Gender bias continues to create barriers to equal rights for women. The right to make decisions about one’s own body and reproductive health, to earn the same salary as a colleague doing comparable work, and to live free of sexual harassment are all key components of equal justice and fair treatment. Listen to ADL’s podcast about how these issues impact women’s equality.
Recognizing that women’s rights are civil rights and civil rights are women’s rights, ADL has taken a three-pronged approach to advocating for gender equality. The League has written amicus (friend of the court) briefs, engaged in legislative advocacy, and created educational resources.
In the Courts
The ability to make decisions about one’s own reproductive health and family planning has played an essential role in advancing women’s equality. In 1973, in the watershed Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court held that women have a constitutional right to decide whether to terminate their own pregnancies. Since Roe, however, there have been countless court challenges to the right to choose. ADL has filed an amicus brief in every major case about abortion rights that has come before the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade.
Read some of the briefs:
- Whole Woman's Health v. Cole (U.S. Supreme Court, 2015)
- McCullen v. Coakley (U.S. Supreme Court, 2014)
- Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (U.S. Supreme Court, 2006)
- Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood (U.S. Supreme Court, 2005)
- Stenberg v. Carhart (U.S. Supreme Court, 2000)
- Planned Parenthood v. Casey (U.S. Supreme Court, 1996)
Part of the Affordable Care Act commonly known as the “contraceptive mandate” requires that employers provide insurance that covers preventative care, free of charge, to women, including coverage for contraception. Owners of some for-profit, secular corporations challenged the contraceptive mandate, arguing that it violated their religious rights. Believing that women have a right to make decisions about their own health in consultation with their doctors, not their employers, ADL filed briefs around the country—and before the Supreme Court—in support of the contraceptive mandate.
Read the briefs:
- Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (U.S. Supreme Court, 2014)
- O’Brien v. HHS (8th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Newland v. Sebelius (10th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Korte v. HHS and Grote v. Sebelius (7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Autocam Corporation v. Sebelius (6th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius (10th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Legatus v. Sebelius (6th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Liberty University v. Lew (4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Annex Medical v. Sebelius (8th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Sebelius (3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
- Gilardi v. HHS (D.C. Court of Appeal, 2013)
- Eden Foods v. Sebelius (6th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2013)
Among other topics, ADL has also filed briefs opposing sex-based discrimination in education and sexual harassment in the workplace. To learn more about ADL’s latest work in the courts, read In the Courts: ADL’s Current Legal Docket.
Although we have made great strides towards women’s rights and equality in the United States, much remains to be done both in Congress and in state legislatures around the country. ADL has advocated for equal pay for equal work and the crucial extension of the Violence Against Women Act. The League has submitted testimony around the country opposing efforts to limit access to abortion and has advocated for—and ultimately applauded—the end of gender biased policies in government and in private organizations, including the military’s acceptance of women in combat and Augusta National Golf Club’s admission of women.
Recognizing that education is the most powerful engine for social change, ADL has created resources about gender bias and inequality for educators, families, and children.
Curriculum Resource for Teachers
- Toys and Gender (Grades PreK-3, PDF)
- When I Grow Up I want to Be….Moving Beyond Gender Barriers in Our Lives (Grades K-8)
- Mo'Ne Davis and Gender Stereotypes (Grades 2-5, PDF)
- Who Is Malala Yousafzai? (Grades 4-7, PDF)
- Stereotypes of Girls and Women in the Media (Grades 6-12, PDF)
- Student Dress Codes: What's Fair? (Grades 6-12, PDF)
- Shirley Chisholm: Unbought, Unbossed and Unforgotten (Grades 9-12, PDF)
- Is Gaming a Boy's Club? Women, Video Games and Sexism (Grades 11-12, PDF)
- Book of the Month: Sonia Sotomayor, A Judge Grows in the Bronx (March 2015)
- Book of the Month: Grace for President (March 2014)
- Books About Gender and Sexism
- Books About Women's Rights Activists
- The Question Corner: How Can I Prevent Gender Bias in Young Children? (Early Childhood Initiative)
- The Question Corner: What Are Some Examples of Children’s Books that Break Gender Stereotypes? (Early Childhood Initiative)
- The Unspoken Messages of Dress Codes: Uncovering Bias and Power (Rosalind's Classroom Conversations)
- Toward Communication Free of Gender Bias
Selected Blog Posts Related to Women’s Rights
- From the Archives: Violence Against Women Act 20 Years Later
- Good D.C. Circuit Ruling On ACA Contraception Mandate Opt-Out Ruling
- HHS Issues Overly Broad Draft Rule Following Hobby Lobby
- Hobby Lobby Elicits Varied Editorial Responses
- Order in Wheaton College Case Raises More Concerns About Hobby Lobby
- Congress Must Follow President Obama’s Lead to Close the Wage Gap
- The Hobby Lobby Case—It’s Not OK to Discriminate In the Name of Religion