement was more evident...

The women’s movement has a long history, and its significance is still relevant and evident in the contemporary world. The campaign aimed at changing the position of women in society by eliminating some cultural practices that were viewed as oppressive to them. The significance of the movement was more evident in the US. The American society was characterized by segregation of women and was treated as unequal to men in every aspect. The social settings dictated the role of women in the community, and they were mostly confined to playing domestic functions such as attending to their husbands and taking care of their children (Gamber 6). The pioneers of the women’s movement were inspired by the need to change women’s situation in society. The movement of women has happened through different waves at different times, and it is still advocating for women’s liberties in contemporary society. The efforts made by the movement of women from the 1950s to the current time have led to the achievement of significant changes regarding the position of women and how they are treated in society.

The main factor that inspired the formation of the women’s movement was to improve their status in the community. For instance, in a society like the US, women were treated differently from men and were not permitted to do certain things that were perceived as purely men’s activities. One such activity was voting, and women were not allowed to vote or participate in any activity related to the election of members (Dzuback 425). The first wave of the feminist movement laid the foundation of the 1950s movement of women. The first wave happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, and its main focus was to advocate for women’s legal rights, majorly the right to vote. The success of the first wave by successfully fighting for women’s rights to vote inspired the next wave of feminism movements. The crusade that started in the 1950s through the ‘60s and ‘70s or the second wave mainly sought equality for women in the community. The actions that were primarily based in the US advocated for equal opportunities and rights for women. Besides, the movement also fought for greater personal freedom for women.

The women’s movement had a broad scope since it focused on improving every aspect that affected women’s lives, particularly in the US. Some of the issues on the list included work, politics, sexuality, and family. The movement achieved a lot, and it is still advocating for women’s rights in contemporary society. Women’s rights were violated, and the movement provided opportunities for women from different backgrounds to fight for their rights. Segregation in employment opportunities was a major concern for women in the US (Tobias 67). Most employers did not give employment opportunities because of the cultural perceptions that undermined women’s role in society. In places where women were employed, they received fewer wages compared to their male counterparts doing the same jobs. A key factor that also inspired the women’s movement in the 1960s was the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (Tobias 63). The book discussed widely the challenges women in American society go through, ranging from the confinement to their homes, unfavorable legal precedents, and gendered discrimination in the distribution of job opportunities and wages. The publication inspired women to fight for their rights and improve their status in society. Women were encouraged to use different approaches to popularize the need to campaign for their liberties on crucial issues that affected them (Gamber 11). One of the commonly used methods was striking and marching in the streets of major towns to catch the government’s attention. One such activity was held on the Women’s Strike Day in 1970, where women marched in Washington DC to advocate for educational opportunities, equal employment, and accessible child care.

The women’s movement recorded immense success that is still enjoyed in the present days. The movement recorded multiple legal victories that transformed the status of women in American society. Some of the legal amendments attributed to women’s movement include the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Levy 22). The act for equal pay demanded that employers should pay their employees equally regardless of their gender. The civil rights act defended women against various actions that amounted to sexual harassment at workplaces. The movement also managed to get the legalization of birth control for married couples. More victories were recorded in the 1970s by compelling the government to formulate laws that safeguarded women’s rights.

The movement was inspired by various factors that necessitated them and others and made it possible to have the movement. Trade union movements that existed in the 1950s onwards played a vital role in the emergence of the second wave of women movement. Trade unions were instrumental in fighting for all workers’ rights to get better pays and other improved employment terms (Munro 14). Women capitalized on their unions’ membership to push for key transformations on issues that affected them directly. Even though trade unions focused on general issues that affected workers, women utilized the opportunity to fight for their rights (Munro 18). Also, the existence of trade union movements at that time had created a friendly environment for activism. Women took advantage of the labor union movements to push for women’s agendas.

The positions of the major political parties in the US played a fundamental role in the formation and operations of the women’s movement. the Republican and Democratic parties were instrumental in pushing for major reforms to improve women’s rights on different aspects. Considering the effects of public debates on American politics, the political parties were compelled to take clear stances about the issues women had raised concerning their liberties. In the 1950s and ’60s, the most dominant public debates were about policies on women’s rights. In the 1950s and 1960s, when the women’s movement had gained momentum, the Democrats and Republicans had conflicting positions about the issues raised by the movement. The Republican party helped advocate for women’s rights in the ’50s and ’60s, while Democrats were mostly against them. The Republicans helped to push the movements’ agenda and helped to pass major precedents in the Congress. In the later years, the parties switched positions, and the Democrats also supported the women’s movement. The Democrats supported policies such as the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights. The combination of such factors significantly impacted the activities and success of the women’s rights movement. A similar trend is still evident today as women continue to fight for increased representation in elective positions (Wiebe 221). The Democrats and Republicans continue to take divergent positions on such public debates towards multiculturalism and inclusion.

The movement of women in the 1950s encountered numerous obstacles that undermined the achievement of their objectives. The dominance of men in influential positions was a major challenge faced by the movement. Men dominated all elective positions, and it was not easy to pursue their agenda through the Congress or Senate. Men were opposed to policy propositions that would make them equal to women (Berrey 67). The public stereotypes about women were also a major obstacle to the movement of women. The public order was based on perceptions that women’s abilities are limited and should not be treated as equals to men in any aspect. Another critical obstacle encountered by the movement was the lack of cooperation from fellow women (Dzuback 426). Such oppositions date back to the first wave of the women’s movement when Josephine Jewell Dodge opposed women’s suffrage through anti-suffragist activism. A similar trend was experienced in the second wave when particularly those aligned to the Democratic political side failed to support certain amendments that aimed at improving the status of women in the community. Nevertheless, the movement managed to achieve multiculturalism and inclusion.

The women’s movement from the 1950s resulted in significant gains in improving women’s status in American society. The movement was created because of the segregation of women that was deeply embedded in the American culture. Some factors that facilitated the feminist crusade’s operations were the existence and participation of women in trade unions, support from political parties, and publications that made women understand their position. Some of the obstacles included dominance by men, opposition by fellow women, and stereotypes about women.

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140 Women’s Rights Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on women’s rights, ✍️ women’s rights essay topics for college, 👍 good women’s rights essay topics to write about, 🎓 most interesting women’s rights research titles, 💡 simple women’s rights essay ideas, ❓ women’s rights research questions.

  • Women Role in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Prenuptial Agreements and Islamic Women’s Rights in the US and UK
  • Globalization’s Role in Improving Women’s Rights
  • Feminist Movement: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
  • Betty Friedan and Her Contribution to Fight for Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights: Judy Brady’s “I Want a Wife”
  • Abortion: Women’s Health as Their Integral Right
  • Seneca Falls Convention: The Origins of Women’s Rights Movement in the US It is important to note that U.S. civil society has come a long way to ensure that all people are equal in their rights, regardless of race or gender.
  • Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument The Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument was installed in Central Park in New York a year ago, being the first public artwork dedicated to women.
  • Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Movements During the 19th century, the abolitionist movement was developing in the United States, which set itself the goal of putting an end to slavery.
  • Women’s Rights and Their Historical Roots The fight for women’s rights is significant in history because it is a movement that has shaped the way societies view and treat women.
  • Pros and Cons of Abortion: The Importance of Women’s Rights For decades, abortion has been a hotly debated subject, eliciting strong and often firmly entrenched beliefs on all sides of the political spectrum.
  • Assigned Female at Birth and Women’s Rights Women, as well as a person assigned female at birth, suffer from body rights violations and poor access to healthcare, which increases their mortality level.
  • Women’s Reproductive Rights as a Political and Civil Rights Issue In June 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in an anonymous decision written by Justice Samuel Alito.
  • Women’s Rights Movement in the Last Century While the 19th Amendment granted most white women the right to vote, this was not the case for many women of color.
  • Islam and Women’s Rights in Iran After 1979 Women’s rights are a major concern of contemporary societies. Iran, through the 1979 Islamic revolution, underwent a significant political shift.
  • Women’s Rights in Latin America There has been a significant advancement in women’s rights in Latin America. However, the biggest challenge that numerous women in Latin America face is income disparity.
  • Women’s Rights, Abolition of Slavery, and Nationalism in the US This paper examines such important events in the US history as women’s rights convention, the abolition of slavery, and nationalism development.
  • American Women’s Rights Discussed in Lyrics This paper analyzes four pieces created by women in different genres (country, rap, poetry, jazz) that discuss women’s rights and role in society.
  • Perspectives on Muslim Women’s Rights and Feminism The purpose of the chapter written by Nash is to identify the problems associated with feminism in the context of the Middle East.
  • Women’s Rights in the Ottoman Empire The topic of women’s rights before the 20th century has been a very concerning one, requiring a significant amount of nuance and context.
  • Nationalist Ideology on Women’s Reproductive Rights in Ireland and Iran Irish literature entails oral and published literature of the inhabitants of Ireland, which is geographically part of the UK.
  • Women’s Rights in the United Arab Emirates This paper aims to explore women’s rights in the UAE while highlighting the difference between the country and other Arab nations, as well as how it has achieved equality.
  • Women’s Right to Abortion: Religious Perspective Some religious people are right to accept the US court decision on limiting women’s right to abortion. They believe that the act is murder because life starts at conception.
  • Ethics: Women’s Right to Abortion In the current paradigm of medicine and healthcare, abortion has become a relatively safe operation due to the increased quality of competencies and equipment.
  • Women’s Rights: Annotated Bibliography This paper discusses the articles “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” and “Women’s Needs in New Global Sustainable Development Policy Agendas.”
  • The History of Women’s Rights Movement The Women’s Rights movement began as the women’s fight for a vote and resulted in many other movements that affected America in the mid to late 1800s.
  • The Women Rights Movement and Modern Politics The women’s rights movement was the most important because it led to more women engaging in politics. Their participation is crucial for the nation’s development.
  • Women’s Rights from Islamic and Judaism Perspectives The Islamic and Judaism perspectives on women’s rights are often used as a tool to deny women equal rights and perpetuate gender discrimination.
  • Global Women’s Health and Rights The paper states that it is essential to ensure a woman’s general and medical rights. Women still have problems with the quality of healthcare.
  • Gender Equality: Do Women Have Equal Rights? Although developed countries demonstrate higher levels of gender equality than states that openly discriminate against women, the equality climate in the U.S. remains imperfect.
  • Women’s Bodies, Women’s Rights: A Case for Abortion If one holds that a woman has the moral right to make decisions about her health and existence, the only reasonable conclusion is to acknowledge the right to abortion.
  • Evolution, Not Revolution: Gender Law and Women Rights in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian government should enact policies that promote women to take professional courses such as engineering, medicine among others.
  • The Women’s Rights: The Movement for Equal Society This essay will reflect on how the current state of Women’s rights was shaped throughout the movement’s equal society history.
  • Women’s Rights: Suffrage Movement The research argues that understanding the connection between the anti-slavery movement and the women’s suffrage movement is instrumental in realizing the core of both movements.
  • Women’s Rights. Miss Representation Documentary I selected the film “Miss Representation” because the topics of women’s rights and gender equality are interesting to me.
  • Muller v. Oregon and Women’s Rights Advocacy The case Muller v. Oregon was discussed in the context of women’s rights protection in the early 20th century. This document is the most compelling evidence of legal procedures.
  • Women Have the Right to Decide the Abortion This work aims to describe abortion as a controversial phenomenon that always causes significant public resonance.
  • The Controversy About Abortion Prohibition and Women’s Rights The ability to access abortion and contraception is a basic human right for women, yet prohibitions are being put on these rights.
  • Women Have the Right to Decide Whether to Have an Abortion One of the controversial and ambiguous topics is the right to abortion as a phenomenon that has always caused significant public resonance.
  • Women’s Demands: Seneca Falls in 1848 and Civil Rights Movement No matter the amount of difference between the demands of women at Seneca Falls in 1848 with the demands of women in the 1960s-70s, at the fundamental demand they were the same.
  • Global Politics: Women’s Rights, Economy, Globalization Globalization is a critical phenomenon in global politics. It is the integration of the people of the world through economic, socio-cultural, and technological forces.
  • Rape Shield Laws and Women’s Rights in Canada This paper argues that for all its controversy, the rape shield has had a positive impact on women’s rights in Canada.
  • Sociology of Power and Women’s Rights History At some point in humanity’s early history, women were equal to men, if not superior. The paper evaluates the social evolution of women in relation to the sociology of power.
  • Female Genital Mutilation: Moral Decay and Women’s Rights Nowadays the practice of Female Genital Mutilation still exists in Asia, Middle East, Africa and in some local communities all over the world.
  • Women’s Rights in Chopin’s, Updike’s, Auburn’s Works Not many of us think about the way life was hundred, or fifty, or even ten years ago. Even less of us ponder on the topic of the change in society, for example, human rights.
  • Gender Equality and Women’s Rights The issue of gender equality in society has gained popularity in the course of the precedent century with the rise of the feminist movement and women’s struggle for equal rights.
  • Canadian Abortion Laws and Women’s Rights Section 251.9 of Canada’s Criminal Code prohibited abortions and was not constitutional since it violated women’s right as spelt out in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedom.
  • The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights The argument about the legitimacy of abortion has been in existence for quite a while. The proponents of prohibiting abortions are nowadays labeled as the pro-life movement.
  • Women’s Rights Movement in the Anti-Discrimination Activities The women’s movement is not just about the gender issue. It is a significant part of the common activity aimed at the protection of any discriminated group.
  • Muslim Women’s Rights: Misunderstood
  • Emily Murphy: Canadian Women’s Rights Activist
  • Women’s Rights and the Early American Republic
  • Anne Bradstreet and Phyllis Wheatley: Pioneers for Women’s Rights
  • The Early Women’s Rights Movement and the Men’s Mockery of It
  • Women’s Rights and the Social Status Within Saudi Arabia and Iran
  • The Fight for Women’s Rights in American History
  • Women’s Rights and Empowerment
  • Black Suffrage and Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Brain Drain and Gaps in Women’s Rights in the US
  • First Women’s Rights Convention Held in 1848
  • Latvia: Education and Women’s Rights
  • Muslim Women’s Rights Today
  • Women’s Rights Organizations and Human Trafficking
  • 1848 Women’s Rights Convention
  • Women’s Rights: How Small Strides Were Made During the Renaissance
  • Chairman Mao and Women’s Rights in China
  • Slavery, Women’s Rights and Inequality in America
  • Women’s Rights During the Victorian Era
  • The 1960s and 1970s’ Women’s Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights, Working Hours, and the 1908 Case of Muller v.s Oregon
  • The Women’s Rights and Government Responsibility in the United States of America
  • Early Civilization Women’s Rights
  • Pride and Prejudice and Women’s Rights in the Nineteenth Century
  • Lucy Stone and the Awsa’s Affect on American Women’s Rights
  • How Far Women’s Rights Have Come?
  • Women’s Rights vs. Men Rights During the Iranian Revolution
  • Aristotle and Islam: Two Views of Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights and the Impact of Technology
  • The Enlightenment Period and the Value of Women’s Rights
  • Alice Paul’s Fearless Fight for Women’s Rights
  • Gender Equality and Women S Rights in Yemen
  • The Economics and Politics of Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights During the Cold War
  • Gender Wage Gap and Women’s Rights
  • The Taliban’s War Against Women: Women’s Rights Inhumanly Denied
  • Women’s Rights Are Limited and Suppressed in Indian Society
  • Women’s Rights and Latin America
  • Can the Law Secure Women’s Rights To Land in Africa?
  • Globalization, Labor Standards, and Women’s Rights: Dilemmas of Collective Action in an Interdependent World
  • Post-1900 International Women’s Rights
  • Feminism and the Women’s Rights Movement in America
  • Reconstruction Through Black Suffrage and Women’s Rights
  • The Fight for Women’s Rights During the Cold War
  • Women’s Rights Speeches Throughout Time
  • The Fight for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia
  • Women’s Rights and the Great Awakening
  • Women’s Rights During French Revolution
  • How and Why Did Women’s Rights to Property and Marriage Change in China Between 960 and 1400?
  • Chinese Women’s Rights and the Impact of Christianity
  • The Necessity for Women’s Rights Worldwide
  • Oppression Isn’t Sexy: Women’s Rights in the 21st Century
  • Women’s Rights and Abolitionism
  • Radical Feminism: Radical Feminists Think They’re Advocating for Women’s Rights
  • Pregnant Women’s Rights and Fetuses’ Rights
  • Abortion and Women’s Rights in the United States
  • Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia and Respect Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights and the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment
  • Post-Taliban Women’s Rights and Government Implementation
  • Can the Law Secure Women’s Rights to Land in Africa?
  • Why Did the Women’s Rights Movement Emerge in the USA During the 1950s and 1960s?
  • What Type of Issue Is Women’s Rights?
  • What Are Current Women’s Rights Issues in America?
  • What Are Some Issues That Are Considered Women’s Rights Issues?
  • Is Women’s Rights a Global Issue?
  • Why Women’s Rights Lost Ground at the End of World War Two?
  • Is There Any Problems With Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia?
  • What Are Women’s Rights in the Taliban?
  • What Are Women’s Rights Like in Saudi Arabia?
  • Why Did the Taliban Ban Women’s Rights?
  • What Women Can and Can’t Do in Saudi Arabia?
  • What Has Afghanistan Done for Women’s Rights?
  • Does Saudi Arabia Support Women’s Rights?
  • When Did the Women’s Rights Movement Start in India?
  • What Does the UN Do for Women’s Rights?
  • Who Is the Head of Women’s Rights in the UN?
  • How Did the Wars Affect Women’s Rights?
  • What Did the Women’s Rights Fight For?
  • What Did Women’s Rights Accomplish?
  • What Were Three Major Events in the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • Who Fought for Women’s Rights?
  • What Is the Most Important Event in Women’s Rights History?
  • When Did the Women’s Rights Movement First Become an Issue?
  • How Betty Friedan and the Women’s Rights Movement Helped Women Across the World?
  • How Far the Women’s Rights Movement Come?
  • How Margaret Fuller and Fanny Fern Used Writing as a Weapon for Women’s Rights?
  • What Was the Women’s Rights Movement Called?
  • Why Do We Celebrate Women’s Rights Day?

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StudyCorgi. (2022, March 1). 140 Women’s Rights Essay Topics. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/womens-rights-essay-topics/

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StudyCorgi . "140 Women’s Rights Essay Topics." March 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/womens-rights-essay-topics/.

StudyCorgi . 2022. "140 Women’s Rights Essay Topics." March 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/womens-rights-essay-topics/.

These essay examples and topics on Women’s Rights were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on June 25, 2024 .

Women’s Rights Topics That Won’t Leave You Indifferent

The following women’s rights topics are presented here to help students find the best theme for their paper. You will love these ideas – they touch all aspects of women’s rights. Simply read through the following lists, and choose the topic that you like the most!

Controversial topics on women’s rights

  • Women’s rights in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Should laws be changed in Saudi Arabia to advance women’s rights regarding the freedom to drive, their dress code, and their interaction with men?
  • The Iranian Revolution (1978-1979) on women’s rights.
  • Women’s rights during 1865.
  • The role of women in 18th and 19th century .
  • Should women’s rights be implemented because of the gender wage gap, violence against women, and the absences of rights for women?
  • Victorian era: women’s rights then and now.
  • Men who fought against women’s rights.
  • The role of women at the beginning of the 20th century .
  • Women’s rights throughout history.
  • Muslim women’s rights in the Islamic world.
  • How has the passing of women’s rights changed Canada?
  • Why does adherence to the principle of gender equality enshrined in the constitutions of the EU member states remain a problem?
  • The relation of women’s rights to the upbringing of children and the maintenance of the household.
  • Why is there still a wage gap between men and women?
  • Why is the share of women in the leadership of European companies and institutions lower than that of men, and why is it insignificant on a global scale? Only 3% of the 500 largest companies are headed by women.
  • Why does physical violence against women, including in the family, remain a global problem?
  • The presence of established stereotypes, as well as traditional cultural and religious customs and ideas that belittle the role of women.
  • How do women and girls face discrimination and violation of rights in almost every area of life?
  • The relation of women’s rights to domestic violence and harassment in the workplace.
  • The relation of women’s rights to sexism, gender stereotypes, and objectification in advertising.
  • The relation of women’s rights to female circumcision and early marriage.
  • Why is it difficult for all countries to maintain women’s rights?
  • Why do many people not understand the importance of improving women’s rights?

Women’s rights speech topics

  • Aboriginal women’s rights in Canada.
  • Men’s and women’s rights during the French Revolution .
  • Women’s rights speech by Hilary Clinton.
  • Women’s rights in Iran.
  • Violation of women’s rights.
  • Women’s rights in Egypt.
  • Did the Islamic Revolution affect women’s rights in Iran?
  • Women’s rights in Kuwait.
  • Women’s rights versus men’s rights in the declaration of the French Revolution.
  • Century of women’s rights struggles.
  • International Women’s Day as a day of women’s solidarity in the fight for equal rights and emancipation.
  • What can activists do to improve women’s rights?
  • Why should we fight for women’s rights?
  • What countries achieved gender equality?
  • Why do numerous obstacles related to women’s rights remain unchanged in such spheres as law and culture?
  • Why is violence against women and girls one of the most widespread and difficult to eradicate violations of human rights in the modern world?
  • The relation of women’s rights to a partner’s violence (beating, killing women, psychological abuse).
  • The relation of women’s rights to sexual abuse and harassment (rape, cyberbullying, street harassment).
  • The relation of women’s rights to human trafficking.
  • The relation of women’s rights to female genital mutilation.

Argumentative essay topics on women’s rights

  • Women’s rights in the modern Middle East.
  • In the context of the years 1903-1980, to what extent were the suffragettes responsible for the most significant gains in women’s rights in England?
  • You have to watch the movie “Suffragette” and then write an essay answering the following question: “How are working class people marginalized, excluded, or silenced within the film?”
  • Were the suffragettes right to use violence?
  • Coco Chanel’s role in women’s rights movement .
  • Confronting the discrimination faced by women and girls in all its forms.
  • How to raise awareness and step up activities in support of equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
  • Why does abidance for women’s rights remain a problem that is perceived and addressed differently in different countries?
  • In Germany, gender equality is enshrined in the Basic Law. But why does the problem nevertheless remain?
  • Why are women’s rights still being violated in many countries of the world , and why is the problem of gender equality being ignored?
  • How does the degree of infringement of the rights and freedoms of women vary from country to country?
  • Why are women and girls still underestimated, why do they work more, earn less, and have less choice, and why are they subjected to violence in public places and at home?
  • Why is there a serious threat of a rollback of the hard-won victories of feminists?
  • Why, in almost all societies and fields of activity, are women discriminated against both from a legal and practical point of view?
  • The relation of women’s rights and the presence of discrimination in the family, in society, and in the workplace.
  • The causes and consequences of discrimination against women.
  • Influence of women’s rights on child marriages.
  • How does International Women’s Day give us the opportunity to think about the successes achieved, to call for huge changes, and to remember acts of courage of ordinary women who made a big contribution to the history of their countries?
  • What unprecedented successes has the world achieved in term of women’s rights?
  • Why are one in three women still subjected to gender-based violence?
  • What changes in women’s rights should be implemented to achieve full equality?

We hope that these women’s rights topics were helpful to you. If you have chosen the topic but don’t know how to write women’s rights essay , we advise you to place an order on EssayShark.com, online essay writing service. Get the academic help you need by using our service.

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  • Women's History on the Web
  • eArchives of Women's Writings
  • Special Topics on Women
  • Biographical Resources
  • Essential Writings of Feminism
  • General Women's Studies Portals
  • Groups and Associations
  • Special Library Collections
  • Selected Print and E-Book Sources

Internet Sources of Core Writings and Rhetoric on Women's Rights

Here are some links to online archives of classic feminist writings not covered elsewhere in this LibGuide.  See below box for selected print collections of feminist writings.

  • Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement "The materials in this on-line archival collection document various aspects of the Women's Liberation Movement in the United States, and focus specifically on the radical origins of this movement during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Items range from radical theoretical writings to humorous plays to the minutes of an actual grassroots group. The items in this on-line collection are scanned and transcribed from original documents held in Duke's Special Collections Library. We are making these documents available on-line in order to support current teaching and research interests related to this period in U.S. history."
  • Classic Feminist Writings This nice page, from the The Chicago Women's Liberation Union (CWLU) Herstory Website, provides a basic, browsable annotated list of a few primary documents. However, although the word "classic" appears in the title, all of these materials are from the 1960s and 1970s, so they are useful only in the study of the second wave. Note, too, that the group maintains files related to the "Jane" abortion activists. Click the Historical Archive link in the top frame to explore other web document options.
  • Marxists Internet Archive Library of Feminist Writers Starting with Mary Wollstonecraft and Harriet Taylor, this webpage provides "Selected writings of feminists of each of the “three waves” of feminist political activity. Intellectual Property laws prevent the Marxists Internet Archive from reproducing the works of most of the major feminist writers of recent decades. However, key chapters and articles have been reproduced for educational purposes only."
  • Fragen Project (Frames on Gender) Archive "For the first time, core feminist texts from the second wave of feminism in Europe have been made available to researchers in an easily accessible online database. The FRAGEN project brings together books, articles and pamphlets that were influential in the development of feminist ideas in 29 countries during the second half of the 20th century."
  • Andrea Dworkin Web Site The late Andrea Dworkin was one of the most articulate, passionate and controversial voices from the second wave of American feminism. This webpage excerpts sections from a variety of her writings. Click on the large button for "Andrea Dworkin Online Library" to read selections from Intercourse, Right-Wing Women, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, Our Blood:Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, Woman Hating, and Life and Death. The site also includes many memorial statements by other feminist leaders posted after her Spring 2005 death.
  • Jo Freeman.com: Articles by Jo Freeman o Freeman is another feminist activist and scholar whose work has spanned the earliest days of the "women's movement" til today. This good-looking, well-organized website presents many of Ms. Freeman's writings, including several written under the pseudonym Joreen. (These classic pieces include "The BITCH Manifesto" and "The Tyranny of Structurelessness.")
  • No Turning Back: Feminist Resource Site Designed to support this book , which we have in both print and eBook, this webpage suggests other websites, recommends appropriate films, and even links to the full-text of few classic "Primary Source Documents from Feminist History."

Print and eBook Collections of Feminist Writings and Primary Documents

women's rights college essays

Here are just a few examples of the types of anthologies Sawyer Library owns that gather and reprint interesting journalism, essays and primary documents about women's lives and feminist activism.

women's rights college essays

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women's rights college essays

Background Essay: Rights, Equality, and Citizenship

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Directions:

Keep these discussion questions in mind as you read the background essay, making marginal notes as desired. Respond to the reflection and analysis questions at the end of the essay.

Discussion Questions

  • Is suffrage a right or a privilege?
  • Is suffrage necessary for a person to be considered a citizen?
  • Is legal equality necessary for liberty?
  • Can a person be free if not equal under the law?

Introduction

What is equality? What is the connection between equality and citizenship? The principle of equality means that all individuals have the same status regarding their claim to natural rights and treatment before the law. Our definition of citizenship has expanded throughout American history, most often through claims to our natural equality. The story of women’s suffrage is an example of the patience, determination, and sacrifice necessary to carry out long term change within a constitutional order. The word, suffrage, meaning “the right to vote,” originated with the Latin suffragium, meaning “a vote cast in an assembly, or influence given in support of a candidate.”

The Declaration of Independence asserts as a self-evident truth that all people were created equal. Something “self-evident” is a plain truth that does not need to be proven through reasoned deduction from other principles. It is apparent immediately (or self-evident) to any reasonable observer that there are no natural differences among people which give one person or group of people (such as kings and queens) the power to rule over others without their consent. All have equal rights and dignity.

In his Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690), as part of an argument against slavery, English philosopher John Locke theorized that all people are born free: “The natural liberty of man [human beings] is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man [humans], but to have only the law of nature for his rule.”

Almost a century later, Samuel Adams quoted Locke regarding the natural liberty of man, agreeing that all people are created equally free; there are no natural rulers.

Equality and Natural Rights

Further, the Declaration asserts that it was “self-evident” that human beings were “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights. In the Founders’ view, since rights come from God, the creator of our human nature, an individual’s natural rights could be neither given nor taken away. They are, to use the Declaration’s word, unalienable

The term “natural” here refers to human nature. Natural rights are those rights humans have at birth, including life, liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and others. No person or government can “give” an individual these rights; they are part of what it means to be human. One can know natural rights are natural because they can all be exercised without requiring anything from others. Natural rights are sometimes called negative rights for this reason. They are also called inherent rights because they inhere in humanity: they are an essential characteristic of human nature.

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Painting depicting Thomas Jefferson and his fellow committee members presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress. Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, 1819. United States Capitol.

“Nobody Can Give More Power Than He Has Himself”

The assertion of inherent rights remains the foundation for the principle of equality. In the same argument against slavery, Locke reasoned:

“This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it…for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. Nobody can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it.”

In other words, Locke maintained, individual lives and the rights that flow from human nature belong to the Creator

Again, Adams echoes Locke in The Rights of the Colonists (1772):

“It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defense of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate [make void] such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”

Because humans are born with inherent rights, these rights are the same under any political system. An unjust government— including a tyrannical majority—may abuse or abridge the people’s inherent rights, but can never remove them, since these rights are essential to human nature.

But not all rights are inherent. Political rights, for example, may vary through times and places, because, unlike natural rights, they are given by government. Many political rights, including voting and serving on juries, have been expanded to more groups of people throughout American history through claims to natural and inherent equality. Although people use the term “rights” to refer to them, these rights conferred by civil society could more accurately be considered privileges—abilities that can be justly given or denied by government under certain conditions. For example, a driver’s license will be granted if a person passes a driving test, but can be revoked for drunk driving or too many accidents. A person can lose the ability to serve on a jury and to vote if convicted of a felony. People have inherent rights by nature, but must have permission in order to exercise a privilege.

women's rights college essays

Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley, about 1772; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The U.S. Constitution

The Declaration asserted two more principles that were self-evident: that in order to secure our rights, “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and that when a government repeatedly abuses the peoples’ rights, the people have the power and the duty to “alter or abolish” it and create a new government that will better protect their rights and ensure their safety and happiness.

After a time under the Articles of Confederation, many observers recognized the need for a more powerful central government, giving rise to a convention of the states in 1787. The resulting new Constitution’s opening lines “We the people…ordain and establish this Constitution” outlined a government of limited powers, recognizing the sovereignty of the individual and protecting the natural right of the people to govern themselves.

With this right to self-government come many responsibilities. In fact, it could be argued that citizenship is more about responsibilities than about rights. Individuals are free to make choices about their government and direct their own lives within a system that guarantees the equal right (and responsibility) of others to do the same. The Constitution reflects the sovereignty of the individual, by limiting the national government to certain enumerated powers, leaving everything else to the states and to the people.

Theory vs. Practice

Despite the bold proclamation, the principle of equality was not meaningfully reflected in the lives of all people during the early republic. Enslaved persons and Native Americans were unable to exercise their inherent rights and were not afforded political rights. The Constitution sanctioned slavery both explicitly and implicitly: it gave Congress the power to ban the international slave trade, but mandated a 20-year waiting period before doing so. The Constitution also allowed slave states to count three-fifths of their enslaved population toward the calculation of those states’ representation in Congress. Though this compromise prevented slave states from having even greater power (they had wanted to count their entire slave populations), the policy tolerated the practice of owning and trading in human beings. Though many of the leading Founders were convinced of the evils and injustices of slavery, they did not end it in their lifetimes.

Women also lacked legal equality. Enslaved women and Native American women were denied all of their rights. Among white women, and depending on varying state laws, widows had some political rights and could own property, but married white women had no legal status at all under the traditional doctrine of coverture. The English jurist William Blackstone explained this doctrine in 1765. Through marriage, husband and wife become one person under the law: “the  very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs everything.”

The Constitution left voting requirements to the states, and so states could adopt different policies. Some states did away with property requirements but still required voters to be taxpayers. Some states required a tax to vote, or a poll tax. Vermont became the first state to grant universal male suffrage in 1777. New Jersey allowed property-owning white women and free African Americans to vote for a short time before that right was revoked in 1807.

Extending Equality

The Founding generation did not perfectly live out its ideal of equality. However, it provided a foundation for greater expansion of liberty through time. Through sustained effort and commitment over time, Americans have persistently appealed to Founding documents and their root principles to insist on changes that gradually recognized and protected both natural and civil rights.

The women’s suffrage movement provides a model for implementing social and legal change to better align institutions with principles of liberty, justice, and equality. The pathway for change was long. Seventy-two years passed between the Declaration of Independence assertion of self-evident and equal natural rights and the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, where women planned to “discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” In most parts of America in 1848 it was considered improper—even illegal—for women to speak in public meetings. Now they were convening one. It took another seventytwo years of struggle for women to achieve a constitutional amendment—the Nineteenth in 1920—protecting their right to vote, and guaranteeing their opportunity to participate more fully in the political process.

The Constitution contains the means to institute the meaningful changes required to bring it more in line with the governing principles on which it was founded. One of these methods is the amendment process, which is slow but effective. Reformers committed to equality and justice endured hardship and sacrifice to implement the amendment process to end slavery, and to grant the vote to black men, women, and people ages 18-21. Other methods of aligning the law with these principles, particularly equality, result from the system of checks and balances. The Supreme Court in 1954 checked the power of majorities in states when it ruled segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Congress has also invoked its enumerated powers to protect legal equality with laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Appeals to equality continue today as Americans debate the meaning of the principle as it applies to undocumented immigrants, the unborn, LGBTQ community members, disabled people, and many others.

REFLECTION AND ANALYSIS QUESTIONS

  • On what basis did John Locke and Samuel Adams claim that slavery was unjust?
  • List four truths the Declaration of Independence asserts are self-evident.
  • What is a natural right?
  • Should voting be considered a right or a privilege? Explain your choice.
  • Do you agree with Locke that there are limits to what we can consent to? Does consent make any action good? Explain why or why not
  • Some say that natural rights do not exist because so many governments have abused them throughout history. (Indeed, the Founders argued that the British King and Parliament were abusing theirs.) They say that if a right cannot be exercised effectively, it does not exist. Evaluate this assertion.
  • The Founding generation did not fully live out its ideal of equality. Which ideals do people fail to live up to in modern times?
  • Principles: equality, republican/representative government, popular sovereignty, federalism,inalienable rights
  • Virtues: perseverance, contribution, moderation, resourcefulness, courage, respect, justice

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  24. LibGuides: Women's Studies: Essential Writings of Feminism

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  25. Background Essay: Rights, Equality, and Citizenship

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