Women’s Rights Are Fundamental to Human Dignity

women rights

Women’s rights are fundamental to human dignity. When they are not met, it affects everyone. When they are met, the world is a better place – economically, socially and environmentally. This is why a society’s treatment of its women is one of the best indicators of the overall health of that society. Yet discrimination against women is widespread – gender-based violence, economic disparities, reproductive health inequities and harmful traditions such as child marriage are just some of the many barriers that still exist.

Women and girls should have the same opportunities as men to live free from injustice. When they have these opportunities, they are more likely to contribute to the growth and prosperity of their communities. In fact, societies that give women and girls equal status with men reap many benefits – including a stronger economy, lower rates of poverty, higher levels of education and improved public health. But despite the progress made in the past half century, the world is far from meeting the goals set out in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years ago.

In 178 countries, women are not afforded the same legal rights as men. They are disproportionately affected by poverty, lack of educational opportunity, violence and the burden of unpaid work. Women also face legal barriers to economic participation and employment, such as maternity leave and the right to take up jobs in hazardous industries.

Legal protections have a direct impact on key indicators such as the incidence of violence against women, unmet needs for family planning and access to financial services. And women’s representation in decision-making bodies such as parliaments and government has a strong influence on policies and legislation that benefit all citizens.

When asked about what a society with equal rights for women would look like, most people around the world agree that it is important to provide equality in pay and opportunities for advancement at work; to ensure the same rights in schools and hospitals; and to protect the right of women to have children. In addition, the vast majority of people support a ban on discrimination against women based on their marital status and an end to gender-based violence against women.

At medica mondiale, we are committed to working to dismantle the patriarchal norms and structures that systematically disadvantage and violate the rights of women. These structures are in the workplace, in laws that restrict women’s access to property and other assets, in schools that rely on stereotyped teaching methods, and in the ways that families and communities organize themselves and allocate resources. By tackling the root causes of these barriers, we can create a world where everyone has the same opportunities for a healthy and prosperous life. We must all stand up for women’s rights.