Women’s Rights – The Right to Live Free From Discrimination and Injustice

Women rights are the rights that all women and girls have to live free from discrimination and injustice, and enjoy their full potential. These rights include economic participation, education, health care, safety and freedom from violence.

Until women and girls have these rights, our societies cannot achieve equality, and women and their families will continue to be disadvantaged. This inequality is not only harmful to individuals, but also impedes development and economic growth.

In many countries, there are fewer opportunities for women than men to participate in the economy and have access to jobs that pay well. This is often referred to as a “gender gap.”

Every woman and girl should have the right to make her own choices about sexual relations, pregnancy and birth. This includes the right to choose if, when and who she wants to marry, access to family planning and safe abortions, and the choice not to have children at all.

These rights are essential for a healthy and productive society, as well as for the achievement of other international goals. But they are not universally available to all people, and there is a long way to go.

Achieving gender equality requires more and better access to power, including political and executive authority. This means ensuring that women are able to exercise their vote and hold positions of leadership in their governments and in their communities.

While there have been important advances in the political representation of women, a growing number of countries remain behind. Today, women represent 21.9 percent of parliamentarians globally, and 39 lower houses of Congress around the world are made up of at least 30 percent women.

This level of representation is still a major challenge, and women are often prevented from exercising their rights to vote or to be elected to positions of power because they do not have the necessary support from other people in their communities. The repercussions of this are widespread and devastating.

There is a widening gender divide in the United States as well, with a large share of Americans expressing dissatisfaction with the state of gender equality. About six-in-ten Americans (64%) say the country hasn’t gone far enough in giving women equal rights with men, while a smaller share (33%) says it’s about right and just one-in-ten (10%) says it has gone too far.

Despite progress on these issues, many women continue to experience discrimination and inequality throughout their lives, especially in developing nations where women are less likely to have the same legal rights as men. These gaps include access to health services, land ownership and reproductive health care.

Achieving gender equality requires the commitment of governments and civil society to advance these rights, including by promoting laws, policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equality. It also requires greater investment in gender statistics, since less than half of the data required to monitor Goal 5 are currently available.

Efforts to achieve gender equality need to be accompanied by increased investments in the education, training and employment of women. These efforts should focus on empowering women with the knowledge and skills they need to take control of their own lives, and contribute to the success of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.