Women’s Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Women
The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project advocates systemic reforms in institutions that discriminate against women, including laws and workplace policies. The project focuses on issues of employment, violence against women, and equal access to education. Laws and policies that exclude women from certain jobs and places of work result in persistent disparities in income, wealth, and economic security.
Every woman should have the same rights as men, including sexual and reproductive rights. She should be able to decide on her husband and children, and she should not be subjected to violence based on her gender. Examples of this type of violence include rape, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and sterilization.
Some regional human rights treaties also protect women’s rights. For example, the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (the “Maputo Protocol”), which addresses genital mutilation, was adopted on 11 July 2003 and entered into force 25 November 2005. The protocol also specifies the right to dignity, equality in marriage, and the right to decide whether or not to have children.
Moreover, the UN convention on the Rights of Women (UNCRC) defines obligations states have to ensure the rights of women. This convention has been ratified by over 180 states. Equal rights for all citizens is a precondition for a free society. There must be no gender discrimination in political processes and among the people.
The UN General Assembly adopted a declaration in 1974 urging all countries to fulfil their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and protect the rights of women and children. In addition, the declaration stated that women and children should be protected from violence and sexual violence. The declaration was later ratified by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 1999.
While women’s suffrage was first granted in New Zealand, many countries still make it difficult for women to vote. In addition, in some parts of the world, women face discrimination in employment and access to economic assets. Moreover, violence directed towards women denies them their rights and often takes their lives. Meanwhile, in many parts of the world, maternal mortality remains high and unpaid care work imposes a huge burden on women’s lives.
Women’s rights are fundamental to the sustainability of societies. Despite progress, women are still not equal to men in terms of economic rights. Unpaid care work, low pay, and inadequate working conditions are all contributing factors to women’s inability to earn a living. Moreover, women spend double the amount of time doing domestic work than men do, and they often work longer hours than men do. Women are also under-represented in all levels of political leadership.
Violence against women is also widespread, and 1 in 3 women experience violence in some form. In fact, in 2017 alone, 58% of all women murdered were killed by a family member or intimate partner. In addition, over 650 million women are married before the age of 18 and more than 200 million have undergone female genital mutilation.