improving women's rightsTanzania has struggled to effectively develop in the realm of women’s rights. Women and girls struggle with sexual harassment in schools, discrimination, violence and an everyday battle to have the same opportunities as men do. In Tanzania, 60% of women live in extreme poverty. This disparity arises partially because of “shrinking productivity in the agriculture sector,” where many women work. When women are not allowed access to work opportunities, higher poverty rates arise. This takes Tanzania further from its goal of ending domestic poverty and improving women’s rights.

The State of Affairs for Tanzanian Women

Almost two-thirds of Tanzanian farmers are women, but women lack the same opportunities to thrive as men. Women have less access to credit, fewer chances for skills development and less time to devote to their work. Women’s farms are often smaller than men’s, which directly correlates to agriculture output. Moreover, “gender norms” and a lack of legislative development limit women.

Another unavoidable issue Tanzania faces in the battle for gender equality is violence. Per the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics, 40% of women have faced physical violence, and a fifth of women report experience with sexual violence. Furthermore, “35% of women have faced physical or sexual intimate partner violence” and 40% of 15 to 49-year-old women have experienced physical violence since 15.

What is USAID?

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development, and it focuses on foreign aid and development assistance.  USAID focuses on building communities through economic growth, agricultural advancements, women empowerment, gender equality and much more.

It further believes that a country’s ability to reach its full potential significantly comes from equitable access to education, free speech and opportunity. Women, men, girls and boys all need to have equal resources and control over the community and land to prosper as a whole. Almost 200 “gender advisors and points of contact” work toward the common goal of providing every human equal chances through gender equality. USAID continues the work of improving women’s rights and has a great impact on gender equality development in many countries, including Tanzania.

USAID’s Impact

USAID has had a great impact on improving women’s rights in Tanzania. In 2017, it launched the “Let Them Learn” campaign, which allows for girls out of school to pursue their passions. The campaign also empowers girls to speak up about gender equality and the restraints that stop girls from excelling in school. USAID has been working to empower the female community in Tanzania in order to help women and girls obtain rights and deserved opportunities.

For example, USAID has been working with Women in Law and Development in Africa to connect survivors with services. This effort has helped more than 18,000 victims of sexual and physical violence. In order to improve the work conditions for women in Tanzania, USAID has also helped launch numerous programs that allow women to explore what fields their futures are in.

Whether in agriculture, the building of entrepreneurship skills or learning more about business development services, USAID has made it a mission for women’s voices to be heard and for women to have the chance at a prosperous future.

Haleigh Kierman
Photo: Unsplash

Fight for Women's RightsWomen’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul has been a symbol of the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia for the last several years. Al-Hathloul has been making moves to actively challenge aspects of the Saudi system and spark change in hopes of disrupting government narratives and dismantling gender discrimination.

Al-Hathloul’s History with Women’s Rights

Al-Hathloul has made her presence as a Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist known on more than one occasion with a series of bold actions opposing the Saudi government’s stances on certain issues. For example, al-Hathloul openly expressed her opinion on the nation’s driving ban for women in 2013. Shortly after, her father took a video of her while she was driving in Saudi Arabia that went viral. Al-Hathloul was arrested and held for more than 70 days as she tried to cross the border from the United Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia while driving.

She also shaped a campaign against the male guardianship system, which she believes consistently limits the rights of women. Al-Hathloul was among 14,000 signers on a petition to abolish the male guardianship system and was also one of the first women to stand for municipal elections in Saudi Arabia. In March 2018, al-Hathloul and more than 10 other women’s rights activists were arrested for their efforts to oppose the Saudi government. The group faced imprisonment and the media denounced the women. About a month after al-Hathloul’s arrest, the Saudi government lifted the driving ban. However, she faced a sentence of nearly six years in prison under multiple charges.

Her Family’s Plea and Her Ordeal

Notably charged under “Saudi counter-terrorism law,” Al-Hathloul attempted to appeal her initial guilty verdict. Al-Hathloul’s sister Lina has consistently advocated for Al-Hathloul’s case. Lina informed the public, together with several supportive organizations, of the torture, sexual assault and solitary confinement al-Hathloul underwent in prison. The Saudi authorities have rejected accusations of torture or wrongdoing. Al-Hathloul even went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions she and the other reformers were subject to because she did not want to endure such conditions anymore.

Lina has pleaded to the international community for support. Organizations call for reform in Saudi Arabia and for the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s allies. The Saudi government’s connections to the international community could lead to reform. Lina has called for the release of the reformers and has said, “I have no choice but to speak out and use my voice because my sister cannot. Our silence will not keep them safe.”

Where the Situation Stands

After approximately three years imprisoned, Saudi Arabia released al-Hathloul with limitations. Due to the kingdom’s human rights records, President Biden’s administration took stances that reflected a reconsideration of the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Al-Hathloul’s release has been perceived as a strategic diplomatic action by the Saudi government to relieve international pressures to improve conditions for women.

Today, improvements like the driving ban’s fall speak to the impact of al-Hathloul and other women like her. Though the situation remains challenging for al-Hathloul and her family, renewed international support gives hope for the future. As the fight for women’s rights continues, Saudi Arabia stands as a critical example of slow but deliberate change led by women.

Annamarie Perez
Photo: Flickr

Economic Violence Against Women in Turkey On March 20, 2021, Turkey announced its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a treaty focused on combatting violence against women. Violence against women is a significant problem in Turkish society. Violence against women takes many forms, but economic violence against women in Turkey is one type of violence that is particularly problematic for poverty reduction.

Defining Economic Violence

Also known as economic abuse, economic violence against women is a form of violence where women have no financial autonomy. Another person, often a husband or father, controls the women’s monetary resources and leaves her in a state of dependency. The Istanbul Convention includes economic violence in both its definitions of violence against women and domestic violence. Examples of economic violence against women include:

  • Barring women from accessing work and educational opportunities.
  • Preventing women from accessing the necessary funds for resources such as food.
  • Excluding women from decisions about their household’s income.

Economic Violence Against Women in Turkey

Economic violence is an issue many women face in Turkey. Women generally complete a disproportionately high amount of their households’ domestic work. According to the United Nations, Turkish women spend approximately “19.2% of their time” on wageless domestic work in contrast to the 3.7% of the time that men spend on unpaid domestic work. Placing women in a position where they spend so much time on unpaid work makes women likely to become dependent on male family members and susceptible to economic violence.

Social expectations and perceptions of the roles of men and women play an important part in economic violence against women in Turkey. Perceptions of women as performers of domestic work and men as laborers create an expectation for women to engage in unpaid labor, making them susceptible to economic violence. When Turkish women are members of the workforce, which only 35% of Turkish women currently are, they accept the seizure of their income by their husbands due to cultural norms of male “dominance in the domestic environment.”

Working to End Economic Violence Against Women

Ending economic violence against women is critical to ending other forms of violence against women. While exposure to economic violence does not guarantee that women will experience other forms of violence, dependency on a male family member or partner makes women more susceptible to other forms of abuse from that person.

One significant challenge to preventing economic violence against women in Turkey is that the country currently lacks adequate systems to monitor most aspects of its progress toward Sustainable Development Goals concerning gender equality. Consequently, data about Turkish women is incomplete, which makes it challenging to determine the extent of the economic violence against women in Turkey.

With the data that is currently available, researchers have identified factors that reduce rates of economic violence against women. One critical factor is education. Research shows that men with high levels of education are less likely to perpetrate economic violence against their wives or female partners than less-educated men. Factors such as expanding employment opportunities for women and preventing substance abuse among men are also associated with lower rates of economic violence against women.

Organizational Efforts to Economically Empower Turkish Women

Several organizations focus on improving Turkish women’s economic rights. The International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW) is one of these organizations. BPW Turkey implements several programs in Turkey to improve economic opportunities for women. Its Pace to Employment and Assurance for a Respectable Life (PEARL) program teaches women skills they need to be financially independent. Furthermore, BPW Turkey’s Civil Initiative Strategic Research Center (SISAM) improves awareness and understanding of the U.N. Women’s Empowerment Principles and provides educational programming on these principles to entities such as local governments and human resources staff.

Economic violence against women in Turkey is an ongoing issue, but it is not unpreventable. Working with both men and women can help women obtain and maintain autonomy over financial resources and break the cycle of violence against women.

Caroline Kuntzman
Photo: Flickr

Global gender equalityIn the fight for global gender equality, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is leading the way. According to the Peace Corps, gender equality means that “men and women have equal power and equal opportunities for financial independence, education and personal development” and is a crucial issue worldwide. Recently, the Gates Foundation made a significant donation to help support global gender equality efforts. This is not the only action the organization has taken to express its passion for establishing gender equality. The Gates Foundation’s efforts, with support from other organizations, will make great strides in the fight for global gender equality.

A Generous Donation

At the 2021 Generation Equality Forum, the Gates Foundation announced it would donate more than $2 billion to help improve gender equality worldwide. Over the next five years, the foundation plans to use the money to advance gender equality in three main areas: economic support, family planning and placing women in leadership roles. The Gates Foundation’s goal behind this decision is to specifically focus on gender-related issues that have worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the International Labor Organization found that unemployment for women increased by nine million from 2019 to 2020. Since the foundation has dedicated itself to supporting gender equality for many years, this monetary commitment will accelerate its progress.

Actions From the Foundation

Besides its billion-dollar donation, the Gates Foundation has been dedicating its work to create solutions for the lack of women’s equality for many years. In addition to several other million-dollar donations, in 2020, the foundation formally established the Gender Equality Division to prioritize its commitment to improving the lives of women and girls. From family health to economic empowerment, the foundation is working on expanding access to a variety of social, medical and educational services. This includes analyzing factors that help or hinder women and advising international governments on how to better support gender equality.

Solutions From Other Organizations

Aside from the Gates Foundation’s various efforts, other projects can improve circumstances relevant to global gender equality. One vital step to this process is looking at data from around the world. Data2X created a campaign that draws attention to issues associated with gender and proposes possible improvements. Similarly, another organization, Equality Now, uses legal and systemic advocacy to help improve global gender equality. Furthermore, after donating more than $400 million, the Ford Foundation has also committed to helping fix various gender-related issues. These issues include inequality in the economy and workforce.

The Gates Foundation’s donation of more than $2 billion is one significant step in eliminating global gender inequality. With initiatives worldwide, women and girls are gaining the equality and respect they should have always had. In addition, the Gates Foundation is supported by Data2X, Equality Now and the Ford Foundation. Together, people everywhere are working to understand and improve global gender equality.

– Chloe Moody
Photo: Wikimedia

women's rights in Canada
In 1884, Ontario became the first Canadian province to grant women the same legal rights as men through the Married Women’s Property Act. In 1900, Manitoba became the second province to recognize the act. While this proved to be a turning point for women’s rights in Canada, a great deal of work remained.

In 1928, five women, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby, petitioned the Canadian government to have the Supreme Court decide whether the British North America Act recognized women as “persons.” The court initially ruled that women were not considered “persons” under the act, but in 1929 it reversed its ruling. While this was a huge advancement of women’s rights in Canada, it was advantageous mainly for white women. It wasn’t until 1960 that women belonging to minority groups received full legal rights, including the right to vote.

Canada’s Gender Wage Gap

Through the years, the Canadian government has striven to promote gender equality across the country. However, plenty of work remains. In 2015, a U.N. Human Rights Report raised concerns about Canada’s economic inequality and in particular cited “persisting inequalities between women and men.” Similarly, in 2016, a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked Canada as having the eighth-highest gender pay gap out of 43 surveyed countries.

Women in Office

Women make up an estimated 50% of Canada’s population, and representatives should reflect their constituents. Following the 1929 clarification of “persons” in the British North America Act, women eventually began holding elected office. However, decades passed before women of color received the same legal rights as white women. Even today, the Canadian government struggles with a lack of diversity.

Fortunately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it his goal to change this trend. In July 2021, Trudeau appointed Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor general. Her appointment marks a major milestone for Canada as the country continues to grapple with past and current discriminatory practices against Indigenous communities.

Women in the Workforce during COVID-19

As the world continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians remain unemployed, and women have experienced higher rates of job loss than men. According to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), almost half a million women who lost their jobs during the pandemic have been unable to return to the workforce as of January 2021. Among those most impacted were women of color, immigrants, young professionals and new mothers. The pandemic forced many companies to downsize, and experts warn that these changes could permanently and disproportionately impact women.

Progress in Recent Years

Despite lingering uncertainties, Prime Minister Trudeau still believes the country can “smash one of the defining inequalities of our time.” Recently, Canada has pledged $100 million to address inequalities in both unpaid and paid care work internationally, as well as $80 million to support feminist movements and organizations around the world.

In July, Canada also announced the creation of the Pay Equity Act, which will go into effect on August 31, 2021. The new law will promote gender equality and help close the gender wage gap. It will also apply to parliamentary workplaces. Under the Pay Equity Act, employers will inform their employees of an upcoming new pay equity plan by November 1, 2021, create a pay equity committee and then share their pay equity plan with employees by September 1, 2024.

Canada’s ability to acknowledge its flaws will open new opportunities for the country to end gender inequality. The government’s commitment to advancing women’s rights in Canada and around the world will bring about needed change and serve as a blueprint for other countries hoping to improve women’s rights.

Jordyn Gilliard
Photo: Flickr

women's rights in BelizeAlthough gender roles in the Americas are constantly evolving, Belizean women still face discrimination. Women make up more than 50% of Belize’s population, yet they are approximately 30% less likely to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Belizean women also have little representation in the country’s political, social and economic spheres. The fight for women’s rights in Belize aims to remedy gender-biased treatment by prioritizing equality.

Gender Roles and Gender Gaps

Gender roles in Belize are typically traditional, with significant value placed on marriage and childbearing for women. Belizean women are often expected to stay home and look after the children, while men are the primary breadwinners. In families living in poverty, women often depend on men for economic stability.

The rate of employed people older than 15 and living under the international poverty line in Belize falls at 8.8% for women and 11.3% for men. However, the U.N.  Women Count Data Hub finds that Belize’s unemployment rate for people older than 15 is 9.8% for women but only 4.6% for men.

In regard to political representation, women held only 12.5% of the seats in the nation’s parliament as of February 2021. Women in Belize also face exploitation in the workforce, earning “only 56% of the income” earned by their male counterparts, according to Statista. Yet, in terms of literacy rates for people older than 15, Belizean men and women are on par at 70.3%.

Belize’s gender gap is often attributed to chauvinistic societal standards that favor men and traditional masculinity. Additionally, the lack of gender-based data makes it difficult to assess the true state of women’s rights in Belize. Only about 37% of the data needed to monitor sectors such as unpaid domestic work and violence against women was available as of December 2020.

Violence Against Belizean Women

In the year 1992, “the Belize Domestic Violence Act was passed.” The act was reenacted in 2007, with broadened and extended protections. The Women’s Commission of Belize is an instrumental figure in gender-responsive legislative reform and women’s rights.

In June 2010, the Belizean government adopted the three-year National Gender-based Violence Plan of Action, which aimed to remedy the domestic violence, assault and abuse that disproportionately affects women and young girls. The Women’s Commission also developed a “domestic violence protocol” for Belizean police, “with the goal of improving the effectiveness of police investigative practices in addressing violence against women.”

However, many Belizean women continue to suffer violence, especially those who live in rural areas. More than 70% of rural women experience violence at the hands of their partners. Not only do these women often lack basic infrastructural resources but they also face difficulties in accessing protective services. Additionally, domestic violence studies often overlook Belizean women in rural areas.

Improving Women’s Rights in Belize

In order to promote gender equity, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) guided the creation of the 2017-2021 Country Programme Document (CPD). The CPD outlines a program that prioritizes three focal areas covering issues such as safety, sustainability, health, justice and resilience, “with gender as a cross-cutting theme.” As the CPD addresses poverty, the CPD also aims to address gender equity as part of bettering Belize.

In addition to helping develop domestic violence protocol for law enforcement, the National Women’s Commission of Belize partners with organizations such as the Belize Crime Observatory and the Ministry of Human Development, Families & Indigenous People’s Affairs. As an advisory board to the government, the Commission promotes women’s rights in Belize through political and social advocacy and provides resources to women facing domestic abuse.

In a year, the Belizean police receive more than 2,000 “domestic and sexual violence reports.” However, victims often endure “unfair treatment when reporting.” The National Women’s Commission aims to remedy this with the launch of the Gender-Based Violence Services Complaint Form in 2020. The form encourages reporting and identifies the authorities involved in unjust treatment.

Efforts from the government and organizations contribute to a more equitable future for women in Belize, empowering women to rise out of poverty.

Cory Utsey
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Child marriage in MoroccoChild marriage in Morocco is still widely prevalent in 2021, though there are efforts to expand girls’ rights and empower women. A worldwide issue, child marriage is an issue Morocco has long struggled with because of various legal frameworks. But, there is hope for the country’s girls as activists and groups work to reform laws and curb child marriage in Morocco.

Child Marriage and Poverty

There are many reasons why child marriage in Morocco is so prevalent. Most significantly, it is a longstanding cultural tradition as well as a widespread practice in Islam. Once a girl starts menstruating, according to Moroccan society, she has reached “the marriageable age.” Additionally, girls in rural Morocco must preserve their virginity until they become wed. Since the act of reproduction is so signifcant, families marry off their daughters at early ages because it “allows young women to have more children than those married later.”

Child marriage also enforces economic and social stability as marriage comes with money, status and property. Often, these girls come from families suffering in poverty. Because girls get married off early, they miss out on educational opportunities, making them completely dependent on their husbands. Consequently, poverty and illiteracy are driving factors in the girls’ futures, exacerbating cycles of poverty even further.

Moudawana

According to Morocco World News, Morocco’s Family Code, also known as Moudawana, is the root of the problem in permitting child marriage. In 1958, Morocco established Moudawana, a traditional family law that permits practices such as “polygamy and forced marriage.” The traditional family law was the main legal framework responsible for legitimizing forced child marriage.

However, the Family Code was officially reformed in 2004 to raise the minimum marriageable age of girls to 18 and provide more rights to women in marriages. This includes rights to inheritance and the sharing of marital property. While the law still permits polygamy, it is legal only under strict conditions. Activist groups like the Moroccan Women’s Rights Movement have been advocating for these changes to allow more rights to women and girls. Nonetheless, challenges persist.

Looking at the Numbers

According to Reuters, 16% of Moroccan girls younger than the age of 18 marry illegally, despite the revised Family Code law prohibiting this. Since the 2004 reform, the number of underage marriages surged by almost 50% by 2016, though some activists claim this statistic should be higher. Families get around the Moudawana through loopholes in the law, allowing them to marry off their daughters at earlier ages. According to Morocco’s Ministry of Justice, in 2019, 98% of requests for marriage to underage girls came from rural regions. This exemplifies the difference in ideology and practice between rural and urban areas as well as how circumstances of poverty increase the likelihood of child marriage.

Hope for the Future

Despite these statistics, there is hope for combating child marriage in Morocco. In 2020, the National Council for Human Rights and the United Nations Population Fund partnered for “a collaborative effort to end child marriage and promote sexual and reproductive health in Morocco.” Through education and awareness, the organizations’ joint missions will ensure poverty is alleviated alongside ending child marriage.

Additionally, the Moroccan organization called Droits & Justice is also working to end child marriage in the country. The organization launched the Combatting Underage Marriage through Legal Awareness (CUMLA) Project in 2014. The initiative educates young girls, parents and entire communities about the severe consequences of child marriage.

By partnering and collaborating with local associations, Droits & Justice hopes to increase local awareness and create large-scale change. With these methods, the organization is hoping to get closer to eradicating child marriage in Morocco. Droits & Justice “has succeeded in educating more than 500 women, including 250 underage girls.” The organization also helped with almost 30 child marriage cases.

Although child marriage has been a longstanding issue in Morocco, legal reform and the efforts of activist groups are encouraging. These are signs that Morocco is approaching a culture free of child marriage, and consequently, a future free of poverty.

– Laya Neelakandan
Photo: Unsplash

Women’s Rights in MaldivesIn recent years, the Republic of Maldives established itself as an upper-middle-income country with a booming tourism sector. The nation’s islands, spread across many atolls, have become a popular destination for luxury stays in overwater bungalows. International visitors provide half of the Maldives’ revenue. With jobs and opportunities on non-native islands, women have been stepping out of traditional domestic roles and are migrating to urban areas for greater economic independence. This shines a light on women’s rights in the Maldives.

Obstacles to Women’s Rights in the Maldives

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on the citizens of this island nation. Tourism and related services affect standards of living and lifestyles significantly. In 2019, poverty in the Maldives had fallen to 2.1%. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that poverty rates would rise to 7.2%.

The pandemic has impacted women’s rights in the Maldives in two significant ways. Firstly, women experienced income losses more severely than men, and secondly, women reported an increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence.

Women in the Workforce

In the Maldives, which has a historically patriarchal culture, many women rely on informal employment and financial contributions from others to make a living. This disqualifies them from unemployment and other forms of COVID-19 assistance. Although many men also engage in informal work, 54% of women have seen their income decline during the pandemic compared to only 40% of men.

As a result of the pandemic, many women are not only earning less and receiving less from family or friends but are also unable to qualify for assistance. Government support and charity remain the only stable resources during the pandemic. However, women benefit less from both forms of aid on average.

With the economic success of tourism and related fields, many women migrate to the capital city of Malé where opportunities for formal work and economic independence abound. Still, only 59% of women make a living from paid employment relative to 70% of men.

When the COVID-19 virus began to spread, tourism in the Maldives came to a halt and women were the first to lose their jobs. As the economy suffered, the cost of living in Malé forced many to return home to rural communities and resort to informal work. The implication is that many of these women may never return to the city or to formal employment.

Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence

COVID-19 brought financial stress and upheaval to many homes in the Maldives. In a U.N. Women survey, 68% of Maldives women reported increased mental and emotional stress since the onset of the pandemic. The study identified likely stressors to include economic strain and the rise in gender-based violence.

A surge in gender-based violence and domestic violence reports occurred after the nation’s lockdown and again when the Maldives lifted its COVID-19-related restrictions. During the lockdown, welfare services were secondary to the pandemic response and there was also a relatively low number of reports. However, the instances of violence may be higher. Lockdown and restrictions place the affected women in constant, close proximity with perpetrators while financial stress and lifestyle changes compound instances of violence. In the Maldives, societal norms dictate the authority of men and shame women for coming forward with reports of gender-based violence.

Moving Forward

Despite these recent setbacks, the country is making progress in improving women’s rights in the Maldives. Women have made strides for gender parity in education and are building a sense of empowerment through financial security. The nation has set an example for other countries with an equal ratio of boys to girls enrolling in and completing primary and secondary school.

The Maldives’ Strategic Action Plan for 2019 to 2023 notes women’s economic participation, representation in government, sexual harassment and domestic violence as policy priorities. The planning document also recognizes that additional resources are necessary to follow through on important gender equality legislation. The Maldives introduced it recently to address these disparities.

Within the past decade, the Maldivian government has introduced the following legislation to advance women’s rights in the Maldives: the Gender Equality Act (2016), the Sexual Harassment and Prevention Act (2014), the Sexual Offenses Act (2014) and the Domestic Violence Act (2012).

COVID-19 presents a challenge to the momentum building for women’s rights in the Maldives, but with the return of international tourism, projections determine that the economy will rebound. Looking forward, women’s economic empowerment should remain a priority for the Maldives to continue making significant gains in gender equality.

– Angela Basinger
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is also the last country in Europe to grant women suffrage. On July 1, 1984, by a small majority (51.3%) at the all-male national referendum, women legally received the right to vote with the Constitution being amended to include women citizens older than the age of 20. More than 37 years later, women’s rights in Liechtenstein still need development in comparison to Liechtenstein’s neighboring European countries.

Lack of Women’s Rights

Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy that observes a hereditary line of succession. This means the first-born male inherits the throne, excluding all female descendants. Criticism of this tradition has echoed throughout the country. However, it is unlikely a change will occur with this long-standing practice of the country.

Conducted by the U.S. Department of State, a 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices found gender-based discrimination in the workplace for women in Liechtenstein. Immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQIA+ and women with disabilities have come forward with their experiences of harassment in the labor market. The report identified that there were 32 cases of domestic violence against women in 2019. In addition, the country has only one women’s shelter, Frauenhaus, which housed just 13 women that year.

The report continues to also disclose that women in Liechtenstein face a significant pay difference in comparison to men. On top of the pay gap, women in Liechtenstein, specifically in private sector upper-level management, face underrepresentation with little-to-no opportunity for promotion.

Making a Change

Research on wage inequality in Liechtenstein in both private and public sectors shows that there is an average 16.5% pay gap between men and women. Analytics show that one cannot explain almost 7% of this pay gap by “objective characteristics” including training, professional status and qualifications. Reporting wages to the National Administration is one possible way to combat the gender pay gap. However, this initiative faced dismissal.

Groups like the Women’s Network argue that Liechtenstein’s government delegates the responsibility of gender equality policies to NGOs. However, political and social action to improve women’s rights in Liechtenstein is progressing. While the change has been slow, growth has been evident over the last few years.

Raising Awareness

Founded in 1997, the Women’s Section of the Liechtenstein Employees Association advocates for gender pay equality. The association does this by creating awareness campaigns, increasing national wage transparency and promoting equal pay between men and women across Liechtenstein. The economic empowerment of women is crucial in reducing any level of poverty and fighting the gender equality women in Liechtenstein face.

At the 23rd session for the United Nations General Assembly, Liechtenstein endorsed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This progressive plan works to advance women’s rights for decades across 189 countries. The Platform for Action focuses on closing the gender pay gap while enabling access to decent work for women, creating an end to violence against women, lowering maternal mortality rates and increasing women’s ability to participate in places of power in various industries across each country.

In 2016, Liechtenstein, along with all other 46 members of the European Union, signed the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention, a treaty centered around the prevention and fight against violence and domestic abuse toward women. The Convention focuses on prevention, protection, prosecution and coordinated policies. Liechtenstein did not ratify the Convention until June 17, 2021, so it will not take effect until October 21, 2021. But, it is hopeful that progress regarding gender inequality will result from the enactment.

Seeing Results

In the country’s most recent election cycle, seven women will now serve in the parliament, setting a record of 28% female representation. During the government elections, Sabine Monauni set out to become Liechtenstein’s first female prime minister, but she will now serve as the Deputy Prime Minister. However, the totality of the newly sworn-in government is majority female with three women and two men.

As recently as a few months ago, a historic moment for women’s rights in Liechtenstein occurred. In April 2021, the Liechtenstein women’s football team competed in its first international match. While the team lost to Luxembourg, the match was a victory for the women of Liechtenstein.

The issue of women’s rights in Liechtenstein is an evolving topic and one that will hopefully continue to move in a forward motion over time. Liechtenstein is approaching four decades of women’s suffrage and systemic change is beginning to take real shape.

Annaclaire Acosta
Photo: Flickr

Women's rights in New ZealandOn September 19, 1893, New Zealand Governor Lord Glasgow signed off on a new Electoral Act, granting women the right to vote. New Zealand ushered in a new phase of the women’s suffrage movement by becoming the first self-governed nation to allow women the right to vote. Women’s rights in New Zealand have always mattered to New Zealanders, a notion that has become more apparent in recent years. Following the 2017 election, women made up 38% of parliament. Women have held positions in high-ranking offices such as prime minister, governor-general and chief justice. A brief overview of New Zealand’s history reveals that the country has progressed at an accelerated pace over the last decade and is continuing in the right direction.

3 Advancements in Women’s Rights in New Zealand

  1. Paid Leave for Miscarriages and Stillbirths. Women’s rights in New Zealand still play a central role in political affairs. In March 2021, New Zealand’s Parliament approved a bill that provides paid leave for women and their partners after miscarriage or stillbirth. A miscarriage is defined as a loss of pregnancy “earlier than 20 weeks of gestation,” whereas stillbirths can occur after such a point. The only other country to provide paid leave for women following a miscarriage is India.
  2. Women in Parliament. The rich diversity within New Zealand’s culture is displayed within its parliament. New Zealand is ranked number five in the world for its representation of women in parliament. The growing number of women in cabinet has further advanced women’s rights in New Zealand. The country also prioritizes women’s rights in legislation. It has also delivered an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially focusing on vulnerable groups such as women. New Zealand’s parliament is making great strides in supporting women.
  3. Equal Pay. New Zealand’s commitment to the advancement of women’s rights continues to serve as an example to other nations. In 2018, New Zealand’s parliament unanimously passed the Equal Pay Amendment Bill that guarantees equal pay for workers, regardless of gender. A similar bill was passed in 1972. However, the most recent bill focuses on pay equity. It guarantees that women in “historically underpaid female-dominated industries” will have the same compensation as men in “different but equal-value work.” The bill also makes it simpler for workers to lodge pay equity claims. It also establishes guidelines for pay comparisons, ensuring any possible gender pay gaps are fair and justified.

The Road Ahead

The country continues enacting policies to advance women’s rights in New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also offering relief to those hit hardest by COVID-19. Due to Ardern’s exceptional response to the COVID-19 crisis, she was victorious in her re-election campaign. As the country pushes ahead in hopes of eliminating COVID-19 altogether, New Zealand’s government proposed a $2.8 billion income support initiative. The initiative will serve as financial assistance to the country’s most vulnerable group: women.

As history and current policies reveal, New Zealand is making great strides in terms of women’s rights. The country’s commitment to gender equality is reflected in its legislation and its parliamentary representation.

– Jordyn Gilliard
Photo: Flickr