b. October 13, 1944
“We need women leaders.”
Charlotte Bunch is an internationally renowned activist, feminist author and National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, who has devoted her life to women’s rights. She is the founding director and senior scholar at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, where she is also a distinguished professor in the Department of Women’s Studies.
Raised in a liberal family, Bunch spent most of her childhood in Artesia, New Mexico. She enrolled at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude in 1966. In college she was involved in the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Methodist Student Movement. She became a youth delegate to the World Council of Churches Conference and served as president of the University Christian Movement in Washington, D.C., before leaving the church over its homophobic policies.
Bunch became politically active in the women’s movement and later in lesbian rights advocacy. She was a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and cofounded The Furies Collective, a lesbian organization that espoused lesbian separatism. Bunch helped launch the publications Women’s Liberation and Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. The National Register of Historic Places named The Furies headquarters a landmark. It is the first lesbian-related historic landmark in Washington, D.C.
By 1979 Bunch had become a consultant to the World Conference for the United Nations Decade on Women, which lobbied for women’s rights globally. In 1989 she founded the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Douglass College at Rutgers University, which created the Charlotte Bunch Women’s Human Rights Strategic Opportunities Fund in her honor.
In 1996 Bunch was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton and the Women Who Make a Difference Award from the National Council for Research on Women. In 2002 Rutgers University honored her with its Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research.
Bunch has worked with numerous organizations, including the Advisory Committee for the Human Rights Watch, the Global Fund for Women and the International Council on Human Rights Policy. She consulted on the 2006 Report to the U.N. General Assembly on Violence Against Women and has written and edited many books and reports on women’s rights.
A documentary film, “Passionate Politics: The Life & Work of Charlotte Bunch,” explores her lifetime of advocacy on behalf of women worldwide.
LGBT History Month articles are a Project of Equality Forum and are presented with permission.