Gender Equality

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Women’s rights are human rights; they are an essential component of universal human rights. They reflect the fact that women experience the world differently than men and the fact that women and girls often face gender-based discrimination that puts them at increased risk of poverty, violence, ill health, and a poor education. Gender equity—the treatment of people according to their respective needs—is essential in achieving equality for women and girls and in advancing the human rights of all people, particularly women, girls, and sexual and gender minorities. Central to promoting gender equity and ensuring the rights of women and girls is the ability of women and girls to control their own bodies without fear and violence. Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence: one in three women experience physical or sexual violence during the course of their lives; during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this violence increases to even more staggering levels. Gender-based violence (GBV) stems from the failure of governments and societies to recognize the human rights of women. GBV is rooted in a global culture of discrimination that denies women equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women’s bodies for individual gratification or political ends. Violence against women feeds off discrimination and serves to reinforce it. The denial of sexual and reproductive rights for women serves the same end, feeding off of discrimination and reinforcing it. It, too, is rooted in a global culture that denies women equal rights and which legitimizes the appropriation of women’s bodies. And the denial of sexual and reproductive rights, like gender-based violence, stands in the way of gender equity. Women and girls are active and powerful agents of change, and the United States can and should be a strong and consistent leader in the effort to ensure gender equity at home and abroad. 


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