Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies: Ms. Magazine Announces Collaboration with NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network and Rewire News Group


On Tuesday, May 15, Ms. magazine released the latest Women & Democracy installment: “Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies,” in partnership with NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network and Rewire News Group. The site explores the correlation between the health of democratic systems and the state of women’s rights and gender equity, in both the global and domestic contexts. 

A multimedia project made up of essays, video and podcast programming, “Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies” features an array of global and national experts, including NYU Law’s Melissa Murray and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf (who is also part of the Ms. leadership team); Chisun Lee, director of elections and government at the Brennan Center; Irin Carmon, senior correspondent for The Cut; Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health; Ria Tabacco Mar, director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project; Jessica Valenti, creator of the independent reporting newsletter, “Abortion Every Day”; and many others.

The United States was officially designated a backsliding democracy in late 2021, when it appeared on a prominent European think tank’s annual global ranking. Around the same time the U.S. made its debut on the list—still six months before the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but with Texas’ unconstitutional six-week abortion ban already in effect, rendering abortion care all but inaccessible in the nation’s second most populous state—advocates and journalists raised real-time questions about the correlation between regression on abortion rights and degraded democracies. A New York Times article asserted that such a descent is precisely when “curbs on women’s rights tend to accelerate.”

“Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies” flips that proposition on its head, asking instead: “Can a country that has never truly addressed women’s equality ever be a thriving democracy? And are democracies that have abysmal records on gender equity destined to falter?” 

According to the United Nations, the trajectory of “de-democratization” is rarely analyzed initially through the distinct lens of gender equity and there are insufficient efforts to systematically examine the current implications. Our initiative begins the process of applying that lens and drawing those connections.

The content is largely drawn from a full-day symposium held in New York City on April 14, 2023. 

Women & Democracy is Ms. magazine’s online forum that focuses on key issues impacting full and fair representation in our democracy. We team up with leading advocacy organizations—past partners have included the Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Reproductive Rights and Supermajority, among others—to publish a new multimedia issue each quarter.

Questions or press queries about the project can be directed to Ms. magazine at press@msmagazine.com.

About Ms. magazine: Founded in 1972 and published by the Feminist Majority Foundation since 2001, Ms. has been a trusted, popular source for feminist news and information in print and online for 50 years. Ms.’s time-honored traditions of an emphasis on in-depth investigative reporting and feminist political analysis have never been more relevant, bringing a new generation of writers and readers together to share news, analysis, research and strategies for fighting back and moving forward, for shaping the future.

About the NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network (BWLN): Through leadership development and training, research, and advocacy initiatives, the BWLN at NYU Law works to advance gender equity in legal education, in the public sphere, and in practice of law.

About Rewire News Group: Rewire News Group is a nonprofit media platform exclusively dedicated to reporting on reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice.