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These laws have made the world a better place for women


Part Two of a two-part series on looking at gender equality before this year’s G7 summit. Part One looks at the sexist laws that have no place in the world.

There’s still plenty of shocking, sexist, and discriminatory laws around the world. These laws restrict women’s rights to work, live, and be safe. From legalised rape to domestic violence, child marriage to child labour, discriminatory laws punish millions of women and girls worldwide, every day.

While it’s important to highlight the horror, we must also celebrate the successes.

In many countries, great strides are being made to reverse these antiquated, sexist laws, and put in place progressive new ones. These shifts are often driven by local women’s groups, public activists (like you!), and support from bilateral and international institutions.

With these shifts in mind, we call on the G7 leaders to learn lessons from these victories and encourage all countries to take a stand in achieving gender equality by introducing progressive new laws. Because none of us are equal until all of us are equal.

If the G7 is looking for tips on how to change the law to better secure gender equality, here are just a few examples from the past ten years that they can learn from:

Legal rights – six countries give women equal legal rights as men – Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden. A decade ago, none of these countries did so!
Combatting gender-based violence – In Burundi, the Comoros, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Zambia, laws were finally introduced on workplace sexual harassment AND domestic violence.
Getting equally paid – 13 countries—Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, the Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Mauritius, Montenegro, Serbia, South Africa, Vietnam and Zambia—introduced laws mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value.
Right to work – 22 countries removed restrictions limiting women’s rights to work, reducing the likelihood that women are kept out of employment.
Having children – 16 countries increased paid maternity leave, and 33 countries introduced paid paternity leave.
Starting a business – the Democratic Republic of Congo introduced a new law which allows women to register businesses, open bank accounts, and sign contracts in the same way as men.
Access to credit – The Democratic Republic of Congo also prohibited gender discrimination in access to credit, as did 23 other countries.
Living rights – Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Togo all changed their laws to allow women to choose where to live in the same way as men.

It may seem crazy that these laws were ever in place, or that we’re celebrating these victories, but it’s the reality that millions of women face each day. At the G7 Summit in August, we have a chance to do something about this. Will you stand in solidarity with these women and ensure this year’s G7 delivers real progress, not empty promises, in the battle for gender equality?

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