International Development Law Organization

Gender Equality

Gender inequality is an affront to human dignity, a challenge to the rule of law and an obstacle to development. Denying women of their rightful place in society – by depriving them of equal access to education, justice or livelihood – means robbing societies of the talent and potential of half of their members. In securing every social need from peace to food, the role of women has been shown to be paramount.

Although gender equality is increasingly a feature of national Constitutions, the law often continues to restrict women's rights and freedoms, dictates their submission to male relatives, or limits what they may own or inherit.

HRC 45 - Annual Discussion on the Integration of a Gender Perspective Throughout the Work of the Human Rights Council

Annual Discussion on the Integration of a Gender Perspective Throughout the Work of the Human Rights Council and that of its Mechanisms

Gender and Diversity: Strengthening the Intersectional Perspective in the Work of the Human Rights Council

COVID-19: Pre-existing gender discrimination provides fertile ground for increased inequality, to the detriment of food security and nutrition

This blog post is co-authored by Françoise Trine, Senior Food Security Officer, Secretariat of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and Dr. Ilaria Bottigliero, Director, Policy, Research and Learning, International Development Law Organization (IDLO).

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Key Initiatives

  • ​In June 2015, IDLO commenced the project: Researching the Impact of Land Tenure Registration on Land Disputes and Women’s Land Rights in Burundi. Land Tenure Registration (LTR) programs involve issuing proof of ownership to holders of land rights to increase their legal certainty. Such programs are undertaken for a variety of reasons. While much is known about the impact of LTR on factors like access to credit and agricultural output, there is a gap in knowledge of its impact on land disputes, particularly in post-conflict settings.
  • Since the revolution in 2011, Tunisia has experienced a period of significant political transition and change culminating in the adoption of a new constitution in 2014, which called for justice reform and protection of women’s rights. However, the practical application of the framework for legal assistance in Tunisia demonstrates the insufficiency of existing relevant mechanisms. Therefore, there is the strong need to empower women to access justice and claim their rights.
  • In Somalia, alternative justice mechanisms remain the main providers of justice services for lack of formal justice institutions. However, these justice mechanisms can be discriminatory particularly against women, youth and minority clans.
  • Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, has been devastated by armed conflict since September 2014. The conflict has received limited international coverage and human rights violations and violations under international humanitarian law suffered by the civilian population have been grossly underreported. All parties to the conflict have been linked to serious violations of international law, with inadequate accountability mechanisms in place to ensure justice for victims.
  • Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
  • In recent years Jordan has taken significant steps toward promoting economic development, including through strengthening rule of law. Judicial specialization in relevant areas, while promoting an enabling environment for capacity development within the relevant judicial institutions is crucial to maximize the impact of those efforts and ensure sustainability. At the same time, attention has been given to encouraging entrepreneurship, in particular women entrepreneurs, as a means to achieve economic growth.
  • In 2011, Indonesia adopted a law on legal aid which includes a national budget for legal aid providers to deliver access to justice and legal aid services to the poor. However, there is a lack of legal aid lawyers and organizations throughout the country, and lawyers do not necessarily have the sufficient skills for delivering legal aid services with a human rights, gender equality and social justice perspective. Many organizations also deal with a limited administrative capacity and struggle to meet the requirements in conducting legal aid reimbursement.
  • In Liberia, the most prevalent form of trafficking in persons involves women and children being trafficked from rural to urban areas, with family members usually acting as independent traffickers. The National Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons has developed a five-year National Action Plan (2019 – 2023), with IDLO support, which shows the commitment and political will of the Liberian government to combat trafficking in persons.
  • Recent research shows that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the leading problems impacting communities across Myanmar. Women in particular face significant and widespread levels of SGBV, with both formal and informal systems failing to provide satisfactory remedies. Inadequate legal protections, combined with pervasive cultural and social stigma, low public legal awareness, and deep mistrust in the formal justice system, pose a daunting range of barriers to accessing justice and other services such as legal, medical and psycho-social support.
  • Strengthening the domestic violence response in Mongolia IDLO is implementing a project in Mongolia that aims to strengthen the response to domestic violence and increase access to justice for survivors. 
  • Domestic violence in Mongolia is increasingly recognized as a significant problem. Law enforcement officials report that in 2016 domestic violence cases increased by 25 per cent in the first seven months of the year compared to the previous year. In response, the Government of Mongolia has begun to take legislative and policy steps to improve its response to the issue. While important steps continue to be taken, significant challenges remain.
  • Over a decade has passed since the end of conflict in Liberia, but incidence of sexual and gender-based violence has not diminished. Numerous studies reveal an extremely high prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence. According to an IDLO study, in 2015 1396 cases were reported to the Montserrado five one-stop clinics alone. Among those cases, 267 were reported to the Women’s and Children’s Protection Section within the Liberia National Police, 119 received an indictment, while only 3 cases went through to trial.
  • Women in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia, are significantly affected by considerable inequalities. Discriminatory legal frameworks and neutral laws enforced with underlying biases and stereotypes continue to hold women in the region back from fully participating in society. Crucially, this is also the case in political and other leadership and decision-making positions. Enhancing the contributions of women judges is particularly important as gender justice remains elusive in many aspects.
  • While women entrepreneurs in Jordan contribute greatly to the economic development of their countries, they face a range of legal, social and economic challenges as compared to men in setting up and running their businesses and resolving disputes. Lack of awareness among women entrepreneurs about their legal rights can prevent them from accessing legal avenues to help settle their claims, and lack of gender sensitivity among justice actors in the implementation of business and economic laws might lead to unintended biased decisions that adversely affect women-owned businesses.
  • Adolescent girls and young women account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among young people in sub-Saharan Africa. They are more vulnerable to HIV because they are often subjected to a range of gender and age based biases, discrimination and violence, including sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking. Despite growing HIV-related responses, they and their communities most often do not have the capacity, voice and power to hold these service providers accountable for improved delivery of quality HIV-related services.
  • Despite having reached satisfactory standards of democracy and improved the respect for human rights, Mongolia faces some serious issues in addressing high levels of domestic violence against women. Mechanisms and services for protection of and support to victims of domestic violence are still very limited. A lack of training, procedural guidelines and inter-agency coordination between justice sector actors often creates obstacles for victims and hinders an efficient response to domestic abuse. 
  • In Burundi, land tenure registration is the primary way for the government to deal with the large number of land disputes across the country. A series of pilot programs aimed at resolving land rights issues have been initiated in recent years. To date, however, it is unclear whether these pilot programs have had their intended effect of reducing the number of land disputes.
  • Mongolia has formally joined IDLO,  the latest stage in an expanding partnership for the advancement the rule of law. The  first communist-ruled nation outside the Soviet Union, Mongolia has over the last two decades built a democracy that is untypical of its region. But for all the efforts of its political class and civil society, it has some way to go to improve governance, enhance access to justice, and reduce inequality.
  • IDLO is working with the Government of Kenya to advance gender equality across the country and enact gender provisions contained in the Constitution. Since 2013, IDLO has partnered to enhance the capacity of the Government of Kenya to mainstream gender at both the national and county levels. IDLO’s support included strategic policy development, critical legislative review, expert technical advice, and institutional strengthening.
  • While the new Constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides for the right of every Kenyan to access justice, its implementation is vital to strengthen and support the changes required for a better Kenya. IDLO is supporting the Kenyan Government to implement the Constitution in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner, in accordance with international standards and best practices. This is being done with a view to enhancing access to justice for Kenyans, especially for women, children and other vulnerable populations.
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