Human rights

Women's rights and gender

Woman from Mali speaking at an event

Background: Worldwide discrimination of women

The majority of the world’s poorest people and most of the illiterate are women. Each year almost 300,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, 99 per cent of them in developing countries. Violence against women and harmful traditional practices are still widespread. Around the world women carry out by far the largest proportion of work – but on average they earn 17 per cent less than men. In some regions women produce up to 90 per cent of food – in total, however, they still own an infinitesimal proportion of land and global assets. more

International agreements on women's rights

The international community has applied the principle of gender equality since the United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945. It is enshrined in the UN Charter, the 'constitution' of the United Nations. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 also contains the principle that no distinction shall be made 'on account of sex'. The two human rights covenants that were adopted in 1966, which incorporated a ban on discrimination, made gender equality a legally binding principle for signatory states. more

Gender equality – A basic principle of German development policy

'Equal rights, equal duties, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men' is one of the basic principles of German development policy. Gender equality and the implementation of women’s rights are critical factors for a human rights-based, socially equitable and sustainable development of societies. Promoting gender equality is therefore a cross-cutting task and an attribute that touches all areas of German development cooperation. Germany's policy is based on international agreements on women's rights. more

Issues: Implementing women's rights – tapping into potential

Throughout the world women play a key role in implementing change. Gender equality is therefore a precondition of development. Where the social conditions allow, women can develop their great potential – to the benefit of all. more

Further information on women's rights and gender

The following list contains a selection of links to documents and websites with further information on women's rights and gender. more

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