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Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women's rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Changes in dress and acceptable physical activity have often been part of feminist movements.

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Map showing origin nations of Tahirih Justice Center clients
The Tahirih Justice Center is a United States-based non-governmental organization that serves immigrant women and girls who are fleeing from gender-based violence and persecution through pro bono direct legal services and social and medical service referrals. Tahirih helps women who are attempting to escape from such abuse as female genital cutting, domestic violence, human trafficking, torture and rape. The organization also conducts public policy initiatives designed to achieve legislative change for women fleeing from human rights abuses, to highlight problems faced by immigrant women in the United States, and to end the possible exploitation of mail-order brides by international marriage brokers. The organization is named after Táhirih, an influential female poet and theologian in nineteenth century Persia who campaigned for women's rights. Tahirih is a Bahá'í-inspired organization, although its clients and employees vary widely in ethnicity, religious identification, and nationality.

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Queen Elizabeth I of England
Credit: Steven van der Meulen

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I of England in her early 30s by Steven van der Meulen. Parliament and the public expected her to marry to continue the royal lineage. The large two meter tall painting was intended to emphasize her availability and made full use of the symbolism popular in Tudor England. The tapestry in the background features a royal crest to the left with an empty throne beneath it, representing the hope for future king (and therefore the queen's marriage). To the right of the tapestry is a scheme of ripe fruit and sweet flowers, echoing the queen's "ripeness" for matrimony. This theme is further reinforced by Queen Elizabeth holding a carnation, which was considered a symbol of marriage. Though she had many suitors, Queen Elizabeth would never marry, later being venerated as the "Virgin Queen".

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Hilda Doolittle plaque
Hilda Doolittle, better known by the pen name H.D., was an American poet, novelist and memoirist. She is best known for her association with the key early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets, although her later writing represents a move away from the Imagist model and towards a distinctly feminine version of modernist poetry and prose. Doolittle was one of the leading figures in the bohemian culture of London in the early decades of the century. Her work is noted for its use of classical models and its exploration of the conflict between lesbian and heterosexual attraction and love that closely resembled her own life. Her later poetry also explores traditional epic themes, such as violence and war, from a feminist perspective. H.D. was the first woman to be granted the American Academy of Arts and Letters medal.

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Louisa Lawson


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Ani DiFranco
My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it's very open-ended; every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.

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