Women’s Rights: Resources

Ice Princess, cyanotype printed on silk, by Elaine Happnie


The continuing struggle for women’s rights has been both rewarding and frustrating—progress slowly achieved, but so often tempered by setbacks. The list of resources below is only a sample of material available online and at local bookstores and libraries focusing on the history and current commentary on women’s ongoing quest for equality. The list includes links to online articles and some prominent organizations that are engaged in that quest.


American Civil Liberties Union, Women’s Rights Project (ACLU WRP) 
Founded in 1972 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ACLU WRP employs “litigation, community outreach, advocacy and public education . . . to ensure that women and their families can enjoy the benefits of full equality and participation in every sphere of society.” 
Center for American Progress (CAP) Women’s Initiative: 
As described on its website, the CAP Women’s Initiative “develops robust, progressive policies and solutions to ensure all women can participate in the economy and live heathy, productive lives.”  It lists four areas of concentration: advancing a proactive abortion agenda, addressing the maternal health crisis, closing the gender wage gap, and building a stronger economy by prioritizing women.
Center for Reproductive Rights 
Founded in 1992, the Center is described on its website as “a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, ad well-being of every person.” In the United States, it “litigates in federal and state courts and advocates for laws and policies to ensure reproductive rights and health services are available across the country.” See more on its U.S. programs at 
Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL): 
Based at Rutgers University and founded in 1989 by feminist activist Charlotte Bunch, CWGL, according to its website, “has been instrumental in fostering women’s leadership in the area of human rights through leadership institutes, international mobilization campaigns . . . strategic planning activities, United National monitoring and advocacy, publications, and development of a resource center.”  It lists as program goals equality regardless of identity, Peace beyond the absence of war, and feminist standards as the norm. Its website includes written and video resources.
Equality Now: 
This global association states on its website that it uses “a unique combination of legal advocacy, regional partnership-building, and community mobilization to realize our vision of a more just and equal world for women and girls.” The organization describes its members as “unapologetic feminists who know that the only way to achieve substantial equality is through structural change and addressing the root causes of oppression.” Equality Now works with local, regional, national, and international partners to establish legal equality, end sexual violence, end sexual exploitation, and end harmful practices.
Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF): 
Established in 1987, FMF declares on its website that it is “dedicated to women’s equality, reproductive health, and nonviolence,” furthering these goals via research and such activities as “public policy development, public education programs, grassroots organizing projects, leadership training and development programs, and participating in and organizing forums on issues of women’s equality and empowerment.” FMF’s sister organization Feminist Majority (FM),, is a membership organization that pursues these same goals via lobbying and other direct political action. 
International Alliance of Women (IAW): 
Established in 1902 (under a different name; the organization’s current name was adopted in 1946), IAW is a nongovernmental membership organization comprising organizations and individual members and devoted to “the promotion of women’s human rights, of equality, and of the empowerment of women.”  
League of Women Voters (LWV):
This U.S. organization was established in 1920 as a “mighty political experiment” to help women—newly provided the vote by ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution—fulfill their civic responsibilities. It characterizes itself on its website as “a nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to protect and expand voting rights and ensure everyone is represented in our democracy.” LWV’s work includes “advocacy, education, and litigation at the local, state, and national levels.” It comprises more than 700 state and local chapters (see its directory of chapters at ). 
National Organization for Women (NOW)  
Founded in 1966, NOW is a U.S. group described on its website as “the grassroots arm of the women’s movement … dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women’s rights.” Its purpose is “to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.” NOW has chapters in all 50 states  
National Women’s Law Center (NWLC): 
Established in 1972 and based in Washington, D.C., the NWLC declares on its website that it “fights for gender justice—in the courts, in public policy, and in our society—working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls.” It uses “the law in all its forms to change culture and drive solutions to the gender inequity that shapes our society and to break down the barriers that harm all of us—especially women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families.”  The center is a source of respected and oft-cited data.
UN Women: 
A program of the United Nations, UN Women strives to deliver “programs, policies and standards that uphold women’s human rights and ensure that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential.” This organization “supports UN member states as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with government and civil society to design laws, policies, programs, and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide.”
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fights for their Rights, by Mikki Kendall, illustrated by A. D’Amico (2019). This pictorial review of women’s rights around the globe was cited by Kirkus Reviews as “a fabulous introduction—informative, forthright, and highly appealing.” 
Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny by Kate Manne (2018). As a reviewer for the University of Chicago Press Journals notes, this book “is not really about the logic of misogyny in any formal sense but about how misogyny manifests today in societies such as the United States and how the various manifestations fit together.” 
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (first published in 1963; later editions available). “If you want to understand the passion that helped fire up the modern women’s movement,” writes Lynn Neary of NPR, “there may be no better place to start” than this classic and influential volume.  
For the Many: American Feminists and the Global Fight for Democratic Equality by Dorothy Sue Cobble (2021). Described by its publisher, Princeton University Press, as “a history of the twentieth-century feminists who fought for the rights of women, workers, and the poor, both in the United States and abroad.”
Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality, 1920-2020, by Elisabeth Griffith, (2022). This no-holds-barred review of 100 years of struggle was called by a reviewer for the New York Times “a profoundly illuminating tour de force . . . organized around major fights: voting rights, working conditions, education access, health care, racial violence, reproductive rights, race and gender discrimination, the wage gap, [and] electoral office.” 
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (2014). A collection of sharp-edged essays that, in the words of Kirkus Reviews, “illuminate and challenge the status quo of women’s roles in the world.”
The Trouble with White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism, by Kyla Schuller (2021). Deemed by Publishers Weekly to be “a passionate and persuasive survey of fault lines within the feminist movement.”  
Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin (2018). In a starred review, the Library Journal called this illustrated volume a “smart, sassy field guide for feminists” that will also appeal to graphic novel fans.
We the Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment by Julie Suk (2020). The New York State Writers Institute says that this volume “charts the legal, historical, and political significance of the ERA’s current resurgence, enabled by generations of women constitution-makers.” 
Woman: The American History of an Idea by Lillian Faderman (2022). This “comprehensive history of the struggle to define womanhood in America” (Yale University Press) won a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which described it as a “highly readable, inclusive, and deeply researched book [that] will appeal to . . . anyone seeking to understand the historical patterns that misogyny has etched across every era of American culture.” 
“Abortion.” A compilation of articles by various authors in the Chicago Sun Times at   
“Abortion is on the California Ballot. But does that mean at any point in pregnancy?” by April Dembosky at National Public Radio, in partnership with Kaiser Health News, at  
“By the numbers, corporate progress on gender diversity is a failure,” by Eric Rosenbaum, April 29, 2022. CNBC website at 
“Election Stories,” Introduction by Jean Zorn, with prose and poetry contributions by Becky Boling, Meredith Escudier, Paula Rudnick, Anne-Marie Sutton, Leslie Neustadt, Susan Emshwiller, Joyce R. Ritchie, Judith Emilie, and Diane Freedman. Persimmon Tree, June 3, 2020, at   
“Facts and figures: Women’s leadership and political participation.” Article on the UN Women website at . Undated, but including data through September 2022. The article includes the observation that “At the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years.” (Emphasis added)   
“Feminism in These Times,” by Vivian Gornick. Persimmon Tree, March 9, 2015, at 
“Fifty years of Title IX: the US law that attempted to make sports equal,” by Beau Dure, June 23, 2022, in The Guardian at 
“The Gender Pay Gap across the US in 2022,” by Trevor Wheelwright,, March 1, 2022, at   
“How Unpredictable Schedules Widen the Gender Pay Gap” by Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel. Harvard Business Review, July 1, 2022, at   
“International Women’s Day: dramatic deterioration in respect for women’s rights and gender equality must be decisively reversed.” Amnesty International article, March 7, 2022, at  
“Laughing Through Their Tears: What Kind of Woman Contemplates Abortion,” by Elizabeth Zimmer. Play review in The Village Voice, October 25, 2022, at  
“Most Americans support gender equity in sports scholarships, poll finds,” by Liz Clarke, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin, June 22, 2022, Washington Post at 
“Nearly 2.4 Billion Women Globally Don’t Have Same Economic Rights as Men.” Press release, March 1, 2022, at 
“North Wing: A Cautionary Tale with Poems by Dead White Men,” by Elizabeth Zimmer (Persimmon Tree, June 2013) The harrowing personal experiences of the author during and after her abortion in 1966, before the passage of Roe v. Wade. 
“Overturning of Roe v. Wade abortion law a ‘huge blow’ to women’s human rights’ warns Bachelet.” Article on the United National News website at 
“A Proclamation on Women’s Equality Day, 2022,” by Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States.  
“Running for office is still for men—some data on the ‘Ambition Gap,” by Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox, February 8, 2022, Brookings Institution website at    
“10 Christian Women Shaping the Church in 2022,” by Olivia Bardo, March 8, 2022. Article on the Sojourners website at  
“Troublemakers in Action,” short prose and poetry on resistance and political action, with contributions from Cynthia Ward, Sylvia Ramos Cruz, Sophia Kouidou-Giles, Pat Carr, Ronna Magy, Patricia Pomerleau, and Catherine Aks. Persimmon Tree, June 10, 2017, at   
“When did religious belief become an excuse to discriminate?” by Louise Telling, September 7, 2022.  Opinion section, Washington Post at 
“Women in Bronze (and Copper),” introduction by Sue Leonard, Editor. Persimmon Tree, September 6, 2020, at 
“Women in the health and care sector earn 24 percent less than men.” World Health Organization, July 13, 2022, at   
“Women’s Rights.” A compilation of articles by various authors published in the New York Times.” 
“Women’s Rights.” A compilation of articles by various authors published in The New Yorker at



Elaine Happnie’s collections have been displayed in Boston, New York, Florida, and Madrid. Her work is in corporate and public collections, including the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Public Library, the McCormack School of Government, UMass Boston, and the New York City offices of the National Tourism Office of Spain.

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