In many countries, religion, tradition and culture are manipulated to gain and exercise power at the level of family, society and state. The voices of women's rights groups combating such violations face enormous obstacles in reaching national and international decision-making institutions. In Jordan and Turkey, for example, the governments' failure punish crimes against women in the name of family honor (such as acid attacks) continues a culture of impunity for family members. The application of Muslim law in Morocco renders women's rights inferior to men's in the areas of marriage, divorce and inheritance, and cultural norms often prevent women from reporting crimes against them, such as rape and domestic violence. In Nigeria, customary law settles approximately 80% of land disputes at the expense of women's human rights.
Since 1995, IHRLG has supported initiatives by women's rights groups in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to address the reliance on tradition, culture and religion as a basis for obstructing women's human rights. Our has work has focused on assisting women from Afghanistan, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and several West African countries in combating gender discrimination in laws, policies and practices. As of 2001, IHRLG's women's rights work has reached local groups in Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iran, Morocco, Malaysia and Yemen and West African countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Somalia and Togo.
As most NGOs lack the means or opportunities to access up-to-date information on women's human rights (in their own language), hone their advocacy skills or learn from and collaborate with women's groups in other countries, IHRLG's Women's Rights Advocacy team facilitates access to information, builds the advocacy capacity of activists, and facilitates networking between women's rights groups that are facing similar challenges and would otherwise remain isolated. Our efforts include
- Translation and dissemination of information on women's rights;
- Training activists to use the Internet for human rights and legal research, communication and international advocacy;
- Building the capacity of Muslim women's groups to collect and use progressive interpretations of religious text as a tool to promote universal human rights for women;
- Facilitating collective advocacy among existing regional networks of women working for the promotion and protection of women's human rights; and
- Annual IHRLG women's rights delegations to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, comprised of activists from countries where systematic discrimination and violence against women persist. (Read about our international advocacy training program, Advocacy Bridge.)
Click on the following links to learn more about IHRLG's programs in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Morocco, Yemen and our initiative on Women's Inheritance Rights in Africa.
For more information contact WRAP@hrlawgroup.org.