Women’s Rights in America

Gender equality is a basic human right. Women are half the world’s population, and they deserve to realize their full potential. Empowered women contribute to healthier, more productive households and economies, which in turn spur global development. Yet women still face barriers that prevent them from fully achieving their rights, including a lack of access to education, employment opportunities, and legal protection.

The year 2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, a milestone in the long journey to ensuring women’s rights. This landmark piece of international law has 122 states parties and is one of the most important instruments to advance gender equality around the world.

While significant progress has been made in the fight for women’s rights, more work needs to be done. According to the United Nations, the gender gap persists in economic participation, access to health services and education, political representation, and violence against women.

The first step in addressing these challenges is to understand the roots of inequality. Many of the most fundamental barriers to women’s rights stem from the ways we think about and value women.

This issue is especially critical in the developing world, where social and cultural norms are often outdated, and women and girls face a unique set of obstacles to their full human rights. For example, in countries where Islam is the dominant religion, women are unable to vote because of patriarchal local customs that require men to physically present their wives or daughters to vote.

Despite these challenges, the vast majority of Americans across demographic and partisan lines support women’s rights. Nine-in-ten Americans say it is very or somewhat important that women have equal rights with men, and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to feel this way.

When asked to describe what it would be like in a society where women have equal rights with men, more than half of those who responded cited equality in the workplace: 47% said equal pay; 19% said no discrimination in hiring and promotion; and 5% mentioned better paid leave.

Other common responses included equality in the home and in family life, such as being treated fairly by their spouses; and more broadly, an emphasis on valuing women’s contributions and accomplishments. These are the enduring goals of the women’s movement, and a key reason why so many Americans are supportive of it. It’s time to put our commitment to women’s rights into action. This is a matter of urgency for the whole world, and it’s an opportunity to make a difference for future generations. We need your help! Please join us in the fight for equality for all.