04. Fundamental rights linked to gender /
Equality is a fundamental human right.
Equality is essential in the protection of basic human rights. However, inequalities between men and women persist in modern societies, and are often compounded by other forms of discrimination, preventing women from fully exercising their rights.
Remember equality is a fundamental right, whatever a person’s biological or social sex (gender), and regardless of the differences between people.
In 1948 almost all of the world’s countries committed to guaranteeing this equality by adopting the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. Article 1 of this Declaration states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”,
and Article 2 states “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
Men and women equal before the law
This equality should ensure women have equal rights with men in all fields.
In practical terms, it means ensuring that women and men have access to the same chances, rights, opportunities to choose, material conditions. For example the same access to medical care, sharing economic resources, the same participation in exercising political power while also respecting their differences.
Fundamental rights concern women and girls
The notion of equality related to fundamental rights should not be confused with that of identity. While in theory equality exists officially, in practice it is far from have being achieved.
It’s important to note that the issue of gender equality is not only limited to a question of human rights. It also includes the involvement and participation of women in all areas of development, in both public and private spheres.
So the greatest challenge in terms of fundamental rights concerns women and girls.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. Gender equality, as well as being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.
Unfortunately there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women.
Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.
Beijing 1995, a real turning point
The 1995 World Conference on Women, held in China, brought considerable progress. The Conference opened a new chapter in the struggle for gender equality. This culminated in the creation of a body called The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the world’s foremost intergovernmental body dedicated exclusively to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It helps set global standards for gender equality.
In another step forward, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved the creation of a body called UN Women, charged with expediting the process of achieving gender equality and empowerment of women. The goal is to end violence against women.
Violence against women is a real scourge affecting every country in the world. Worldwide 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence, inflicted by an intimate partner or others.
In September 2017, the Global Spotlight Initiative was established by the European Union and the United Nations, both of which are committed to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
Meanwhile November 25th has been proclaimed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments.
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