Why gender matters in activism: feminism and social justice movements

Social justice movements are able to generate deep and lasting changes that policy change and development interventions alone cannot achieve. However, in many cases, women’s rights and gender justice remain low on the priorities of movements, even when women are active members. This article offers a preview of three case studies developed as part of the BRIDGE Cutting Edge programme on gender and social movements, which aims to inspire and support the inclusion of gender equality principles and practices in social justice  mobilisation. The case studies feature the global human rights movement (with a focus on Amnesty International), the CLOCVia Campesina movement in Latin America, and the Occupy movement in the United States. We summarise some of the strategies each social movement has used to encourage the integration of women’s rights and gender justice in both internal and external-facing work; discuss some of the challenges that the movements have faced in implementing these strategies; distil common lessons from the three experiences; and end by suggesting some prerequisites for positive gender transformation in social justice movements.

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