We define the women’s movement as a subset of broader socio-political activism that focuses specifically on women’s gendered experiences, and their challenges. We use Donatella della Porta and Mario Diani’s definition of a social movement, which frames it as a distinct process where people are engaged in informal networks, connecting around shared identities and values. Movements work collectively, against “clearly identified opponents” - including systemic barriers to their commonly-held definitions of progress. Some examples of women’s movements such as the feminist movement may focus solely on the gendered discriminations women face, and may use an explicitly feminst approach to challenge and transform patriarchy in its various manifestations for example. Such movements may frame power using a distinct gender lens, rather than focussing on the class-, race-, ability-, or other barriers to equality and empowerment.
A women’s rights organization, by contrast, is a distinct and formal entity focused on women's rights issues and designed to promote gender equality and other goals These organizations often work within a human rights-based framework and approach, on a number of levels from community to national, regional, and international, and across a broad range of topics. Structures vary by geography, scope, and mission, but all of the women’s rights organizations in our project have an explicit focus on women’s rights, equality, and empowerment embedded within their strategy and across their programming. Many of the groups also self-identify as feminist organizations and are connected to and support various rights movements. Women's rights movement building and feminist groups may work around power, resources, service delivery, advocacy, or empowerment. Women’s rights organizations frequently work with movements, but their roles in their communities, and their contributions to change, are distinct as a result of these structural differences.
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