Women’s human rights are fundamental to gender equality
Upholding women’s and girls’ rights is critical to achieving gender equality. As inequalities are apparent in all areas of life, and are interconnected, we recognise that there is no simple solution, and no easy way to prioritise what needs to be done. What we believe is most important, however, is for women and girls themselves to be able to identify and articulate their own priorities.
Women and girls need to be included as participants in development, and WISE Development works with governments, NGOs and international agencies to make that happen, focusing in particular on the important matters of equal access to basic services and violence against women.
Violence against women and girls
Based on recent estimates 35% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence from a partner – that is 818 million women . Violence against women and girls (VAWG) limits progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), violates women and girls’ human rights and can have a negative impact on long-term peace, stability and economic prosperity. Women’s lack of agency, assets and economic opportunity and their unpaid reproductive, household and caring responsibilities mix with toxic social norms to provide the perfect storm where violence and vulnerability can thrive in many countries.
WISE Development supports international agencies, governments and NGOs to tackle violence against women and girls through a multi sectoral approach – across communities, institutions and families – because it is an important human rights issue and fundamental to making progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.Find out about WISE Development Services
Equal Access to Basic Services
Because of women’s specific reproductive role, they are vulnerable to a range of human rights abuses in terms of their sexual and reproductive rights and also with respect to access to health services and healthy communities.
This underlies women’s lack of access to, and participation in, a range of other areas in their lives. If women cannot control the number of children they have, or suffer from a range of different injuries and illnesses from pregnancy and childbirth, they are often not able to work or to earn an income, and are unable to participate in politics and community or family decision making. Women are also the primary carers for children and the elderly in many of the poorest communities and their important reproductive, caring and household work is unpaid.
Women and girls should have equal access to education, to health, and to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services.
WISE Development supports international agencies, governments and NGOs to make progress in enabling equal access to basic services for women.Find out about WISE Development Services
Policy and legal frameworks for human rights
Policy and legal frameworks need to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls – and they need to be implemented.This is particularly crucial in the areas of access to education – girls should have equal rights to boys – and in the area of sexual and reproductive health, and rights to health overall.
WISE Development supports international agencies, governments and NGOs to make progress in developing policy and legal frameworks that protect and uphold the rights of women and girls.Find out about WISE Development Services
CEDAW and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Women’s rights and gender equality are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1979 The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is often described as an international bill of rights for women. CEDAW describes and is the backdrop for much international work on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 took place in Beijing and produced a Programme of Action (called the Beijing Platform for Action). This acts as an action plan to implement the rights enshrined in CEDAW. It also acts as a reference point for women, women’s groups and social movements all over the world to be aware of their rights, and so to exercise them and ensure they are protected by the law of their country, by their communities, their families and other institutions (including the private sector).
WISE Development supports international agencies, governments, and NGOs to make progress towards achieving gender equality through providing expertise in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.Find out about WISE Development Services
Gender Equality Experts in Human Rights
Fatimah Kelleher is an international women’s rights and social development consultant with fourteen years experience working with a variety of international, regional and national stakeholders in Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.