Everyone deserves human rights like freedom from discrimination and the right to an education, health, and housing. Unfortunately, people’s rights are often restricted and violated because of their sex and gender identity. Women and girls face discrimination across the world, making work on women’s rights and gender equality essential. In this guide, we’ll explore women’s rights jobs, including why they matter, what women’s rights professionals do, where they work, and how to get a job in the field.
Why are women’s rights important?
There’s been significant progress in women’s rights over the years, but it’s unequally spread across the world and not significant enough. According to data, there are just 22 women in the top positions of government (and that’s a record number), the gender gap in the labor force has not shifted for the past two decades, and women continue to perform most of the unpaid care and domestic work. The COVID-19 pandemic deepened existing problems, leaving more women in poverty than men, increasing unpaid work, and worsening domestic violence. Women’s rights were so impacted that it will now take about 136 years to reach gender equality, which adds a generation to past estimates.
What do women’s rights professionals do?
There are many career options within women’s rights, including but not limited to women’s healthcare professional, lawyer, researcher, educator, social worker, journalist, consultant, and more. Whatever field they work in, women’s rights professionals focus on protecting the rights of women and girls, advocating for accountability when women’s rights are violated, and empowering women through humanitarian aid and long-term development assistance.
Where do women’s rights professionals work?
Women’s rights professionals are found everywhere from governments to intergovernmental organizations to NGOs to corporations. Here are some examples of the organizations offering jobs in this field:
An agency of the UN, UN Women focuses on areas such as women in leadership; freedom from violence; sustainable peace and resilience; women’s economic security and autonomy; and humanitarianism. The agency works with UN member states, governments, and civil society organizations on services for women, laws, and policies.
Founded in 1987, this nonprofit funds women’s rights initiatives around the world. It now works in over 170 countries focusing on areas like education, economic justice, health and sexual rights, and political participation. The fund operates by providing support grants, including multi-year grants, to activists leading the way. The organization’s goal is to support grassroots movements and build collective power.
Women’s rights intersect with immigrant and LGBTQ+ rights. This organization helps LGBTQ+ individuals and HIV-positive immigrants in the United States and around the world. Its work includes providing free legal services to asylum-seekers, immigrant detainees, undocumented immigrants, and LGBTQ couples and families hoping to reunite.
This international organization promotes and protects the rights of women and girls through legal advocacy. The staff includes campaigners, lawyers, regional partners, and community activists. The goal is to press governments to create better laws for women and to enforce existing laws. Equality Now’s four main priorities are ending sexual violence; ending harmful practices like child marriage; ending sexual exploitation like trafficking; and ending discrimination in law.
How do you become a women’s rights professional?
Because “women’s rights professional” is an umbrella term, there are many career paths you can take. Here’s a general overview of what the job process can look like:
Like most of the human rights field, the women’s rights sector doesn’t demand a specific degree. Most jobs require a bachelor’s (with higher-paying jobs asking for more education), but there are usually several disciplines that work. Women and gender studies or human rights seem like the most obvious programs, but depending on the specific work you want to focus on, a degree in economics, international development, history, sociology, communications, law, and others might fit better. For jobs not specific to human rights, but where you can specialize in women’s rights (think women’s healthcare/medicine), there will be other educational requirements.
Whatever degree you choose, seek out classes and other learning opportunities like workshops and lectures addressing women’s rights and gender equality. This provides the education you’ll want as a women’s rights professional.
Volunteering, internships, and networking
Gaining experience and building relationships is an important piece of the women’s rights career process. It’s rare to find even an entry-level job that doesn’t require some experience in the form of volunteer work or an internship. Many college programs have internship programs – some require you to have an internship to graduate – so always take advantage. Interning and volunteering with an organization can often help you get a job at that same organization or at least meet people who might lead you to other opportunities. You can also network by attending events and workshops for people in the women’s rights field.
Reluctant to volunteer or take an unpaid internship? Here’s a list of internships that pay.
How much do women’s rights professionals get paid?
Salaries for women’s rights jobs vary significantly because there are so many career paths you can take. On ZipRecruiter, the tag for “women’s rights jobs” shows a range of $33k-$119k a year. The average pay is $64,229. Your level of education, the size of the organization you work for, and your past job experience will factor into your salary.