The Rights of Women and Girls
Discrimination against women means that specific laws or practices create a distinction, exclusion, or restriction on the basis of gender.
Democracies should strive to protect women's rights, encourage women's participation in all aspects of society and government, and create places for women to associate freely and express their views openly.
Legal rights for women include equal representation under the law and access to legal resources.
- Women's rights must be clearly stated — ambiguity of women's legal status remains a leading cause of poverty worldwide.
- Women should have rights to ownership and inheritance.
- Women should have the opportunity to take part in the drafting and implementation of constitutions and legislation.
Women's political rights include the right to vote in elections, to run for public office, to participate in government, and to organize politically.
- Democracies should support civil society initiatives — public and nongovernmental — that teach women how to vote and train them in political campaign techniques and the legislative process.
- Women's activism at all levels of civil society and government strengthens democracies.
Women and girls should have access to primary education. They should not be barred from attending or teaching in secondary schools and universities.
Economic rights give women control over their economic assets and help them avoid risky sexual and abusive relationships. These rights include:
- The same employment opportunities and criteria as men.
- Protection from job termination because of pregnancy or marriage.
- Participation in programs, such as microenterprise lending and vocational training, that enable women to generate income.
- The right to equal pay and to equal treatment and respect at work.
Democracies should strive to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls and provide equal access to programs such as:
- General health care, disease prevention, and prenatal care.
- Preventing HIV/AIDS, improving health care delivery to those infected, and reducing mother-to-child transmission of the disease.
- Combating traffickers who lure women and girls into forced prostitution or domestic servitude through deception, fraud, or coercion.
- Fighting so-called sex tourism that often exploits women and children.
- Educating families about the social and health consequences of early marriage.
- Supporting victims' organizations, including domestic violence and rape crisis centers.
- Training police, lawyers, judges, and medical personnel to reduce domestic violence.
- Eliminating female genital mutilation.