Women’s rights include : the right to live free from violence and discrimination; to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn an equal wage.
But across the globe many women and girls still face discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Gender inequality underpins many problems which disproportionately affect women and girls, such as domestic and sexual violence, lower pay, lack of access to education, and inadequate healthcare.
For many years women’s rights movements have fought hard to address this inequality, campaigning to change laws or taking to the streets to demand their rights are respected. And new movements have flourished in the digital age, such as the #MeToo campaign which highlights the prevalence of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.
Through research, advocacy and campaigning, Amnesty International pressures the people in power to respect women’s rights.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries people began to agitate for the right of women to vote. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to give women the right to vote on a national level. This movement grew to spread all around the world, and thanks to the efforts of everyone involved in this struggle, today women’s suffrage is a right under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979).
However, despite these developments there are still many places around the world where it is very difficult for women to exercise this right. Take Syria for example, where women have been effectively cut off from political engagement, including the ongoing peace process.
In Pakistan, although voting is a constitutional right, in some areas women have been effectively prohibited from voting due to powerful figures in their communities using patriarchal local customs to bar them from going to the polls.
And in Afghanistan, authorities recently decided to introduce mandatory photo screening at polling stations, making voting problematic for women in conservative areas, where most women cover their faces in public.
Amnesty International campaigns for all women to be able to effectively participate in the political process.