Every day, in every country, regardless of religion or culture, women and girls suffer human rights violations because of their gender. With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations drafted a resolution in 1948 to ensure the greatest possible protection for all human beings. This naturally includes the prohibition of discrimination against people perceived as women. Yet every day, all over the world, women experience the most serious violations of these human rights: violence in the family, by the partner or at the workplace, denial of sexual and reproductive rights, forced marriages, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, targeted abortion of female foetuses. Furthermore, discrimination against women leads to unequal life chances: the female half of the population worldwide generally receives less pay than the male half. Women often have no access to land, although they are the ones who cultivate the majority of it. In many countries, girls can go to school less often and for less time than boys can. Poverty tends to be female worldwide: of the approximately 700 million people living in extreme poverty, about 70 percent are women. And with almost 500 million people, the majority of illiterate people, two-thirds, are women. Our approach to the enforcement of women’s rights is feminist. We understand feminism as a movement towards the abolition of gender hierarchies and social injustice. However, feminism does not stand for gender justice alone. It is inextricably linked to changing social power relations that racially discriminate against or oppress, exploit or marginalise people based on their gender or age, sexual identity, religion, nationality, class, caste or ethnicity.
Jacqueline Ricciardi Werlen