Women in World History

Curriculum Showcase




Women’s Rights from Past to Present engages students in critical analysis of primary sources to explore ways societal attitudes about gender difference shaped the rights accorded to women. The unit draws attention to the times the denial of women’s rights was challenged, and how the definition of rights has been expanded to be more closely aligned to issues important to the lives of most women.

The excerpted sources are global in scope, selected to represent a wide range of viewpoints, cultures, and eras. Each source has a brief introduction placing it in its historical context. Discussion questions and/or activities and research suggestions follow the readings.

The sources are presented in five stand alone thematic sections, each introduced with an explanatory essay.
The sections are:

• Ancient Laws and Influential Teachings
• Women’s Natural Rights: Enlightenment Debates - France and England
• Reform & Reaction: The Nineteenth Century
• The “New Woman:” Early Twentieth Century Debates
• Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

The unit also contains a unit overview, teaching outcomes, correlations to National History Standards and AP World History topics, a glossary, bibliography, relevant internet sites, and ways to use the sources in comparison activities.

Illustrated reproducible unit. 47 primary sources, Grades 9-College.

Spiralbound, 132 pages
8.5 x 11 inches
ISBN 1-890380-11-3
© 2008

Downloadable PDF File: $13.00 (No Shipping Charges)


Overview, The Primary Sources, Thematic Sections
Goals and Objectives
Historical Thinking Skills and Links to the Standards
Suggestions for Using the Sources
Glossary of Concepts to Understand
Selected Resources

SECTION ONE: Ancient Laws and Influential Teachings
Introduction - Overview
The Code of Hammurabi - Babylonia - ca. 1763 B.C.E.
The Code of the Assura - Assyria - ca. 1075 B.C.E.
The Twelve Tables - Rome ca. 450 B.C.E.
Great Code of Gortyn - Crete (Greece) Law. ca. 450 B.C.E.
Arthashastra - India - ca. 250-300 B.C.E.
Laws of Manu - India - ca. 200 B.C.E. - 200 C.E.
Hortensia’s Speech to the Forum - Rome - 42 B.C.E.
Lessons for Women - China - ca. 45-116 C.E.
Letter to Eleanor of Acquitaine - France/England - 1173
Christine de Pizan - France, - ca. 1364-1429
Isotta Nogarola - Italy - ca. 1418-1466
The Greater Learning for Women - Japan - 1762
Activities to Compare the Sources

SECTION TWO: Women’s Natural Rights: Enlightenment Debates - France & England
Introduction - Overview
The Male Debate: Rights for Women? Francois Poulain de la Barre, France-1673; John Locke,
England-1689; Marquis de Condorcet, France-1787/90; Citizen Prudhomme, France-1793;
Charles Fox, England-1797
Reflections Upon Marriage, Mary Astell, England - 1700
Contending for the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft, England - 1792
Women’s Petition to the National Assembly, France - 1789
Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, Olympe de Gouges, France - 1791
Citizenship and Right to Bear Arms, Théroigne De Méricourt- France -1792
The Napoleonic Code - France - 1800/20

SECTION THREE: Reform & Reaction: The Nineteenth Century
Introduction - Overview
“Stunned by this Sudden Blow,” Caroline Norton, England - 1854/55
“Certain Inalienable Rights,” The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, United States - 1848
“Woman’s Rights,” Reverend John Todd vs. “Women’s Wrongs: A Counter-Irritant,” Abigail Dodge,
United States -1867-68
“My Citizen’s Right to Vote,” United States vs. Susan B. Anthony - 1873
Debating Conflicting Rights, Arguments over the 14th and 15th Amendments, United States - 1867-69
“Women in Every Country,” First International Congress of Women’s Rights, Paris - 1878
“Letters of Liberation,” Raden Ajeng Kartini, Indonesia - 1879-1904
“Wasted All On Seeing If The Plates Are Clean,” Maria Eugenia Echenique, Argentina - 1876
“Between Two Extremes,” Malik Hefni Nassef, Egypt - 1909

SECTION FOUR: “The New Woman” - Early 20th Century Debates
Introduction - Overview
“Birth Control -- A Woman’s Right?,” the Netherlands, Germany, France, United States - 1880-1932
“Each Woman Should Have Her Own Choice,” Hiratsuka Haru (Raicho), Japan - 1911
“The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment): The Great Debate,” United States - 1923-25
“The Unfinished Task, Women’s Liberation,” Alexandra Kollontai, Russia - 1908-1926
“Purchase Marriage is Not Allowed,” Li Kuei-ying, China - 1960

SECTION FIVE: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
Introduction - Overview
The “Silent” Human Right and the Power of NGOs - Essay
Case Studies:
Domestic Violence - the Russian Association of Crisis Centers
Cultural Violence - Nigerian Women's Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
Sexual Violence in War - Equality Now, Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, NGO Coalition for an
International Criminal Court
Sex Trafficking - Captive Daughters, Sanctuary for Battered Women’s Legal Service, Coalition
Against Trafficking in Women, Human Rights USA
Analyze the Art
Design a Campaign
Research and Debate
Making Your Own Law
Discuss a Poster

Resources: Conferences, Treaties, Action, Organizations, Bibliography

PLACE AN ORDER: Downloadable PDF File

Check out the Sample Activity No. 1 for this Unit

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