While women’s rights have advanced over the decades, gender inequalities and other fundamental human rights violations within families persist, according to a flagship study released from the UN’s gender empowerment agency.
UN Women’s new report, released on Tuesday, “Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020: Families in a Changing World”, shows that families, in all their diversity, “can be critical drivers of gender equality, provided decision-makers deliver policies rooted in the reality of how people live today, with women’s rights at their core”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
But it also adds that families can also be breeding grounds of conflict, inequality and, far too often, violence.
Many of the laws that protect against gender-based violence and gender discrimination focus on women in the public sphere.
In fact, home is where discrimination starts for many girls and it continues throughout their womanhood for the rest of their lives, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director for UN Women.
Every single day in 2017, there were 137 women killed by a relative, and bringing those perpetrators to justice is very difficult, said Mlambo-Ngcuka. “These are the people who get away with continued violence without any consequences.”
Laws have made great strides in eliminating discrimination against women outside of the home, said Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We can pass as many laws as we like, but if the home is not safe …”
It is not an accident that family laws have been the slowest to change given that they govern matters like women’s rights to choose who and when to marry, said Mlambo-Ngcuka, adding that the laws also address women’s access to family resources including inheritance.