Women's rights

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Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst campaigning for women's suffrage

Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide. These rights formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the nineteenth century and feminist and women's liberation movements during the 20th century. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behavior, whereas in others they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favor of men and boys.


  • The State, agent and slave of the Church, has so long united with it in suppression of woman’s intelligence, has so long preached of power to man alone, that it has created an inherited tendency, an inborn line of thought toward repression.
    • Matilda Joslyn Gage : ‘Church, Woman and State’, New York, 1893. reprinted by Voice of India, New Delhi, 1997 p. 543
  • When Chase, Summer, Stevens, and Wilson talk to the negro of the importance of having the franchise, and stop short of giving the franchise to woman, I proclaim them hypocrites—I proclaim them politicians. They speak so to the newly freed slave, because he has already the ballot in his hands, and they want him to vote for them. We have not that right, and hence they do not speak one word in favor of our attaining the elective franchise.
  • I am uncompromising in the matter of woman's rights. In my opinion she should labour under no legal disability not suffered by man, I should treat the daughters and sons on a footing of perfect equality.
    • Mohandas Gandhi, 17th October 1929. Quoted in Gandhi: The Essential Writings. Judith M. Brown, Oxford University Press, 1998 (pp. 228-9). Also quoted in Kumari Jayawardena, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries, Institute of Social Studies, 1982.

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