Women's Rights


For decades, the Reform Movement has advocated for women’s full and equal participation in society. As the first Jewish movement in America to ordain female clergy, we know that women’s equality is necessary to create a world where all people are treated with respect and dignity.  Despite years of progress toward gender equity, women still face systemic barriers to full equality. On average, American women currently make 82 cents for every dollar earned by men and are routinely and systematically denied agency over their own bodies. One in three American women and one in two Canadian women report physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and the #MeToo movement has underscored that the Jewish community is not immune to the pervasive nature of sexual harassment.  

Why Jews Should Care

Our advocacy around women’s equality is based in the Jewish value of kavod ha’briyot, respect for human dignity.

The value of kavod ha’briyot is core to our advocacy around gender pay equity. Valuing a person’s work by paying them a fair and equal wage demonstrates a respect for their inherent dignity. In a society that places so much emphasis on the idea that hard work leads to success, paying women less than their male counterparts signals that their work is worth less, and, as a result, that they are worth less.  This understanding is accurately conveyed in the Talmud, which states,

“One who withholds the wages of a hired laborer, it is as though they take their soul from them" (Baba Metzia 112a)

The Mishnah teaches us that violence against another human has repercussions far greater than the act itself:  one who injures another person is liable on five counts and responsible for paying for five factors: for the injury itself, for pain, for healing, for loss of time, and for embarrassment (Bava Kamma 8:1). This multidimensional understanding of personal injury can be applied to addressing the insidious and pervasive nature of physical and sexual violence, which we know most disproportionately impacts women and girls.

Take Action

Urge Congress to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is the United States' most comprehensive resource for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. VAWA is up for reauthorization every five years, however, Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in 2019. Each reauthorization provides a new opportunity to enhance these safeguards and ensure all survivors of gender-based violence have access to the resources and protections they need.

Urge Congress to End Pay Discrimination

American women today make, on average, 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of color: African American women make 62 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, Native women make 57 cents, and Latina women make 54 cents. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.

Related Issues


Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence is violence that is directed at an individual based on their sex or gender identity. Gender-based violence is rooted in unjust power relations, structures, and social and cultural norms, and as a result, worldwide, women are disproportionately harmed by gender-based violence. 

Repo Rights Rally

Reproductive Rights and Women's Health

The Reform Movement's positions on reproductive rights are grounded in the core belief that each person should have agency and autonomy over their own bodies. Our advocacy around abortion access is inspired by the Jewish value of kavod ha’briyot, respect for individual dignity.

Hands holding a piece of paper that says "50/50"

Pay Equity

On average, American women currently make 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of color: African American women make 62 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, Native women make 57 cents, and Latina women make 54 cents.

What's New

2021 is Almost Over: Congress Must Act Before the New Year

December 17, 2021
We are in a time of great crisis, facing pandemics of systemic racism, poverty, climate change, voter suppression and COVID-19. Millions of Americans experience unemployment, hunger, and housing insecurity, facing the threat of climate change daily. People of Color and other marginalized communities experience the most adverse consequences. And the country continues to face endless attacks on our voting rights and reproductive rights. Before Congress breaks for their winter recess, there is much left to be done.

As Oral Arguments Begin in the Supreme Court, RAC-TX Leader Shares the Impact of TX Abortion Ban

November 1, 2021
Each week, as I light the Shabbat candles, I whisper a silent prayer. Often the prayer is for the health and safety of my family and friends – particularly my three granddaughters. Recently, however, my prayers have been more universal. I pray for the people who find themselves facing the difficult prospect of ending a pregnancy and, living in Texas, are unable to do so.

Join us in Rallying to Defend Reproductive Rights on October 2nd

September 24, 2021
The right to abortion is meaningless if it is not accessible. On September 2, 2021, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold Texas’s anti-abortion legislation, the most restrictive in the country. This new law is a novel strategy to restrict abortion access by banning abortions after six weeks and giving people the power to sue abortion providers. In fact, private citizens are incentivized to sue, as anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider, or anyone suspected of helping someone access an abortion, is entitled to at least $10,000 plus their legal fees. Anti-abortion politicians in other states are eager and ready to follow suit, with Florida legislators already drafting their own bill.

Related Press Releases

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Reform Judaism's Resolutions on Women's Rights

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions View Other Reform Judaism Resolutions

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Engage Your COngregation

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Toolkit

Every April, we can raise awareness about sexual assault in our communities, educate ourselves on preventing and responding to cases, and advocate for survivors’ rights. Explore this toolkit, which provides programming ideas and advocacy tips and resources.

Join the Brit Olam

Is your congregation or sisterhood passionate about reproductive rights? Learn more about the RAC Brit Olam, and consider joining the Reproductive Justice Cohort, run in partnership with Women of Reform Judaism, to join a network of congregations working together to take action.

Contact our Legislative Assistants

For more information on this issue, please contact Lillie Heyman. 

What Our Partners Are Doing

  • The RAC is partnering with Women of Reform Judaism on the Reform Movement’s Reproductive Justice Campaign, a platform that provides an organizing structure for congregations, women's groups, and other communities to take collective action for reproductive justice.
  • The Reform Pay Equity Initiative is coordinated by Women of Reform Judaism and the Women’s Rabbinic Network, with participation from all arms of the Reform Movement.  
  • The URJ and WRJ are members of the Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, made up of diverse national faith organizations that come together to advocate for national legislation and public policies that protect all people from domestic and sexual violence.