Teaching Women’s Rights
From Past to Present

Women’s Rights:
Ancient Egypt and the United States


1) Read this definition:

Rights: A right is a privilege which a person is owed. It is guaranteed by law.

Examples: right to vote; right to a free education.

2) Hold a class discussion about the meaning of a right. What are some rights we have in the United States? Do students have any rights? Do children have any rights? Can rights be taken away? Do you think rights have to sometimes be fought for? Do the rights people have differ according to the society in which they live? Can you give an example of this?

3) Compared to women in other ancient civilizations, Egyptian women had many rights. Below is the link to a form called Women's Rights - Ancient Egypt and the United States. This form lists some of the rights women had in ancient Egypt. Use this form to compare their rights to women's rights today by asking the opinion of your mother or of any adult woman. Read her the rights of women in ancient Egypt listed on the form and ask if she also has these rights. Write her answer, "yes," "no," or "don't know" in the space provided.

4) Then ask her: what other rights do you think women in the United States have? What other rights do you think women would like to have that they do not have now? Which of the rights listed do you think women had in the United States in the 19th century?

5) In class, poll the students to discover everyone's answers. Write the results on the blackboard. Discuss: were women's rights in ancient Egypt similar to those women have today? What additional rights do women have today? What changes have there been in women's rights in the United States since the 19th century? How do you think these the changes came about?


1) Using the rights listed on the form called

find out if women in 19th century America had these rights. Find out how women achieved the rights they did not have in the past.

2) Find out if women in classical, ancient Greece had the rights listed on the form.

3) Find out the meaning of these terms: equal rights; civil rights, birthright, human rights, women's rights, copyright. Have these rights always existed for everyone? Which groups have had to struggle for these rights?

This lesson is from our unit
Bird of Destiny
Egypt during the Reign of Queen Hatshepsut
which features the relatively high status and rights of women in this period.

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
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Women in World History Curriculum