It is widely acknowledged that women are systematically discriminated against in exercising their economic rights, that economic empowerment is essential to the protection of women's human rights, and that lack of economic power and independence increases women's vulnerability to violence. Yet available documentation of violations of women's economic rights is limited.
Women's rights to own property, to enter into legal agreements and to work are severely restricted in many countries. Women face multiple barriers that complicate their struggle to obtain basic necessities, such as health services, education, jobs, housing and land. Gender, ethnicity, color, social status, place of residence, education and type of employment are all factors that determine the status of women. The lack of effective representation in the decisions affecting their social and economic lives remains a major problem. Without access to health services, social power and education, women will remain excluded from the processes through which the extent of their rights are determined.
The Fourth World Conference on Women noted that women's poverty was directly related to absence of economic opportunities, autonomy and resources, including credit, land ownership and inheritance; lack of access to education and support services; and women's minimal participation in the decision-making process. Although poverty affects households as a whole, because of the gender division of labor and responsibilities, women bear a disproportionate burden and have to manage household consumption and production under conditions of increasing scarcity. Extreme poverty involves the denial not of a single right or a given category of rights, but of human rights as a whole.
IHRLG and our local women's rights partners, particularly within the African continent, are attempting to address these complex realities through networking and legislative advocacy and the development of a systematic method of documenting violations of women's economic rights. IHRLG and our local anti-trafficking partners in Asia, Central Europe and South Eastern Europe are also addressing women's economic disempowerment and the resultant increased vulnerability to being trafficked.
Learn more about IHRLG's initiative on Women's Inheritance Rights in Africa
Learn more about IHRLG's Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons
For more information contact WRAP@hrlawgroup.org.