Global state of play as per category of law

AuthorDeniz Devrim - Roland Blomeyer - Paul Dalton - Senni Mut-Tracy
Policy Department, Directorate-General for Extern al Policies
register ed. Child marriages shall not ha ve legal effect. Forced o r child marriages are violations of the ICCPR
and the Child Rights Convention (CRC) respectively.
Girls’ rights to education are protected in var ious int ern ational and regio nal con ventions . CEDAW calls for
sta tes to take all a ppropriat e measures to eliminat e discrimination against women in or der to ensure to
them equal rights to education.
3 Global state of play as per cat egor y of law
3.1 Civil and Political rights
Women’s freedom of movement is limited by both discr iminat ory leg islation and cu stomary la w in more
than 50 countries and almost no reforms addressing this issue have taken place in recent years. In one in
four countries, women are still n ot legally allowed t o trav el by the mselves, and in 45 co untries , women
cannot legally apply for a passport or travel outside the country in the same way as men. Even when laws
are n ot exp licitly discr iminat ory, in many coun tries cu stomar y or tr adition al pra ctices jeopa rdise wo men’s
right s in pr actice (OEC D, 2019a pp.152-154).
As regards laws on nati onali ty, tr aditio nal vie ws of m en as the h ead of hous ehold s till fuel dis crim inatory
laws that assign the father’s nationality to his children. Laws that re stri ct wome n’s ri ghts to pas s on t heir
nationality can take many forms. Women may for instance lose their nationality upon marrying a foreigner,
or women who lost their nationality through marriage cannot regain it after divorce (Egypt, Iraq).
Wor ldwide, 25 countries have nationality laws that deny women the right to confer nationality on their
children on an equal basis with men. The majority of these States are in the Middle East and North Africa
(12 co untr ies) and Sub-Saharan Africa (6 countries). Around 50 countries have nationality laws with some
gender-discriminatory provisions, such as denying women the right to confer nationality on foreign
spouses, or the right to acquire, change, or retain their own nationality on an equal basis with men. A
growing number of countries have taken action to achieve gender equality in nationality laws. In recent
year s, ref orm has been undertaken in Kenya (2010) , Tunisia (2010), Yemen (2010), Se negal (2013), Suriname
(2014), Madagas car (2017), and Sier ra Le one (2006, 2017). Howev er, sin ce 2014, o nly thr ee coun tries have
amen ded dis crimin atory pr ovision s in this are a (Niger , Br azil an d Ecuad or) (OE CD 2019a pp. 145-147).
Near ly all co untries gran t women the right to vote or to stand for public office. Electoral quotas h ave
gained international support, even though their introduction has been controversial in some countries,
where they were cr iticised as being discrim inat ory again st men a nd un derminin g a merit -based selection
system. The success of gender quotas is influenced by cultural attitudes, and the nature of the
parliamenta ry environment itself. Quotas or ot her special measures to ensu re gen der-balanced
represen tation in elected public offices were est ablished in 104 count ries at nat ional, and in 93 countries
at local level (OECD, 2019a). The best per former o f a gender balanced parliament is Nicaragua, where 46 %
of the memb ers of parliam ent are women.
Women’s access to justice can be denied or inhibited due to the existence of di scriminatory legal or
quasi-l egal framewo rks for the adm inistratio n of justic e. In those countries where traditional (village)
or religious justice foru ms operate either as a n explicit part of the o verall justice system, or with the de
facto consent of the State, women do not always have the same rights as men to bring cas es, to be present
at o r to sp eak dur ing the pro ceedings. They may also b e subject t o discrimin ation in t he adjudica tion of
disputes a nd enforcement of decisions.
Revie wing th e effect s of d iscrim inator y legislat ion on acces s to justice is crucial, as women’s justice needs
are often different from m en due t o higher levels of poverty and power dyna mics in the family and
comm unity . The specific n eeds o f wome n and g irls a re r ecognis ed in t he pr ocedur al ru les in civ il, crim inal

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