All over the world, women continue to suffer discrimination and violence. In many countries, discrimination is enshrined in the law : women are refused equal rights in marriage and divorce, to custody of children, nationality, inheritance and land. But even in those countries where women have achieved – often partial – equality in law, laws are rarely fully implemented. Violence against women persists as a result of inadequate legislation to protect victims and prosecute and punish perpetrators, obstacles to access to justice and a lack of political will on the part of public authorities who tolerate the spread of violence against women. When violence against women is not punished, it contributes to a culture of impunity which in turn contributes to the repetition of such crimes.

Women are not just victims. Everywhere, they are the leading figures of their own emancipation. Yet women’s rights defenders are targeted with particular forms of repression because of their sex and the nature of their activities.

Women remain massively under-represented in political and other decision-making bodies. Since 2000, the United Nations Security Council has adopted a series of resolutions recognizing the crucial role of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peace consolidation.

However, more than a decade later, only a handful of states has adopted national action plans, implementation remains weak and women continue to be marginalised in peace negotiations.

FIDH defends women’s rights

In order to promote the respect of women’s rights in law and practice, FIDH focuses action on two strategies:
  • advocating for the ratification, without reservation, of international and regional instruments protecting women’s rights (CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the CEDAW, Maputo Protocol) and their implementation. In order to achieve these goals, FIDH participates in two campaigns, alongside national member and partner organisations :
  • - in the Arab region since 2006: the Campaign « Equality without reservation ». Within the context of the Arab spring, FIDH advocates for political transitions to ensure the protection and promotion of women’s rights : for an arab women’s spring.
  • - in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2009: the Campaign « Africa for women’s rights ». FIDH calls on African States to ratify international and regional instruments protecting women’s rights and to implement them in law and practice.
  • In every part of the world, access to justice for women victims of violence is limited. As a result of gaps in legislation, inadequate laws, stigmatisation and reprisals against victims, defective justice systems, costly proceedings... violence against women goes unpunished. FIDH endeavours to facilitate access to justice for survivors of violence. FIDH documents obstacles to justice at the national level and advocates for reforms. In several cases, FIDH provides legal assistance and representation to victims of crimes of sexual violence in DRC, Guinea and Ivory Coast before national courts. FIDH also advocates before international and regional courts for the systematic inclusion of sexual and gender-based crimes in prosecution strategies.

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