Webinar: Accelerating Action toward Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030
On September 14, 2023, the Webinar “Accelerating Action toward Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030”, took place via Zoom, moderated by Ani Zonnevald, founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values.
The first question presented for the panelists was: Why is the issue of discriminatory laws Important? Why is it an urgent issue that must be fast-tracked?
Sarah E. Hendricks, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, highlighted the importance of reshaping the legal frameworks and regulations, which move us closer to the promise of equality by fundamentally unleashing women's full potential. Moreover, she outlined the six thematic areas of the UN's strategy to combat gender inequality, and the UN's direct support of this goal by listing a few examples of recent accomplishments, such reforms in Sierra Leone, Georgia, and Uganda, amongst many others. Finally, she talked about the UN Women's multi-stakeholder strategy, which aims to address the legal needs of over 50 million women and girls, across 100 countries.
Jan Beagle, Director General of the International Development Law Organization, emphasized the importance of laws in achieving gender equality. Beagle reemphasized Idella's commitment, as a global organization, to promoting the rule of law and eliminating discriminatory laws through various programs, research, and advocacy across the globe. Furthermore, she emphasized five primary points: comprehensive legal assessments, collaborations with justice institutions, women's participation in the justice sectors, support for civil society, investment in women-centric justice areas, and partnerships to expedite the enforcement of gender-responsive laws.
On the other hand, the Ibero-American General Secretariat, Lorena Larios, started by addressing the question: Why is the issue of discriminatory laws important?
Larios focused her answer on the limitations these laws impose on women's economic empowerment, stating that these laws limit women's access to opportunities, perpetuate gender inequality, and deny them their fundamental human rights. Moreover, she discussed a platform that analyzes 213 laws across 22 American countries, focusing on gender equality in areas like equal pay, maternity leave, and domestic work. Larios expressed confidence in advocating for legal reforms in collaboration with UN Women.
Additionally, Judge Shirdan-Harris, from the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), shared her thoughts on the importance of discriminatory laws, shedding light on seemingly neutral laws with discriminatory consequences, such as child custody laws, with a "best interest of the child" principle, and on-side childcare regulations. To address this issue, IAWJ conducts worldwide training programs for leaders and educates them on various laws, how they should be applied, and when they are discriminatory.
Next, Zonnevald introduced the following segment of the webinar, about galvanizing leadership and introduced the speakers.
The question presented to the panelists was: How have your organizations been galvanizing leadership at the country level, and what has been the impact?
The first speaker was Camina Diallo, the program specialist of the gender mainstreaming organization International de la Francophonie. She highlighted gender equality as essential for lasting peace and tackling current challenges such as climate change. Furthermore, she discussed the OIF’s digital French language repository for equality resources and good practices, which illustrates the power of technology in promoting gender equality.
Following Diallo was Kareen Jabre, director of Programs Inter-Parliamentary Union, emphasized the IPU ‘s mission to ensure women’s full participation in politics and decision-making. Jabre outlined the IPU's efforts to achieve gender parity in parliaments and highlighted the importance of connecting national parliaments with international processes, to enhance gender equality efforts on a global scale.
Catherine Harrington, manager of the global campaign for equal nationality rights, talked about the organization's goal to end gender disinclination in nationality laws, which tend to undermine women's equal citizenship and family rights. Harrington stated that some countries still deny women equal nationality rights today, leading to human rights violations. Finally, she explained that while positive progress is being made, with various countries amending their laws, leadership by politicians is required, as they can demand that nationality rights everywhere uphold women's equal citizenship.
Alison Horowsky, Co. Executive Director of the Women's Learning Partnership, served as a co-moderator for the event and introduced the speakers of the next segment.
The question presented for the panelists was: How do you execute this role, and what have been some of the achievements?
Hisham Hamin, the global campaign manager for equality and family law. Hamin brought up different examples to answer the question presented. First, she covered her role as a global campaign manager for family equality and then her role as a national activist in Sri Lanka. She empathized with the importance of grassroots activism and the global campaign's goal of archiving family law reform for gender equality. Despite resistance from conservative groups, Hamin reported the progress made in Sir Lanka in pushing for legal amendments.
Horowsky introduced the following segment of the webinar on the power of harnessing data, and introduced the last speaker, Julia Braun Miller.
The question presented to her was: How has the women's business and the Law Report contributed to leveling the law for women and girls worldwide?
Julian Braun Miller, senior private Sector development specialist at the World Bank Group, discussed how the law's impact on women's rights is crucial for their economic, social, and political inclusion. Moreover, she discussed how, while progress has been made, the reform pace has slowed, and it could take 50 years or more to achieve gender equality.
Finally, Zonnevald moved on to the Q&A portion of the webinar. Some of the main questions raised during the meeting were about Equal rights in the United States, joining global campaigns, resources needed for large legal reforms, and the intersection of monetary and fiscal policies with legal reforms. The panelists emphasized the importance of political awareness, education, partnership, mobilization, and advocacy in enacting legal reforms for gender equality.