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March Is Women's History Month

Document Date: March 3, 2003

Ruth Bader Ginsburg pictured in 1977, when she was Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project

About the Project

The History of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Women’s Rights Project Annual Reports: 2001 and 2002

ACLU Publications

Right to Choose Position Paper

Rights of Women Handbook

Defending Pornography, by Nadine Strossen

During Women’s History Month, the ACLU celebrates our many and distinguished accomplishments advancing women’s rights and our ongoing efforts to achieve equality and justice for all women.

The Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU, founded in 1971 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a Supreme Court Justice, has remained a leader in the legal battles to ensure women’s full equality in American society. The grand aim in the 1970s, Justice Ginsburg has said, was to place women’s rights permanently on the human rights’ agenda. That aim continues today.

The WRP, responsible for implementing ACLU policy in the area of gender discrimination, is dedicated to the advancement of the rights of women, with a particular emphasis on issues affecting low-income women, women of color and immigrant women.

The WRP brings direct litigation, files amicus curiae briefs, provides support for ACLU affiliate litigation, serves as a resource for ACLU legislative work and seeks to advance ACLU policy goals through public education, organizing and participation in coalitions.

The WRP’s work today involves five core areas: employment, poverty and welfare, violence against women, criminal justice and education. The WRP also is involved in challenging discrimination related to pregnancy, public accommodations and athletics.

In 2002, the WRP launched an exciting new project focusing on low-wage Latina workers’ rights, which includes community education, advocacy and litigation to address employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and wage and hour violations of women working in sweatshops, restaurants and as domestic workers.

The WRP also joined in a case initially brought by the Dept. of Justice against the New York City Board of Education claiming gender and race discrimination in the recruiting and hiring of school custodians. Under Attorney General John Ashcroft, the DOJ now is refusing to defend the settlement agreement it entered into to resolve the case, and the WRP therefore has stepped in to represent the female and minority custodians.

In addition, the WRP continues to be active in welfare matters, including a case that was argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court in January 2003 challenging a child-exclusion provision that denies funding to any child born into a family already receiving welfare.

Finally, the WRP expanded our efforts on behalf of victims of domestic violence by initiating a campaign that involves outreach, community education and litigation to address discrimination against battered women living in subsidized housing.

Women’s History Month is a commemoration of the courageous women of the past who blazed the trails — and of the women and girls of today and the future who travel on them and create new ones. In our efforts to make equality a reality for all women, the Women’s Rights Project is indebted to our determined clients, our colleagues in the ACLU, our partners in other women’s rights organizations and our generous supporters for helping us to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

We invite you to join us in this fight.