A new partnership focused on reforming gender-discriminatory laws was unveiled on February 14, 2017 at an event co-hosted by UN Women, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Equality Now, in New York. The “Roadmap for Substantive Equality: 2030” aims at repealing or amending laws that discriminate against women and girls, and ensuring that laws are grounded in gender equality and women’s human rights, and fully implemented, as part of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The event brought together representatives of parliaments, governments, civil society and international organizations in an effort to promote partnerships to support gender equality by 2030.
Despite some progress in the last few years, it is estimated that 90 per cent of the countries around the world still have at least one discriminatory law in their legal frameworks. These range from laws that prevent perpetrators of rape from being prosecuted if they are married or subsequently marry the victim, to the lack of enforcement of laws banning child marriage or female genital mutilation.
“Laws that discriminate against women and girls entrench and perpetuate gender inequality. We need to create a change that lasts and breaks the cycle of discrimination for good, so that the progress we have made prevails in future generations,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director.
“The full realization of all women’s fundamental rights requires transforming power relations and addressing structural inequalities. It also means enabling women to take ownership of their lives, their bodies and their destinies,” said IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, speaking at the launch of the Roadmap. “These rights have to be enshrined in properly enforced laws. This is where parliaments and members of parliament, have a key role to play.”
Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now stressed that “Equality under the law is a prerequisite for gender equality, because laws determine the choices women make in life. In the past 20 years we have seen a lot of progress. Yet we are worried about the pace of change, particularly on the rim of family laws”.
The initiative aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5 on gender equality, and target 5.1, which calls on ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere by 2030, covering all areas of discrimination in law, policies, and practices. UN Women has been tasked to develop the content and methodology of the indicator measuring progress towards this target.