The advancement of human rights for women has been a major focus in the 21st century, with governments and non-governmental organizations all striving to achieve gender equality.
Throughout the world, women have been denied access to basic rights such as education and equal pay, with many governments failing to recognize the importance of women’s rights.
In the face of these challenges, governments, non-governmental organizations, and women’s rights activists have made great strides toward achieving gender equality in recent years. A phrase that has become popular amongst women’s rights activists is “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”
This phrase expresses the importance of recognizing and protecting the human rights of all women, regardless of their race, class, religion, or any other distinguishing factors.
A Long War: Human Rights for Women
What do we mean when we talk about women’s rights being human rights? We are referring to a long history of gender-based discrimination and violence against women that has denied them access to the same rights and privileges as men for centuries.
In the 19th century, women were largely excluded from the workplace, denied access to education, and restricted in their ability to travel and take part in public life. Even after suffrage, women continued to experience gender-based discrimination in the workplace, unequal pay for equal work, and even sexual harassment and assault in some workplaces.
This discrimination persisted well into the 20th century, and even today, women are often denied the same rights as men and continue to face numerous challenges and obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
In many parts of the world, women continue to suffer from gender-based discrimination and violence, which is a sad legacy of centuries of systemic oppression and inequality.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, women had to fight tirelessly against a deeply ingrained patriarchal system, and although much progress has been made, there is still much more that needs to be done.
In many parts of the world, women have traditionally been considered second-class citizens, with limited access to education, jobs, and other opportunities compared to their male counterparts. This is a clear reminder of the need for sustained efforts to break down gender barriers and promote gender equality.
But why is this comparison necessary? There is no need to compare men and women in terms of rights, opportunities, and capabilities; both genders are equally capable of achieving the same goals and have an equal right to pursue their dreams and ambitions.
While there is a history of gender inequality, it should not be the norm. Going forward, we must work towards creating a society where both genders are treated equally, given the same opportunities, and provided with equal access to resources so that each individual can reach their fullest potential and both genders can share equally in the success of our society.
This requires a shift in societal attitudes, which must begin with education and the recognition that gender does not determine the abilities and talents of individuals.
Electrifying our society with greater awareness of gender inequality and empowering individuals to recognize their worth and potential, regardless of gender, can help create a more just and equitable society in which the value of both genders is respected and upheld.
This process of attitudinal change, along with the implementation of policies that ensure equal access to resources and opportunities, can help us move towards a society in which gender inequality is no longer tolerated.
The struggle for gender equality has been a long and arduous journey, beginning in the early 19th century when actresses began to make their mark on the profession and continuing until today when activists continue to fight for legal and social recognition of the inherent value of all genders.
The progress made in recent decades has been significant; however, it is still not enough to ensure that all genders have equal access to the same opportunities and resources available to those who have traditionally been privileged.
Reproductive/ Sexual Rights
In particular, reproductive and sexual rights remain key areas in which improvement is needed. Women around the world are still fighting to gain control over their bodies and access to basic healthcare, as well as to have their voices heard in the decision-making processes of those that affect their lives.
These issues are even more pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, where women face a great deal of discrimination when it comes to healthcare access and decision-making power. Many countries, however, are beginning to recognize the importance of women’s rights and take steps toward achieving them.
On an international scale, organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization have been advocating for women’s rights in areas such as reproductive and sexual health for decades.
Freedom of movement
The right to move freely is a critical component of women’s rights and has been a cornerstone of the struggle for gender equality. In the past and even in this modern era, women are not allowed to walk or move freely without facing discrimination or harassment.
But why? The question remains: why, in a world where gender equality is seen as a core value, do women still face such restrictions on their freedom of movement? This lack of access to basic freedoms can have dire consequences for the health, safety, and well-being of women, both on a physical and psychological level.
Women’s rights campaigners have fought to reduce this type of discrimination and ensure women can travel freely, whether it be for work, leisure, or any other purpose.
Right to live with dignity and decency
However, despite the progress made in recent decades, the fight is not over, and many women still lack access to basic freedoms. Living with dignity and decency is still a challenge for many women, whether it be in terms of access to quality healthcare, education, or other resources that can help them lead dignified and fulfilling lives.
Women’s rights campaigners continue to advocate for the right of women to live in dignity and decency, and they are pushing for increased access to resources such as healthcare, education, and other opportunities that allow them to enjoy a safe and fulfilling life.
Right against workplace harassment
Women also have the right to be free from workplace harassment and discrimination, which can severely limit their economic opportunities and make it difficult for them to access decent jobs that pay a living wage.
Governments and businesses must take action to ensure that all women have access to decent working conditions, a fair wage, and safe and supportive environments in which they can live with dignity.
How did protecting women’s rights become important?
Protecting women’s rights is essential for the protection of their human rights, the advancement of gender equality, and the realization of an equitable and just society. Women’s rights are a matter of human rights and must be respected, protected, and fulfilled by all states as a core part of their obligations under international human rights law.
Without action, millions of women around the world are denied access to these basic rights, and their right to be free from discrimination and violence is often violated. Women’s rights violations also have a profound effect on society, preventing women and girls from achieving their full potential as well as hindering economic and social progress worldwide.
Women are not merely passive victims of violence and discrimination but also active agents of social change, fighting for the recognition and respect of their human rights and striving to create a world in which all women and girls can live with dignity.
This is why it is so important that governments commit to the protection and promotion of women’s rights and fulfill their obligations under international human rights law.
Worldwide initiatives for women’s rights
Programs for women’s rights around the world have made great strides in increasing women’s economic opportunities and access to education, improving access to health care, and combating discrimination in all its forms, including gender-based violence and trafficking.
Few initiatives are as ambitious as the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which seek to ensure that women have access to basic human rights and economic opportunities by 2030.
These global initiatives have given hope to women in some of the most vulnerable and marginalized societies, providing them with a much-needed platform from which to fight for their rights and be heard.
The Vienna Declaration
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted in 1993 and serves as a framework for the advancement of women’s rights, highlights the importance of having an inclusive agenda that takes into account women’s unique needs and perspectives when developing policies that seek to protect their rights and empower them.
International Population and Development Conference
The International Population and Development Conference of 1994 was a key moment in the history of women’s rights. The International Population and Development Conference of 1994 was a milestone in women’s rights, as it marked the first time that women’s reproductive health and rights were addressed at an international level and was a clear indication of the commitment of global stakeholders to the advancement of women’s rights.
The Beijing Declaration
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which were adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, further reinforced this commitment to advancing women’s rights by recognizing that gender equality and the empowerment of women is essential to achieving sustainable development.
The Conference and the Declaration acknowledged that sustainable development cannot be achieved without the full and equal participation of women in economic, social, cultural, and political decision-making processes and reaffirmed the importance of strengthening national capacity and international cooperation in the areas of population and development.
What does the foreseeable future of women’s rights entail?
Looking to the future, it is clear that women’s rights must remain a priority for global stakeholders. Governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, and individuals must work together to ensure that the principles and commitments established by the Conference and Declaration are implemented through public policies, regulations, and legal frameworks that guarantee women’s full and equal participation in all spheres of society.
Additionally, efforts must be made to ensure that women’s voices are heard at decision-making tables and that appropriate funding and resources are allocated to advancing gender equality and women’s rights both locally and globally.
Women’s rights and the Development Goals
Women’s rights are inextricably linked to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. To achieve this goal, concerted efforts must be made to ensure that all stakeholders take responsibility for advancing women’s rights and gender equality.
Sowing the seeds of progress and justice starts at the grassroots level and requires proactive measures, such as capacity building, increased access to education and healthcare, reducing gender-based violence, promoting economic opportunities for women, and advocating for better laws and policies that promote gender equality.
Visually, representing gender equality through campaigns and art is also an effective means of engaging wider audiences and driving meaningful change. Some stereotypes persist, making it difficult to establish a level playing field for women and girls in various sectors.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that diverse voices are heard and included in decision-making, particularly when it comes to policy and program development.
Human rights for women should be a priority for everyone, as they are essential to creating an equal and equitable society. This can only be achieved by actively working to create a culture of respect and inclusion for women and girls, as well as by encouraging diverse voices in all decision-making processes so that everyone can benefit from their unique perspectives and experiences.
Growing recognition of the value and potential of women, combined with proper protection of their rights and resources, will create a more balanced society that will benefit everyone in the long run.
Surprisingly, some people still do not understand why human rights for women are important, but the evidence is clear that without these rights, gender equality cannot be achieved and society will continue to suffer from the lack of female representation and leadership.
Finally, promoting greater education and access to employment opportunities for women can lead to increased financial security and autonomy, allowing them to reach their full potential as members of the global community. So, we must continue to push for gender equality to create a more equitable world for everyone.