One of the key areas of “rights” on which Wollstonecraft focuses is education. While her essay is concerned with the “rights of woman,” the title was chosen partly in response to earlier writings by men, such as Edmund Burke, about the “rights of man” which used “man” as a collective noun to refer to all of humankind but at the same time distinguished between the innate qualities of men and women.
Wollstonecraft argues for the sameness of males and females as human beings. Her argument is close to contemporary human rights positions in that the fundamental humanity of all peoples is emphasized. Women, no different from men, have souls. The primary distinction is between humans and animals. Women's spiritual immortality, based on that principle, is the same as that of men. Women are also equally capable of reason and thus should be educated in the same way that males are. Learning to embrace virtue is a key component of education for all humans, as they must be taught how to overcome their passions and use reason to guide them along the path to right thoughts and behaviors. While humans are flawed, women are just as capable as men of working toward the perfection of their God-given nature.