Studies show that when women have property rights, such as this woman in Kenya, they are more likely to invest their profits from increased production into the family—mainly in education and health. (Neil Thomas / USAID)
When the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical majority overturned Roe v. Wade, it destroyed rights countless women fought and died to win some 50 years ago. But the Dobbs decision went far deeper: It reaffirmed the historical denial of women’s equal citizenship. The majority argued the right to abortion is not “deeply rooted” in U.S. history and tradition, referring to over two centuries ago, when women were legally chattel under the doctrine of coverture and could not vote, hold property or enter into contracts—a time when they belonged not to themselves, but to men.
To reclaim reproductive rights and achieve gender equality amidst a strong backlash, we must establish women’s “equal legal personhood” and eradicate the patriarchal notion about women’s second-class citizenship. To do so, our vision for gender equality must be unrelenting and holistic. The women’s movement must seize this opportunity to cultivate fierce intersectionality at home and to deepen bonds of sisterhood between U.S. women’s movements and feminist movements globally. After all, Dobbs will have an impact around the world. And when women’s human rights are violated, the whole planet suffers.
Yet across vast differences in culture and identity, climate change and poverty affect women disproportionately as a result of gendered discrimination. Women of color and women living in poverty have suffered most—and again stand to suffer the most now without federal protection for abortion rights.
One global lens provides an intersectional, global and radical approach to championing reproductive rights and overturning patriarchy: increasing rural and Indigenous women’s control of land and natural resources.