Feminists argue that society is structured in such a way that there is gendered division of labour between men and women. Historically women have been relegated to the private realm of unpaid domestic work and care for children or dependents and have not had equal access to the public realm of paid work and politics. This gendered division of roles continues to affect the extent to which men and women can be equal citizens. Some feminists argue that achieving equality in citizenship requires particular rights and policy measures aimed at ensuring women's inclusion in civil and political society.

'We live in a society that has over the years regarded the innate characteristic of sex as one of the clearest legitimizers of different rights and responsibilities, both formal and informal. …. "gender" - by which I mean the deeply entrenched instiutionalization of sexual difference - still permeates our society.' (Susan Moller Okin, Justice, Gender and the Family, 1989: 5-6)