Human Rights Careers

5 Women’s Rights Essays You Can Read For Free

Women and girls are the most disenfranchised group in the world. Even in places where huge strides have been made, gaps in equality remain. Women’s rights are important within the realm of human rights. Here are five essays exploring the scope of women’s rights, which you can download or read for free online:

“A Vindication on the Rights of Woman” – Mary Wollstonecraft

Mother of Mary Shelley, who wrote the novel Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft is a juggernaut of history in her own right, though for a different reason. Self-educated, Wollstonecraft dedicated her life to women’s education and feminism. Her 1792 essay A Vindication on the Rights of Woman represents one of the earliest writings on women’s equality. In the Western world, many consider its arguments the foundation of the modern women’s rights movement. In the essay, Wollstonecraft writes that men are not  more reasonable or rational than women, and that women must be educated with the same care, so they can contribute to society. If women were left out of the intellectual arena, the progress of society would stop. While most of us believe the idea that women are inherently inferior to men is very outdated, it’s still an accepted viewpoint in many places and in many minds. Wollstonecraft’s Vindication is still relevant.

“The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” – Audre Lorde

Poet and activist Audre Lorde defied the boundaries of traditional feminism and cried out against its racist tendencies. While today debates about intersectional feminism (feminism that takes into account race, sexuality, etc) are common, Audre Lorde wrote her essay on women’s rights and racism back in 1984. In “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” Lorde explains how ignoring differences between women – whether its race, class, or sexuality – halts any real change. By pretending the suffering of women is “all the same,” and not defined by differences, white women actually contribute to oppression. Lorde’s essay drew anger from the white feminist community. It’s a debate that feels very current and familiar.

“How to convince sceptics of the value of feminism” – Laura Bates

Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism Project website back in 2012. It documents examples of everyday sexism of every degree and has become very influential. In her essay from 2018, Bates takes reader comments into consideration over the essay’s three parts. This unique format allows the essay to encompass multiple views, just not Bates’, and takes into consideration a variety of experiences people have with skeptics of feminism. Why even debate skeptics? Doesn’t that fuel the trolls? In some cases, yes, but skeptics of feminism aren’t trolls, they are numerous, and make up every part of society, including leadership. Learning how to talk to people who don’t agree with you is incredibly important.

“Why Can’t A Smart Woman Love Fashion?” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the most influential voices in women’s rights writing. Her book, We Should All Be Feminists , is a great exploration of 21st-century feminism. In this essay from Elle, Adichie takes a seemingly “small” topic about fashion and makes a big statement about independence and a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants. There is still a lot of debate about what a feminist should look like, if wearing makeup contributes to oppression, and so on. “Why Can’t A Smart Woman Love Fashion?” is a moving, personal look at these sorts of questions.

“The male cultural elite is staggeringly blind to #MeToo. Now it’s paying for it.” – Moira Donegan

There are countless essays on the Me Too Movement, and most of them are great reads. In this one from The Guardian, Moira Donegan highlights two specific men and the publications that chose to give them a platform after accusations of sexual misconduct. It reveals just how pervasive the problem is in every arena, including among the cultural, intellectual elite, and what detractors of Me Too are saying.

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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 civil rights essay


Women and the civil rights movement.

Three women at polling place. Library of Congress.

Library of Congress,

Women played a crucial role in galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement. While resulting legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act was a win for African Americans of both genders, they were particularly symbolic for women. Black women, often marginalized from women’s suffrage organizations in the late 1800s and early 1900s, founded their own groups to advocate for the rights of African American women and men. Early leaders such as Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell spoke out for their rights as people of color and as women.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, women were key strategists. Septima Clark , for example, designed educational programs to teach African American community members how to read and write. She thought this was important in order to vote and gain other rights. Her idea for “citizen education” became the cornerstone of the Civil Right Movement.

Learn more about the legislation of the Civil Rights Movement and how it impacted women. Or discover more stories of women shaping the political landscape.

Civil Rights Legislation

The Equal Pay Act, signed in to law in 1963, was one of the first federal laws that addressed wage differences based on gender.

This act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, requiring equal access to public places and more.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 expanded the 14th and 15th amendments by banning racial discrimination in voting practices.

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Last updated: September 24, 2019

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Women’s rights are human rights.

We are all entitled to human rights. These include the right to live free from violence and discrimination; to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn an equal wage.

But across the globe many women and girls still face discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Gender inequality underpins many problems which disproportionately affect women and girls, such as domestic and sexual violence, lower pay, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare.

For many years women’s rights movements have fought hard to address this inequality, campaigning to change laws or taking to the streets to demand their rights are respected. And new movements have flourished in the digital age, such as the #MeToo campaign which highlights the prevalence of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

Through research, advocacy and campaigning, Amnesty International pressures the people in power to respect women’s rights. 

On this page we look at the history of women’s rights, what women’s rights actually are, and what Amnesty is doing.


three activists are at the forefront of an image of a large protest in Karachi. They appear to be celebrating with their arms waving joyously.

What do we mean when we talk about women’s rights? What are we fighting for? Here are just some examples of the rights which activists throughout the centuries and today have been fighting for:

Women’s Suffrage

During the 19th and early 20 th  centuries people began to agitate for the  right of women to vote . In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote on a national level. This movement grew to spread all around the world, and thanks to the efforts of everyone involved in this struggle, today women’s suffrage is a right under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979).

However, despite these developments there are still many places around the world where it is very difficult for women to exercise this right.  Take  Syria  for example, where women have been effectively cut off from political engagement, including the ongoing peace process.

In Pakistan, although voting is a constitutional right, in some areas women have been effectively  prohibited from voting  due to powerful figures in their communities using patriarchal local customs to bar them from going to the polls.

And in Afghanistan, authorities recently decided to introduce  mandatory photo screening  at polling stations, making voting problematic for women in conservative areas, where most women cover their faces in public.

Amnesty International campaigns for all women to be able to effectively participate in the political process.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Everyone should be able to make decisions about their own body.

Every woman and girl has sexual and reproductive rights . This means they are entitled to equal access to health services like contraception and safe abortions, to choose if, when, and who they marry, and to decide if they want to have children and if so how many, when and with who.

Women should be able to live without fear of gender-based violence, including rape and other sexual violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, or forced sterilization.

But there’s a long way to go until all women can enjoy these rights.

For example, many women and girls around the world are still unable to access safe and legal abortions. In several countries, people who want or need to end pregnancies are often forced to make an impossible choice: put their lives at risk or go to jail.

In  Argentina , Amnesty International has campaigned alongside grassroots human rights defenders to change the country’s strict abortion laws. There have been some major steps forward, but women and girls are still being harmed by laws which mean they cannot make choices about their own bodies.

We have also campaigned successfully in  Ireland and Northern Ireland , where abortion was recently decriminalized after many decades of lobbying by Amnesty and other rights groups.

In  Poland  along with more than 200 human and women’s rights organisations from across the globe, Amnesty has co-signed a joint statement protesting the ‘Stop Abortion’ bill.

South Korea  has recently seen major advances in sexual and reproductive rights after many years of campaigning by Amnesty and other groups, culminating in a ruling by South Korea’s Constitutional Court that orders the government to decriminalize abortion in the country and reform the country’s highly restrictive abortion laws by the end of 2020.

In Burkina Faso, Amnesty International has supported women and girls in their fight against  forced marriage , which affects a huge number of girls especially in rural areas.

And in Sierra Leone, Amnesty International has been working with local communities as part of our Human Rights Education Programme, which focuses on a number of human rights issues, including  female genital mutilation .

In Zimbabwe, we found that women and girls were left vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and a higher risk of HIV infection because of widespread confusion around sexual consent and access to sexual health services. This meant that girls would face discrimination, the risk of child marriage, economic hardship and barriers to education.

In  Jordan  Amnesty International has urged authorities to stop colluding with an abusive male “guardianship” system which controls women’s lives and limits their personal freedoms, including detaining women accused of leaving home without permission or having sex outside marriage and subjecting them to humiliating “virginity tests”.

Freedom of Movement

Freedom of movement is the right to move around freely as we please – not just within the country we live in, but also to visit others. But many women face real challenges when it comes to this. They may not be allowed to have their own passports, or they might have to seek permission from a male guardian in order to travel.

For example, recently in Saudi Arabia there has been a successful campaign to allow women to drive, which had previously been banned for many decades. But despite this landmark gain, the authorities continue to  persecute and detain  many women’s rights activists, simply for peacefully advocating for their rights.


When looking at women’s rights it’s helpful to have an understanding of feminism. At its core,  feminism  is the belief that women are entitled to political, economic, and social equality. Feminism is committed to ensuring women can fully enjoy their rights on an equal footing with men.

Intersectional Feminism

Intersectional feminism  is the idea that all of the reasons someone might be discriminated against, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic class, and disability, among others, overlap and intersect with each other. One way of understanding this would be to look at how this might apply in a real world setting, such as  Dominica , where our research has shown that women sex workers, who are often people of colour, or transgender, or both, suffer torture and persecution by the police.


Gender inequality.

Gender inequality could include:

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence  is when violent acts are committed against women and LGBTI people on the basis of their orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics. Gender based violence happens to women and girls in disproportionate numbers.

Women and girls in conflict are especially at risk from violence, and throughout history sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war. For example, we have documented how many women who fled attacks from Boko Haram in Nigeria have been  subjected  to sexual violence and rape by the Nigerian military .

Globally, on average  30% of all women  who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence committed against them by their partner. Women are more likely to be victims of sexual assault including rape, and are more likely to be the victims of so-called  “honour crimes”.

Violence against women is a major human rights violation. It is the responsibility of a state to protect women from gender-based violence –  even domestic abuse behind closed doors.

Sexual Violence and Harassment

Sexual harassment means any unwelcome sexual behaviour. This could be physical conduct and advances, demanding or requesting sexual favours or using inappropriate sexual language.

Sexual violence is when someone is physically sexually assaulted. Although men and boys can also be victims of sexual violence, it is women and girls who are  overwhelmingly affected.

Workplace Discrimination

Often, women are the subject of gender based discrimination in the workplace. One way of illustrating this is to look at the  gender pay gap . Equal pay for the same work is a human right, but time and again women are denied access to a fair and equal wage. Recent figures show that women currently earn roughly 77% of what men earn for the same work. This leads to a lifetime of financial disparity for women, prevents them from fully exercising independence, and means an increased risk of poverty in later life.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity  

In many countries around the world, women are denied their rights on the basis of  sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics . Lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex women and gender non-confirming people face violence, exclusion, harassment, and discrimination Many are also subjected to extreme  violence , including sexual violence or so called “corrective rape” and “honour killings.” 


The  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979)  is a key international treaty addressing gender-based discrimination and providing specific protections for women’s rights.

The  convention  sets out an international bill of rights for women and girls, and defines what obligations states have make sure women can enjoy those rights.

Over 180 states have ratified the convention.


Women’s rights are human rights.

It might seem like an obvious point, but we cannot have a free and equal society until everyone is free and equal. Until women enjoy the same rights as men, this inequality is everyone’s problem.

Protecting women’s rights makes the world a better place

According to the UN, “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security”. Research has shown this to be the case – society gets better for everyone when women’s rights are upheld and taken seriously.

We’re stronger when we work together

Although grassroots movements have done so much to effect change, when everyone comes together to support women’s rights we can be so much stronger. By working alongside individual activists and campaigners on the ground as well as running our own targeted campaigns, movements such as Amnesty International can form a formidable vanguard in the fight for women’s rights.

two women are in the focus of a photo taken at a protest. The one on the left has a purple Venus symbol painted on her cheek and has one of her hands in the air in a fist.


Global: briefings to help cop president advance business interests heighten concerns about summit’s outcome, australia: more than 100 people charged after kayaking protesters block coal port ahead of cop28, human rights defenders and health workers who face widespread abuse and criminalization for defending the right to abortion must be better protected, guillermo zárraga’s life at a standstill in venezuela, fossil fuels: bad for the climate, bad full stop.  .

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  • Civil Rights Movement , Discrimination , Employment , Equal pay for equal work , Gender Equality , Gender Inequality , Unemployment , United States

How it works

Sex or gender discrimination may be considered an inequality because the act involves mistreating a person based mainly on the gender of that individual. In the history of the United States, during the late 1800s, women raised a claim concerning inequality emphasizing how they were being treated compared to men. This contributed to the introduction of current civil rights regulations stopping many forms of gender discrimination. The issue of discrimination has been a noted problem for women and gender in the United States since the year 1870.

The fight for equality continued even after the Civil War. Wyoming passed a law that provided women with an opportunity to serve on juries and to vote. Quite a number of other western states and territories followed in providing women with voting rights. Advocates for women’s rights were disappointed by the Fifteenth Amendment, which was confirmed in the year 1870, because while it stopped the states from discriminating based on race it did not prevent discrimination based on gender. In the year 1878, Congress made a constitutional change providing women with voting rights. Although there was a failure in the amendment, it was reconsidered after forty years. The struggle for women’s suffrage was led, in part, by Susan B. Anthony. Susan B Anthony was a social activist who fought in several causes and withstood several misfortunes in her efforts to end discrimination. In her fight for women’s suffrage she was imprisoned for casting a vote during a presidential election, something she knew to be illegal but felt so passionately about. Anthony was a very popular figure of her time, but many other unspoken heroes served by her side winning small victories along the journey to suffrage. Luck Stone is one of the first woman from the United States to maintain a maiden name after being married. In the year 1920, it was finally acknowledged that women had been provided with constitutional voting rights with the creation of the Nineteenth Amendment. This change pointed out that voting rights of the American citizens shall not be abridged or denied by any state of the United States on the grounds of gender.

Women in college have been in the past denied access to opportunities in education provided by military. Which in years past were male-oriented because men dominated higher learning institutions. These women were denied admission to these institutions on the notion that the physical education would be too challenging for them and that their admission would affect the morale of the men in college. The inclusion of women would somehow diminish the programs and that their involvement would necessarily lead to the reduction of expectations followed by a plunge in the university’s reputation. However, the Supreme Court of the United States failed to agree with those reasons, when it pointed out that it would be unconstitutional to admit males in the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) but not females. The Supreme Court identified that such a policy was against the clause for equal rights in the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore was overruled.

There was also a notable level of discrimination on women in the business world. Most African Americans who were involved in business were predominantly men. However, women were largely involved in the beauty sector of the market during this time. Women were generally not allowed to participate in commercial activities. Undoubtedly, as it is noted earlier, before the passing of a law by the Congress, women were not even allowed to own anything after marriage. So how would they be successful in business or anything finance related without any assets.

The generational differences started to be evident between the women of the 1920s and the women who came before them. Before the 19th Amendment, feminists mainly considered that women could not be in a position to successfully pursue both a family and a career. Arguing that one would inadvertently limit the progress and development of the other. This thought started to change in the 1920s as more women started to have a desire to pursue careers and raise families. The women of this era were less concerned with the social duties that previous generations had held in such high esteem. During this period, women were determined to accomplish goals and to get personal satisfaction. The 1920s reported a remarkable level of change in the lifestyles of the women who were working. World War I had temporarily provided an opportunity for the women to get into industries; for instance, automobile, chemical, and steel and iron manufacturing, which were once considered to be an inappropriate duty for women. Women who had been turned away from the factory jobs in the past started to obtain positions in the factories while the men were away at war. They did so by agreeing to be paid lower wages and taking the place of the lost labor of the immigrants who were the backbone of production during that time. However, their success was only considered to be temporary. Quite a number of black women were removed out of their factory duties after the war. In 1920, 75% of the African American female labor was made up of agricultural workers, laundry laborers, and domestic workers. The favorable economy that was evident around the year 1920 implies that there would be a surplus of job opportunities, even to the lowers ranks. Quite a number of young ladies from many different backgrounds did not need to aid their families. Undoubtedly earlier generations did and were mainly motivated to find work or get technical training, which would contribute to the social movement.

Young ladies started to claim their personal bodies as their own and got involved in sexual freedom in their generations. While a lot of these sexual explorations were already common in this time people were now embracing these ideas instead of forcing them behind closed doors. For example, all of the new sexual curiosities were found in the streets of New York before World War I. Scholars argued that sex was not only the experience of human being but that women were considered to be sexual individuals with human desires and impulse compared to those of the men. And limiting these impulses would be self-destructing. Around the 1920s, these thoughts had moved to the mainstream for debate. The 1920s contributed to the introduction of co-ed, as the women started being admitted to large state universities and colleges it became increasingly harder to seperate the men from the women. More families got into the middle-class and were able to provide the experience of the mainstream middle class lifestyle to their daughters. Women mainly joined classes where there would be hard working men, such as home economics. College, for some, was a place to find a suitable husband. Motivated by the concepts of sexual liberty, dating was very popular in higher learning institutions. Aside from sexual realizations, the en years span from the year 1920 of undisturbed capitalism contributed to the mystique of feminism. Most women focused on marrying, “good ones” remained at home looking after their children, cleaning, and cooking and the best ones did all these things and went an extra mile and worked to improve the standard of their homes and families.

Women were acknowledged in the New Deal that occurred between the year 1933 and 1943. However, there was no struggle to solve their unique necessities. In the relief procedures, they were liable to get a job only if they were considered to be the main provider of support in their families. However, there were no jobs that were provided by the relief agencies. During World War II, the mobilization of wartime notably altered the sexual boundaries of work for the women. Undoubtedly, the young energetic men were taken overseas and there was an increase in the production of wartime manufacturing. Women were pushed into different paid jobs and different vocational duties. Most of these women were married.

The movement for human rights lost its momentum after the signing of the Nineteenth Amendment. It was not until the year 1960 that the movement regained its stride. There was a notable rise in demand for equal opportunities and rights as more women began fighting against the traditional roles and responsibilities of being a housewife. They began joining the workforce, as a result, Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act of the year 1963, which stops employers from having any form of discrimination on employees on the basis of gender in relation to compensation terms. In the year 1964, Congress passed Title VII for the Civil Rights Act, which is against any form of discrimination in employment on the grounds of gender among other basis. The Equal Pay Act and Title VII granted both women and men protection against any form of gender discrimination.


  • Dayton, Cornelia H., and Lisa Levenstein. “The Big Tent of US Women’s and Gender History: A State of the Field.” Journal of American History 99, no. 3 (2012): 793-817.
  • Folbre, Nancy, and Marjorie Abel. “Women’s work and women’s households: Gender bias in the US census.” Social Research (1989): 545-569.
  • Latourette, Audrey Wolfson. “Sex discrimination in the legal profession: historical and contemporary perspectives.” Val. UL Rev. 39 (2004): 859.
  • Noltemeyer, Amity L., Julie Mujic, and Caven S. McLoughlin. “The history of inequity in education.” Disproportionality in education and special education: A guide to creating more equitable learning environments (2012): 3-22.

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135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics

🏆 best topics related to women’s rights, ⭐ simple & easy essay topics on women’s issues, 📌 most interesting research topics on women’s issues, 👍 good women’s rights research paper topics, ❓ research questions about women’s rights.

  • 💯 Free Women’s Rights Essay Topic Generator

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!

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"135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics." IvyPanda , 8 Nov. 2023,

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IvyPanda . 2023. "135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics." November 8, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics." November 8, 2023.


IvyPanda . "135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics." November 8, 2023.

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Women in the Civil Rights Movement


  • Women sacrificed their lives and fought determinedly, asking for a social revolution. Unfortunately their efforts have been overlooked. Apart from Rosa Parks, very few women civil rights activists remain unknown or unrecognized by society.
  • Women participation in the Civil rights movement was silent and this was largely attributed to choice, whereby they wanted to remain in the background, or due to the sexism that was prevalent at the time.
  • Visible women activist also comprised of the wives of prominent male civil rights leaders. They included Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Betty Shabazz (Widow of Malcom X) and Myrlie Evers-Williams (Widow of Medgar Evers) 1
  • Women advocacy was ongoing even before the Rosa Parks incident. Through the Women Political Council, women were encouraged to boycott the bus public transport due to inherent segregation.
  • Distinguishing the role of women in the Civil rights movement does not in any reduce the significance of male civil rights activists.
  • Women participation should be intertwined within the history of Civil rights as it led to the participation of women in Daily lives and broke the gender barrier that had shrouded them for so long 2 .

By tradition, social movement theory is employed to social movements without examinations into the manner gender has an effect into the development of movements. The circumstances that precipitate personal movement participation are subject to ones positions within the social order. A good illustration of this can be seen through the civil rights movement where for black Americans, inequality acted as a source of encouragement for their participation in the movement. Besides race inequalities, life as a woman in a white and male society controlled society provided enough impetus for participation in the civil rights movement.

Due to the sixties gender customs during the active times, charismatic advocate leaders comprised largely of black men. At the time, the black community especially those from the South were not ready for women activism 3 . It was a farfetched idea for anyone to think that women would emerge as leaders within the movement. Men had better opportunities to be charismatic activists as their manhood accorded the societal power.

This attracted them more attention. Even though both men and women could enjoy amazing personalities assumed to be crucial for captivating the masses, women were unable to lead or demand commitment because their positions would not be recognized. At the time, it was hard for them to attain formal leadership. Nonetheless, they were given unofficial leadership positions e.g. event organizers Due to their social skills, women were viewed as better at networking and this culminated in becoming active rights advocates in their own right. This gained them the trust and admiration of the community in which they served. We cannot discount the efforts and contribution of women in the Civil rights movement based only on the charismatic movement theory.

The participation by both men and women within the Movement diverged from and strengthened the gender standards of the sixties U.S. civilization. Most Civil Rights bodies were led by men. Nevertheless, some involved and supported the active participation of women and encouraged them to take up leadership roles 4 . Some women matched the custom norms by carrying out domestic chores. This included clerical duties. Most ladies within the movement played a voluntary role. i.e there were some who prepared meals and washed up venues after organized events were over. Most of them were genuinely concerned with making a difference.

They were not after any publicity. As others challenged such duties by risking their safety by organizing activities in unsafe racist neighborhoods. While at the same time, some male advocates were not open to considerable contribution of women in the struggle. Others encouraged women to remain active 5 .

Though it’s accurate to say that the most prominent individual linked to the Montgomery boycott was a lady, Rosa Parks is frequently portrayed as an exhausted seamstress who refused to relinquish her bus seat. She was actually a dedicated long serving activist for racial justice. She was very active as her involvement from assisting the Scottsboro Boys to assisting in her home branch of the (NACP) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She also attended the Highlander Folk School where she was educated on labor rights and racial equality 6 .

The recognition of the role played by women does not in any way reduce the importance of their male counterparts.

Osborne Linda. Women of the civil rights movement. Georgia: Pomegranate, 2006. Web.

Crawford, Vicki. Women in the Civil Rights movement: trailblazers and torchbearers, 1941-1965. Newark:Greenwood,2009. Web.

1 Linda, Osborne. Women of the civil rights movement. (Georgia: Pomegranate, 2006). pp. 45. Web.

2 Vicki, Crawford. Women in the Civil Rights movement: trailblazers and torchbearers , 1941-1965. (Newark:Greenwood,2009).pp 67. Web.

3 Linda, Osborne. Women of the civil rights movement. (Georgia: Pomegranate, 2006). pp. 34. Web.

4 Linda, Osborne. Women of the civil rights movement. (Georgia: Pomegranate, 2006). pp. 39. Web.

5 Vicki, Crawford. Women in the Civil Rights movement: trailblazers and torchbearers , 1941-1965. (Newark:Greenwood,2009).pp 68. Web.

6 Linda, Osborne. Women of the civil rights movement. (Georgia: Pomegranate, 2006). pp. 54. Web.

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 Civil Rights Yoshie Takeda

What Have Been the Major Improvements in Women’s Civil Rights?

What Are Some of the Current Issues Regarding Women’s Civil Rights?

    A long time ago, many women fought for women’s civil rights, and their actions changed society. Everyone considered and improved women’s civil rights; however, there are still some problems in society now. Women and men should be treated equal in any situation, for example, in work places, home, and public places. I think that the main reason for the problems is the physical difference between men and women. I will talk about the women’s civil rights of the past and present.

    In the 19th century, women’s civil rights were not equal to men. Women were treated poorly, and they could not say anything to society and even to their husbands. They just followed the men; however, Harriot Blatch got up and appealed for women’s civil rights to society. Then many women followed her, and they picketed the White House for two years. Finally, their movement succeeded, and they got the right to vote. It was a very important movement and give incentive to women. To vote means to take part in society and politics. Women are citizens, too, so it is natural to vote; in addition, they fought for the equality of women with men. Equality is the problem of the new society, too. After women got the right to vote, they thought that the women’s civil rights movement finished. The reality was not true, and their status was still low so they acted to get jobs and equal rights. I think that women’s civil rights were very cruel then, but now it has improved so we can live comfortable by grace of them.

    In society, there are still issues with men’s rights and women’s rights. Men can get jobs of high position very easily, and women have to work and study harder than men. Women are still discriminated against by society and men. For example, if a woman wants to be the president of a school, she has to work and study hard; also, she has to get an agreement with her husband and family. Her salary will less than men, that is the reality. That is why women cannot earn the same salary that man can get.

    The next situation is about being a housewife. Most women who have a job and a family are very busy because most men think that housework is the women’s job, and women have to do housework and take care of their children and work. This is very old thinking. If a wife does not have a job, she might do that; however, most couples work together. I think that they should help each other.

    The roles for men and for women are nothing; however, there are distinctions that are a reality. I think that to treat people equally is very difficult because men and women have physical and mental differences; however, if we say that the problems will never be solve forever, women will be treated unfairly all the time from now on. Therefore women and men have to compensate for each other. Then a wonderful and great society will emerge. The first thing that everyone has to do is to consider and change their minds step by step. A machine cannot solve the problems, only human can. I think that there were many women who fought for women’s civil rights a long time ago so I can live with peace and not be treated very cruelly.

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Women In The Civil Rights Movement Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: United States , Women , Leadership , Money , Democracy , Life , Civil Rights , Race

Published: 04/01/2020



The topic on civil rights movements is perhaps one of the most equivocal topics that have generated a contentious debate across various settings all over the globe. Worth noting is the fact that the Civil Rights Movement is a remarkable period in the history of the United States. It is during the period of the Civil Rights movement that American citizens of different “walks” of life came together to protest about a wider array of racial inequalities that were eminent across various settings in the United States. Many at times, men are often depicted to be the only ones who made significant contributions towards the success of civil rights movements. However, there is the need to appreciate the fact that women were also involved in various activities that made significant contributions towards the success of the civil rights movements.


As previously connoted herein, women are often overlooked despite the decisive roles they played during the civil rights movement period. In fact, women advocated for the cause of the civil rights movement whereby they worked tirelessly towards the realization of social revolution. In addition, some of the women risked their lives by participating in civil rights strikes, which predisposed them to a wider array of dangers. Even so, the recent past has experienced the emergence of a new clique of Historians who appreciate the roles played by women during the civil rights movement period. In a nutshell, African-American women and other women from racial minority group offered pivotal support for the civil rights movement. An example of a woman who lost her life while participating in the civil rights movement battles is Rose Park’s. This is a substantive example that indeed women played a crucial role in the civil rights movement by participating in causes that put them in compromising situations. The other role played by women during the civil rights movement period aligns with the support they gave to their men who were in the forefront advocating for racial equalities. These women motivated their men to press on advocating for their interests. In fact, there are cases whereby the wives of various prominent civil rights movement leaders were involved in the struggles for racial liberation. Examples of such women include the wives of Myrlie Williams, Shabazz Betty, and King Scott. The wives of these prominent leaders were highly involved in the civil rights movement. On a similar note, a close look of the portraits taken in the course of the civil rights movement period shows a number of women were involved in the movement. In fact, girls and women are all over the portraits taken throughout the civil rights movement. This is another substantive indicator that women played some essential roles during the civil rights movement period. The other role played by women during the civil rights movement also relates to the individual roles they played in encouraging each other to participate in the quests of the civil rights movement. As an example, some women personalities such as Piggy Vera, a beautician kept encouraging racial minority women on the need to register as voters. Certainly, voting was one of the goals set to be attained by the civil rights movement. In addition, racial minority women who served as domestic workers boycotted their work in protest for racial equality. On another note, women participated in the civil rights movement by urging the official in various cities to integrate various societal issues to be in line with the civil rights movement cause. There is the need to know that women played a role in the civil rights movements by offering financial support. To be precise, women participated in various activities that raised money to support the cause of the civil rights movement. As an example, women sold pies, cakes, and arranged car pools to raise money to support civil rights movement activities. Arguably, the main reason as to why women are never appreciated for participating in the civil rights movement because the women carried out background roles. These background roles included food preparation for the men activists. In addition, women played a role of training young activists. On a similar note, the women helped in developing strategies for the civil rights movement. Conclusions


Charon, Hribar. 2013. Radical Women in the Struggle: A Review of Recent Literature on the Civil Rights and Black Freedom Movements. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Indianan University), 29 (2): 95-115. Houck, Davis W., and David E. Dixon. 2009. Women and the civil rights movement, 1954- 1965. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Lottie, Joiner. 2013. The Pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement 1963-2013. Essence (Time Inc.), 44 (1): 118- 121.


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Guest Essay

American Elections Are About Abortion Now

A black-and-white photograph shows two people holding signs. One says “No Issue 1” and the other says “Yes on Issue 1.”

By Tom Bonier

Mr. Bonier is a Democratic political strategist and the senior adviser to TargetSmart, a data and polling firm.

With two election cycles after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization under our belts, it cannot be denied: Abortion rights are the dominant issue in American politics. And when supporters of abortion rights — a clear majority of Americans — see a connection between their votes and protecting what was once guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, they are more likely to vote.

With a second Trump term possibly hanging in the balance in next November’s election, these are lessons Democrats must seize.

Abortion rights won big on Tuesday night. In Ohio, a constitutional amendment enshrining protections for abortion rights was on the ballot, and in Virginia, control of both chambers of the state legislature was considered a tossup, and both parties made abortion rights the central issue of their campaigns. The pro-abortion-rights measure in Ohio passed by a wide margin . In Virginia, the Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, made his proposal for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy the central argument for electing Republicans in the state legislature. Republicans failed to win back control in the Senate and lost their narrow majority in the House of Delegates as turnout surged to historically high levels in key swing districts.

Before this week’s elections, most of the attention of the political class and the public was focused on national polls showing Donald Trump holding a lead over President Biden in the 2024 presidential contest. But it is now clearer than ever that the backlash against the Dobbs decision — and voters’ general distaste for strictly limiting abortion access — could play a crucial role in winning Mr. Biden a second term. Certainly, there will be many other major issues at play in this election, including war and voters’ perceptions of the economy. But abortion could plausibly be the deciding factor next November.

Mr. Trump’s narrow lead in recent polls is largely due to Mr. Biden’s underperforming with younger voters and voters of color relative to his support levels in 2020. While there is evidence that these polls overstate the risk to the president’s coalition, perhaps more important, these voters have proved over the course of the past year that they are highly mobilized by abortion rights and will provide strong support to candidates who share their position on the issue. By analyzing the individual-level turnout data from post-Dobbs elections, we know that women and younger voters are most likely to be inspired to vote when they see an opportunity to defend abortion rights and that this coalition is broad and diverse, including a large segment of voters of color.

To date, the post-Dobbs political battles have been fought almost exclusively at the state level. Republicans in Congress, with control of the House of Representatives, have shown little appetite for passing a federal ban, saying the issue is best left to the states to decide. The implausible path for such legislation through a Democratic majority in the Senate, not to mention a certain veto from Mr. Biden, has spared the Republican majority in the House from any substantial pressure to advance such legislation. That said, in the immediate aftermath of seeing his state overwhelmingly support abortion rights this week, the Republican senator J.D. Vance of Ohio is urging a national Republican position on abortion in the form of a 15-week ban.

The base of the Republican Party clearly expects its candidates to prioritize abortion bans. To ignore these calls is to risk a demoralized base on Election Day next year, making the path to victory that much narrower for a party that has won the national popular vote for the presidency only once in the past 35 years. Yet at the same time, the 2022 and 2023 elections have proved that standing firm in support of abortion bans energizes progressive voters and swings independents toward Democratic candidates. Given that Mr. Trump faces the challenge of expanding his coalition beyond that of his 2020 shortfall, such a development could doom his hopes of returning to the White House.

Mr. Biden and his team have no doubt grasped this dynamic and will presumably force Mr. Trump to pick one of the two daunting paths before him. Before the Virginia elections, national Republicans clearly hoped that Mr. Youngkin had found the consensus choice, with what they emphasized as limits on abortion, not bans. These hopes were dashed in polling places across Virginia on Tuesday, something that surely did not go unnoticed in the White House.

Abortion rights have had the biggest impact on elections over the past year and a half where voters believe abortion rights to be threatened and when they plausibly see their votes as a means to protect or reinstate abortion rights, it is good news for Democrats and for expanding or protecting abortion access. States with abortion on the ballot in the form of ballot measures have seen the biggest effect, but similar effects have been felt in states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, where the issue was at the forefront of campaign messaging.

While Republicans find themselves boxed into a corner on the issue of abortion, in many ways Mr. Biden is the ideal messenger to connect the dots for moderates on this issue. His personal journey on abortion rights has been well documented and mirrors that of many Americans. This year Mr. Biden said : “I’m a practicing Catholic. I’m not big on abortion. But guess what? Roe v. Wade got it right.” Polling shows a sizable portion of moderates and even conservatives more or less agree with him: They may not consider themselves activists on the issue of abortion rights, but at the same time, they are deeply uncomfortable with the Dobbs decision and how it stripped so many Americans of individual freedoms.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Mr. Biden in 2024: Republicans are on the defensive when it comes to abortion rights, and are losing ground every day. Mr. Trump, in calling bans on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,” has shown he is aware of the liability the issue represents for his presidential campaign. Yet he is left without a solution that will mollify his supporters while not alienating moderates or mobilizing progressives.

Democrats exceeded expectations and precedent in key races in 2022 and 2023 by putting abortion rights and Republican extremism front and center. In 2024 all voters must understand that their votes will decide the future of abortion rights, everywhere.

Tom Bonier is a Democratic political strategist and the senior adviser to TargetSmart, a data and polling firm.

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Clarence Thomas Just Made Another Mess for His Colleagues to Clean Up

Back in July, the Supreme Court shocked observers by turning down a chance to do what it loves doing most: dismantle the Voting Rights Act, piece by piece. In Allen v. Milligan , a challenge brought by Alabama voters to a post-census redistricting map, five justices held that the map likely violated Section 2 of the act, which bars states from passing laws that make it harder for people of color to vote. Chief Justice John Roberts, a man who has spent his entire career working to hollow out the act, wrote an opinion that recast himself as a diligent champion of democracy, framing his opinion upholding this section of the VRA as a “faithful application” of long-standing precedent.

Justice Clarence Thomas, however, as he is wont to do in cases that affirm the existence of civil rights, dissented. And Thomas, as he is wont to do in cases he loses, extended a conspicuous invitation to right-wing activists and/or lower court judges in a footnote: The opinion in Milligan , he noted, “does not address whether [Section 2] contains a private right of action.” In other words, whatever Section 2 does or does not permit lawmakers to do, Thomas suggested that the basic question of whether people can even get into courtrooms to enforce it remained something of an open question.

This past week, a federal appeals court took the hint. In an opinion written by Trump appointee David Stras and joined by George W. Bush appointee Raymond Gruender, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8 th Circuit reached the novel conclusion that only the federal government—specifically, the attorney general—can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Everyone else, from voting rights organizations to state law enforcers to regular people who are just tired of decennial attempts to gerrymander them out of electoral existence, is out of luck.

Stras’ opinion, if the Supreme Court allows it to stand, is as disastrous for the future of multiracial democracy as it is useful to the conservative legal movement’s policy agenda. Private parties have used Section 2 to bring just about every voting rights case in recent memory. That has been especially true since 2013, when the court in Shelby County v. Holder effectively invalidated Section 5 of the act, which had, until then, been its most robust enforcement mechanism, requiring Department of Justice preclearance to voting changes in certain jurisdictions. In his opinion, Roberts tried to downplay Shelby County ’s impact by emphasizing that it “in no way affects” Section 2, which became, by default, the last, best hope for protecting access to the ballot.

The 8 th Circuit panel’s decision would snap this already-way-too-thin reed in two. Even under Democratic presidential administrations, the Department of Justice simply doesn’t have the resources to play racism whack-a-mole with every single jurisdiction that tries to evade the Voting Rights Act’s prohibitions. Under Republican presidential administrations, meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act would become an aspirational nullity if private actors were not allowed to seek remedies in court.

It is hard to overstate how much Stras has to strain to reach his preferred conclusion. It is “unclear,” he says, whether the statute provides for a private right of action, which he, for some reason, counts as a strike against it. Moving on to legislative history, Stras acknowledges that both chambers of Congress explicitly declared that they intended Section 2 to permit private lawsuits but deems this evidence irrelevant to resolving the ambiguity he purports to identify. (Nothing says, “Respect for a co-equal branch of government” like finding reasons to ignore that co-equal branch when it says things you don’t like.)

As for literally decades’ worth of decisions, both from the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, that fly in the face of his argument? Stras hand-waves them away as “background assumptions” that he—apparently the first judge to correctly interpret the act in the nearly 60 years since its enactment—is under no obligation to accept. (Ditto the multiple legislative reenactments of the Voting Rights Act that have not yielded any reason to question the private right of action’s existence.) In a profession ostensibly obsessed with incrementalism and restraint, this is a wild power grab. It is roughly analogous to a disgruntled DMV employee refusing to process your driver’s license renewal paperwork, and also unilaterally decreeing that you were never allowed to operate a motor vehicle in the first place.

In a brief dissent, Chief Judge Lavenski Smith—a George W. Bush appointee, and the 8 th Circuit’s only active Black judge—sounds almost mystified by his colleagues’ casual audacity. “Admittedly, the [Supreme] Court has never directly addressed the existence of a private right of action” under Section 2, Smith writes. “However, it has repeatedly considered such cases, held that private rights of action exist under other sections of the VRA, and concluded in other VRA cases that a private right of action exists.” His opinion characterizes the majority’s gambit as “ambitious” and “a major upheaval in the law,” which is about as close as a federal judge gets to publicly opining that another federal judge is full of shit.

Even before Stras begins twisting himself into logical pretzels, though, his introductory prose sort of gives the game away. The case itself is a challenge to the map for the Arkansas House of Representatives, which includes just 11 majority-Black districts out of 100. (Arkansas is about 15.6 percent Black .) Stras presents this information using language laced with contempt for the very concept of voting rights: “Quarreling over district lines begins like clockwork every ten years,” he says; the plaintiffs who oppose the map, he sighs, “sued nearly everyone who had anything to do with it.” This is not serious legal analysis; it is the collected grumblings of a crank who finds it annoying that Black people keep crowding his docket with cases insisting that they have a right to vote.

From here, the case is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court, especially since a different federal appeals court reached the opposite conclusion earlier this month. The good news (to the extent that there is “good news” about a decision limiting Voting Rights Act enforcement in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota to the Department of Justice) is that I do not think Stras’ argument will find a receptive audience. Thomas might like it, and perhaps Justice Neil Gorsuch, who included a similar just-asking-questions line about Section 2 in a concurring opinion in Brnovich v. DNC two years ago. Given how many glowing headlines Roberts and company earned from Allen v. Milligan , though, I sort of doubt that the court allows two random appeals court judges to rewrite civil rights law in the graven image of Kris Kobach .

Even if this ends with Roberts once again gallantly riding to democracy’s rescue, cases like this one are the inevitable output of a judiciary controlled by conservatives at every level. Thomas and Gorsuch float these little trial balloons because they know what will happen next: Conservative lawyers will cook up harebrained arguments that conservative courts can use to make it easier for more Republicans to win more elections in more places. Lower court judges, who are perpetually competing with one another for a promotion during the next Republican administration, have an especially powerful incentive to answer the Federalist Society call of duty. Both Stras and Gruender were on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist ; this little stunt makes it likely that they make the next version, too.

The case is also part of a recent trend that will continue in the years to come, in which the Supreme Court will, more or less, have to go back and clean up its own mess. (This is already happening in Second Amendment law, where the court in United States v. Rahimi is expected to “clarify” its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen , which declared the government all but powerless to address the gun violence crisis.) It will be great if the justices generously allow voters to protect voting rights, just as it will be great if they affirm that, yes, the Constitution allows the state to disarm domestic abusers before they kill someone. The fact that the court has to spend its time answering these questions, though, is a damning indictment of a legal system that keeps asking them in the first place.

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Israeli women and girls were raped during Hamas attack. Where’s the outcry?

The organizations meant to stand for the prevention and eradication of such attacks have been eerily silent since the hamas attack on oct. 7. and this silence has been deafening..

A woman walks by posters with photos of hostages taken to the Gaza Strip during Hamas' attack on the Israeli south on Nov. 15 in Hadera, Israel.

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy took a deep breath after warning the audience about the graphic horrors she was about to relate. Then she described just some of the overwhelming visual evidence that has emerged of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel: a young concert-goer, stripped from the waist down, frozen by rigor mortis into a spread-eagle position, her body partially burned. A young woman, similarly exposed in death, torn underwear hanging off one naked leg. Rape victims paraded through the streets of Gaza, blood gushing from between their legs.

The list went on. And on. Compiled from various sources — Hamas footage, first responders, workers who handle corpses, survivor accounts — these testimonials formed the basis of a webinar this week entitled, “The Unspeakable Terror: Gender-Based Violence on Oct. 7.” Organized by Jewish students at Harvard Medical, Dental, Law, and Business schools, it accrued more than 4,500 registrants and, in the days after, more than 20,000 viewers.

Why such great interest in the horrors perpetrated by Hamas against women and girls on Oct. 7? We believe it reflects the relative lack of attention until now to the brutal sexual and gender-based violence that took place as part of Hamas’s assaults.


Despite the circulation of the evidence Dr. Elkayam-Levy shared, worldwide organizations dedicated to women’s and human rights have stayed largely silent.

“The evidence is undeniable, yet we find ourselves fighting a dual battle,” said Elkayam-Levy, chair of the Israeli Civil Commission on Oct. 7th Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children. “One against these atrocities and another against global silence. And we see the same mechanism of denial that we recognize from individual rape.”

Others share her concern, and a petition calling on UN Women to address the crimes against Israeli women is taking on momentum, with more than 180,000 signatures; the hashtag #MeToo_UNless_UR_a_Jew has been trending on X.

As a Harvard School of Dental Medicine student who helped organize the event, and a Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine and psychiatry who moderated that panel, we found hope in some of the experts’ reports: The act of rape, once widely accepted as part of the “spoils of war,” is now recognized as a prosecutable war crime, even a crime against humanity when it is perpetrated systematically.

But other statements were heartbreaking, including that most or all of Oct. 7 rape victims were either killed or abducted, and are thus not able to tell their stories to the world. Webinar participants said that the forensic evidence shows extreme sexual violence, including genital mutilation and assaults brutal enough to break pelvic bones. Some accounts describe abject sadism like cutting off a woman’s breast and tossing it as a plaything.

Perhaps the most poignant and vexing comment at the event came from a physician who posed an age-old question: How could they? There are rumors the attackers were intoxicated with drugs, the physician said, but “even with drugs, how can someone do such an act that is not human?”

The visual and forensic findings add to the urgent need to provide medical care to the hostages now held in Gaza, Dr. Devora Bauman of Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem said in the webinar.

Rape victims often have genital injuries, she said, and severe vaginal tearing, if not repaired, can lead to death. Care for pregnant and postpartum women is essential; there are reports that at least one hostage has given birth while in Hamas captivity and others face the very real possibility of impregnation by their rapists.

Just as these Israeli experts on the webinar are feeling abandoned by their colleagues in the global women’s rights communities, so are the families of the female hostages held in Gaza. “Where are you? Where is your voice? Why is it not heard?” said Kinneret Stern, a relative of a hostage, told Reuters.

UN Women has issued a report on girls and women in Gaza, but it does not mention the Israeli victims of Hamas’ attacks. The Global Fund for Women, despite making a blanket statement “condemn[ing] the violence of Israel and Hamas against civilians,” has focused its efforts on calling for a cease-fire and drawing attention to the plight of Palestinian women, without mentioning Israeli victims of Hamas. The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security issued a statement on the plight of Palestinian women without any mention of Israeli women, hostages, or sexual assault attacks.

The Israeli experts on the webinar reported on testimonies from captured terrorists and documents found on the deceased — that the attackers received special religious dispensation to abuse women “in order to instill fear in the Israeli population.” If sadism was an intentional strategy, that offers further explanation for what the terrorists did to women, children, and men.

The world outcry against rape and war crimes must be resounding and universal. The collective response must be unequivocal and consistent. As a collective, we must define and uphold our societal principles of justice and morality.

On the webinar, Orit Sulitzeanu, who leads Israel’s association of rape crisis centers, shared her sense that the world changed irrevocably on Oct. 7 — for everyone. “It’s not just terror, it’s sadism,” she said, inflicted on civilians in their homes. “I want the people listening to understand that this could happen everywhere. And if you don’t fight it, it can happen even to you.”

Dr. Elizabeth Gaufberg is an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a physician and educator at The Cambridge Health Alliance. Cami Tussie is a third-year student at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and president of the HMS/HSDM Maimonides Society, a Jewish student organization.

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