by Dr. Atieno Mboya
“Gender equality means ensuring equal opportunities for women and men and equitably valuing the contributions of both.
Empowerment of women through law refers to women using the legal system to secure their goals for equality, agency, and equal opportunities and income with men.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls reiterates the unfinished, universal struggle for women’s rights around the world. The Goal calls for:
(i) Increased women’s leadership and
participation in governance
(ii) Strengthened women’s economic
(iii) Increased protection of women against gender-
based violence and access to justice for
women (Sustainable Development Goals
Knowledge Platform 2019)
The feminist movement, which advocates for women’s social, political, legal, and economic rights, equal to those of men, continues to be the catalyst for women’s fight for gender equality. The objective of increasing women’s leadership and participation in governance is a liberal feminist approach to gender equality, which aims to integrate women into existing power structures. As of 2020, a long road remains to be traversed in this regard, with, for example, only 20 countries having female Heads of Government (UNWomen 2020b). The second objective, strengthening women’s economic empowerment, when operationalized, increases women’s life choices and agency because of the greater economic independence they have. And the third objective, protecting women from gender-based violence and ensuring they have access to justice, aims to realize and protect women’s fundamental human rights to life, dignity, and freedom from violence. These objectives and the overall global goal of achieving gender equality are embedded in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the national laws of states that have ratified the Convention. CEDAW is an international agreement that lists the rights of all girls and women concerning achieving equality between girls/women and boys/men (CEDAW 1979).
This entry will survey the relationship between women and the law in the context of the struggle for gender equality. It will examine how women have been defined as legal subjects over time and traditional legal restrictions that have been upheld against women, using examples drawn primarily from the United States, where there is a robust legal trail for dismantling those restrictions and advancing women’s rights. Victories that women in the United States have won have had reverberating impacts in other parts of the world, surveying the American women’s rights experience relevant to the global women’s movement, which is today reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals. The entry will explore constitutional and legislative doctrines that evolved to remove the oppression of women, tracking how the feminist movement has pushed for these victories, which have in turn fueled the movement towards overcoming legal obstacles and setbacks that women have faced.”
Mboya A. (2020) Empowering Women Through the Law. In: Leal Filho W., Azul A.M., Brandli L., Lange Salvia A., Wall T. (eds) Gender Equality. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham.
Read the rest here: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70060-1_146-1