Global campaigners urge repeal of laws that discriminate women

BBC 100 Women 2017
BBC 100 Women 2017

Governments should revoke outdated laws that have perpetuated discrimination of women in different spheres of life like education, leadership and employment, campaigners said on Monday.

The campaigners said that archaic laws combined with patriarchy have slowed down the quest to achieve gender parity as envisaged in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5.”The vast majority of governments must urgently amend or repeal sexist laws, with no exception to religious or customary laws,” said Antonia Kirkland, global lead for legal equality and access to justice at the International lobby, Equality Now.

Kirkland said in a statement issued in Nairobi that discriminatory laws are to blame for fueling violence against women and denial of basic rights such as education, health and property ownership. “These discriminatory laws rob women and girls of their right to be free from discrimination and to enjoy all their human rights to the fullest,” said Kirkland.

Equality Now said in a report launched ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8 that repressive laws have relegated the female gender to the periphery in key areas like inheritance and citizenship. Equality Now Words and Deeds Report said that many countries still retain laws that prevent women from working, deny them the right to own land while the rise of nationalism could reverse the momentum towards achieving gender parity.

“With political will and commitment, the revocation of explicitly sex discriminatory laws and the strengthening of constitutional protections can be achieved by 2030,” said the report. Judy Gitau, Equality Now’s regional coordinator of Africa Office, said that repeal of discriminatory laws coupled with robust political leadership and citizens’ education is key to end harmful practices like female genital cut, child marriage and wife battery.

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