Women are entitled to enjoy the same human rights and fundamental freedoms as other individuals. International human rights treaties require State parties to take proactive steps to ensure that women’s human rights are respected by law and to eliminate discrimination, inequalities, and practices that negatively affect women’s rights. Under international human rights law, women may also be entitled to specific additional rights such as those concerning reproductive healthcare.
Women and girls are likely to face increase caregiving roles in the home, putting them under additional stress and potentially increasing their risk of infection. Across the globe, women comprise 70% of health workers, including midwives, nurses, pharmacists, and community health workers on the frontlines, increasing their risk of exposure and infection. Targeted measures to address the disproportionate impact of the crisis on women and girls are needed.
Women’s and girls’ rights are human rights. They cover every aspect of life – health, education, political participation, economic well-being, and freedom from violence, among many others. Women and girls are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of all of their human rights and to be free from all forms of discrimination – this is fundamental to achieving human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action confirm that the protection and promotion of human rights is the first responsibility of governments and core to the work of the United Nations. The Platform for Action firmly anchors the achievement of gender equality within a human rights framework and makes a clear statement about State responsibility in delivering on the commitments made.
The Charter of the United Nations guarantees the equal rights of women and men. All major international human rights instruments stipulate ending discrimination on the basis of sex. Almost all countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), described as the women’s international bill of rights.
Yet serious gaps and violations remain in every region of the world today and progress have been unacceptably slow, particularly for the most marginalized women and girls. Discrimination in the law persists in many countries. Women do not participate on an equal footing with men in politics. They face blatant discrimination in labor markets and access to economic assets. The many forms of violence directed explicitly towards women and girls deny them their rights and all too often their lives. Unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality continue in some regions. Unpaid care workloads continue to limit women’s enjoyment of their rights.
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