Women empowerment

February 24, 2013 | By More

In the past three decades, significant gains have been made in building an international justice
architecture which includes accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes. The prosecution
of these crimes serves as an important signaling of a break with the past, an assertion of the
equal rights of women and an international willingness to protect these rights. For the first time
in history, these significant advances have made it possible to prosecute sexual and gender-
based violence in conflict.

For centuries, sexual violence and other atrocities committed against women were considered
inevitable during times of war. Today, legal frameworks and institutions are in place to provide
justice to women affected by conflict and progress is being made.

In all situations of conflict, women are disproportionately affected by sexual and gender-based
violence, forced displacement, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the range of rights
violations. The legacy of this violence endures long after a peace agreement is signed.

However, much remains to be done. The rule of law still often rules out women. Obstacles
that prevent women from accessing legal protection for their rights persist, resulting in
discrimination and inequality that hamper their ability to live free of violence and contribute to
society as full and equal citizens.

In the wake of fighting and destruction, institutions are only rudimentarily functioning,
community networks are weakened, small arms proliferate and violence against women
continues. The devastation of conflict exacerbates both the challenges and the impact of
discrimination. As a result, women have the least access to justice precisely when they need it
most.

Ultimately, the rule of law must empower individuals and further their participation in
reconstructing their societies, so that all people have an opportunity to contribute and share in
the dividends of peace and justice.

Despite heavy investment in legal systems and the ubiquity of customary village courts, “the
rule of law continues to mean very little for the vast majority of women and girls,” according to
“Accessing Justice: Models, Strategies and Best Practices on Women’s Empowerment.”

Category: Women Rights

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