21 organizations that are fighting for women’s rights in the US and abroad

dress for success organization
Dress for Success is a global organization that provides women with professional clothes and career confidence. 
Carolyn Kaster/AP

From ensuring women around the world have a safe, quality 12-year education, to advocating for women who lack access to safe health care or who face discrimination in the workplace, there are numerous charities and initiatives dedicated to serving women and communities in need.

Dress for Success and LeanIn.org are organizations that empower women in the workplace. Other initiatives, such as Girls Not Brides, focus on protecting the lives and rights of young girls in developing regions and countries.

Keep reading to discover 21 organizations that are making an impact in the realm of women’s rights.

UN Women, an entity of the United Nations, encourages governments to design laws that support gender equality and empower women and girls.

united nations un women
A UN Women conference in 2017. 
Mary Altaffer/AP

In 2010, the United Nations founded UN Women to fill a void. Prior to the creation of UN Women, the UN did not have a department or team focused solely on issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, according to its website.

UN Women’s main functions include working with what it calls “intergovernmental bodies” and organizations, like the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, to create policies and global standards that relate to women in the workplace and gender wage gaps.

Included in the UN Women agenda are issues like women’s leadership and political participation, economic empowerment, ending violence against women, and amplifying voices of women living with HIV and AIDS.

The World Health Organization collaborates with academic institutions, UN agencies, and nonprofit organizations to address health disparities caused by gender inequalities.

organizations that support women's rights
The World Health Organization has a team dedicated to gender equality. 
Anupam Nath/AP

The World Health Organization’s team dedicated to gender, equity, and human rights aims to “address [health] disparities (caused by gender inequalities, inequities, and lack of human rights-based approaches) to ensure better health for all.”

Dress for Success, an international nonprofit organization, provides women in need with professional outfits, interview preparation, and career confidence.

dress for success organization
Women at a Dress for Success location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Dress for Success has been empowering women and female financial independence since 1997, and now has more than 150 chapters in 30 countries.

Women in need who have secured a job interview can qualify for services offered through Dress for Success by obtaining a referral from a hiring agency. They will then be given professional interview attire, which is donated, and often receive access to special events and networking opportunities.

The National Organization for Women has been fighting for women’s rights in the US since the 1960s.

women's equality
Women march up New York City’s Fifth Avenue during a women’s rights demonstration, circa 1971. 
Marty Lederhandler/AP

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has been fighting for women’s rights since 1966. NOW focuses on issues including the rights of women with disabilities, reproductive rights, and family law and justice. The NOW Foundation is the organization’s nonprofit arm that implements public education and litigation programs.

Planned Parenthood supports the reproductive health and rights of women in the US and globally.

planned parenthood
Planned Parenthood. 
Jeff Roberson/AP

Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care and health resources to people worldwide. The organization advocates for women’s access to safe health care and has centers throughout America, Africa, and Latin America.

CARE is a nonprofit relief organization that aims to end poverty by supporting women’s rights to education, health care, and safety from abuse and violence.

women's health baby hospital
CARE focuses on humanitarian relief and women’s rights. 
Fernando Antonio/AP

CARE is a US-based organization founded in 1945, when 22 American organizations sent boxes of food (known as CARE Packages) to World War II survivors. Today, the organization no longer sends CARE Packages, but rather focuses on donating to communities in need of disaster and emergency relief, with an emphasis on empowering women.

“Women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity, and protect natural resources,” according to its website.

The Malala Fund advocates for the rights of young women to have 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

malala yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai. 
Larry Busacca/Getty

When Malala Yousafzai was a young girl in Pakistan, the Taliban took control of her town and prohibited girls from attending school. Yousafzai was a vocal advocate for the education of girls and women, which made her a target for the Taliban. In 2012, she was shot by a Taliban official on her way home from school.

Read more: The incredible life of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who doesn’t have a cell phone or use Facebook and once left Jon Stewart speechless

Yousafzai became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate in 2014, and she currently studies at the University of Oxford. Her organization, the Malala Fund, supports Yousafzai’s vision of a world where “all girls receive 12 years of free, safe, quality education,” according to its website.

The Malala Fund supports education for girls in developing nations, including Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Syria region.

Girls Who Code aims to close the gender gap in technology by empowering young girls and women to learn programming.

girls who code
A group of young women involved with Girls Who Code on a STEM field trip. 
Bennett Raglin/AP

Girls Who Code, a US-based organization, empowers young women to pursue careers in technology and computer science. The organization offers after-school coding classes for young women in 3rd grade through 12th grade, as well as summer programs and an alumni network.

Founded in 2012 by Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code has worked with 185,000 girls in all 50 states, and college-aged alumni of the program are majoring in computer science at a rate 15 times the national average, according to its 2017 annual report.

The nonprofit organization LeanIn.org advocates for women’s rights in the workplace and facilitates mentorship circles around the world.

sheryl sandberg lean in facebook
LeanIn.org was founded by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. 
Eric Risberg/AP

In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, published “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” a book about negotiation, mentorship, and women in the workplace.

Following the fame of her book, Sandberg created LeanIn.org, an initiative of the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation. LeanIn.org supports women in the workplace by publishing resources for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace and advocating for equal pay.

Women around the world can join Lean In Circles, which are small mentorship and networking groups.

LeanIn.org also publishes an annual report called the Women in the Workplace report, which is the largest comprehensive study of women in corporate America, according to the website.

Girls Not Brides is a partnership of organizations around the world that fights to eliminate child marriage.

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Girls Not Brides. 

Girls Not Brides is committed to ending child marriage, which it defines as any formal or informal union where one or both of the parties are under 18 years of age.

The organization reports that 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married each year, which means 23 girls every minute.

Since its inception in 2011, Girls Not Brides has secured government commitments to address and eliminate child marriage, such as an agreement as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that requires all governments to pledge to end child marriage by 2030, according to its 2017-2020 strategy report.

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development is focused on attaining gender equality.

equality women's rights
Association for Women’s Rights in Development. 
Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX via AP

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) describes its mission as “to support feminist, women’s rights, and gender justice movements to thrive, to be a driving force in challenging systems of oppression, and to co-create feminist realities.”

AWID consists of more than 5,000 members — both individual and institutional — from 164 countries, according to its website.

The Center for Reproductive Rights fights for women’s reproductive freedom and access to safe, quality health care through litigation and advocacy.

A pregnant woman attends a sonogram at a local hospital in Shanghai..JPG
Center for Reproductive Rights. 
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Center for Reproductive Rights uses litigation and advocacy to fight for the rights of women to have access to quality reproductive health and resources.  The Center’s work has influenced national cases and United Nations committees.

The International Center for Research on Women conducts research and publishes data on gender inequality around the world.

international center for research on women
International Center for Research on Women. 

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is a global research institute based in Washington, DC; New Delhi, India; and Kampala, Uganda. ICRW conducts research about reproductive rights, violence against women, child marriage, and more — and those insights are used to inform policies and program development.

Girl Up is a leadership development organization with more than 3,000 clubs worldwide for school-aged women and girls.

girl up michelle obama
Michelle Obama speaking at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in 2015. 
Molly Riley/AP

Girl Up is a nonprofit organization founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, and it works to defend gender equality through leadership development training sessions for school-aged girls and women, according to the website. There are currently 3,300 registered Girl Up clubs in 50 US states, two territories, and 118 countries.

Girls on the Run chapters inspire confidence and healthy habits in elementary- and middle-school girls around the US.

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that promotes social, psychological, and physical health through running clubs for young women in the US in third grade through eighth grade.

Each Girls on the Run team is run by a certified coach, and participants build confidence as they train for and complete a 5K running event.

She’s the First advocates for the rights of women around the world to a 12-year education.

She’s the First supports the education of women around the world. 
Caren Firouz/Reuters

She’s the First partners with local organizations in 11 countries to run trainings, conferences, and campaigns that promote the rights of young women and girls to education.

She’s the First reaches 200 campus chapters and has mentored around 7,200 girls, according to its website.

Vital Voices provides mentors, advisers, and financial support to leaders who are spearheading human rights and gender equality programs.

Founded in 1997, the nonprofit organization Vital Voices connects leaders in human rights, economic empowerment, and political sectors to mentors and advisers. Vital Voices specifically promotes women’s rights by investing in people who are leading and starting programs and initiatives that promote gender equality.

PERIOD. provides menstrual products to communities in need and aims to change the conversation around women’s health.

woman feminine products tampon pad period
The organization PERIOD. aims to eliminate the taboo around women’s health issues. 
Kunlanan Yarist/Shutterstock

PERIOD. is a nonprofit organization that provides menstrual products to communities in need. The group also hosts events that aim to eliminate the taboo surrounding periods, like its annual State of the Period conference.

Co-founded by Nadya Okamoto, who experienced homelessness as a teen, PERIOD. is now the largest youth-run nonprofit in women’s health, according to the website.

UltraViolet partners with local and national allies and develops campaigns to fight for women’s equality.

ultraviolet organization advocacy
An activist from UltraViolet organizes a petition following the former Stanford University swimmer was sentenced to six months in jail after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. 
Eric Risberg/AP

UltraViolet describes itself as a “national advocacy organization that drives feminist cultural and political change.” Through actions like developing campaigns, organizing media coverage, thought leadership, and partnering with national and local coalitions, UltraViolet fights for women’s equality.

The American Civil Liberties Union is a national organization that works to promote gender equality and other social issues.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), through its Women’s Rights Project, litigates in court cases related to gender equality, women’s education, and women’s rights in the workplace.


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