“Women and girls continue to be killed on the basis of their sex and gender, rendered more vulnerable to femicide when being women and girls intersect with other grounds or identities,” said Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on the issue – whose brief includes examining the causes and consequences of attacks.
She stated that “they continue to be unable to organize freely, believe and speak and suffer the consequences.”
Ms. Alsalem’s remarks followed the presentation of her report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“In some countries, we have witnessed concerning regressions in their ability to access education, to move freely and to access sexual and reproductive health.
“These regressions are happening while the world navigates multiple crises of war, climate change, poverty and pandemics that clearly have a gendered impact and affect women and girls unequally,” Ms. Alsalem added.
Violence against women
We are at the halfway point in the race to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and “we have painfully realized that we are nowhere near achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 (on gender equality and empowerment)” the expert said.
According to the World Health Organization, Around 736 million, are subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner – a number that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade.
Intimate partner violence is the most common form suffered by women, with around 641 million affected globally.
The organization said younger women remain particularly at risk of such violence, with one in four women aged 15 to 24 suffering violence at the hands of an intimate partner by the time they reached their mid-twenties.
“Gender equality cannot be achieved without ensuring that women and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights and can participate in society equally and without discrimination,” Ms. Alsalem noted.
She said today, 50 countries continue to have nationality laws that contain gender-discriminatory provisions and in 24 of those countries, women are denied the right to confer nationality on their children on an equal basis with men.
The independent expert went on to say that sex and gender-based discrimination in nationality laws is one of the major causes of statelessness.
“Make no mistake: Statelessness and gender discriminatory nationality laws are tantamount to violence against women, as they constitute severe forms of discrimination against women and girls as defined by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.”
“They result in a vicious circle of human rights failures and violations, directly and indirectly exacerbating psychological, sexual, and physical violence,” Ms. Alsalem concluded.
She called on States to “uphold the objective, spirit and meaning of fundamental human rights obligations”.
Special Rapporteurs and other UN experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation. They serve in their individual capacity and receive no salary for their work.
SDG 5: EMPOWER ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS BY 2030
- End all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls
- Eliminate such harmful practices as early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation
- Adapt and strengthen legislation to promote gender equality and empower women and girls
- Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership in political, economic, and public life
- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care
Globally, almost half of all married women currently lack decision-making power over their sexual and reproductive health and rights.