When addressing gender equality and equal rights from a legal perspective, there are a number of basic conventions and principles to take into account. KVINFO’s work is in accordance with The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and is based on the principles of Human Rights as stated by the UN.
In order to obtain change related to legal rights, there are different angles or levels to operate from. KVINFO’s program work within the focus area ‘Access to justice’ operates from two main principles:
The legal framework itself
This point addresses the ‘law material’ – with a focus on ensuring that the proper legal rights are actually enshrined within the law, and that existing codes do not discriminate or fall short in protecting women’s rights.
The Personal Status Codes remain the most critical area of law for women’s rights. In the majority of MENA countries, the personal status codes and family laws are a source of discrimination against women in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Penal Codes do not adequately address violence against women, and only few countries have provisions on domestic violence or sexual harassment. Marital rape is not criminalized in any MENA countries.
The access to justice
This point addresses the fact that although a legislation is adopted, there is no guarantee that citizens will be able to benefit from it. Reasons that legislation is not always implemented are numerous and varies greatly. Part of the explanation can be lack of qualifications and skills in the judiciary, another can be lack of knowledge among citizens about the rights that are granted and how exactly to claim them.
KVINFO’s activities under Access to Justice take place in Egypt, Morocco and Yemen.