Gender equality is about equal rights, opportunities and access to resources and power for both women and men. Women's rights are human rights according to the UN's Convention Against All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and a precondition for gender equality and poverty reduction. About 1.3 billion people live in absolute poverty to day of which 70 percent are women.
Promoting women's rights and gender equality are necessary to reach all the eight UN Millennium Goals, not only Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women. Various forms of discrimination of women are obstacles to their access to economic resources, political participation and the right to a life without violence. We observe a feminization of poverty.
Women are underrepresented in the world's Parliaments (less than 20 percent) and every third woman will experience violence because she is a woman. Sexualized violence is used as a weapon of war in conflicts. Perpetrators are facing impunity.. Women have least access to justice while they need it at most.
Despite progress in legislation on women's rights, there are many challenges related to attitudes, traditions and religious practices that hinder women from equal access to legal justice as men. According to the last stocktaking report from UN on the status of women worldwide, there are two areas of concern where legislation is not sufficiently protecting women: One is on the private sphere related to the right to a life without violence and control over own reproductive health, and the second is on women's economic rights, the right to work, income, inheritance, land.
Our global programmes
Norwegian Church Aid is working with local partners in many countries to help all people achieve their human rights – whether they are women or men. To contribute to that, we promote women's access to their rights and to equal participation.
We have two global programmes within this field:
Our advocacy work
Norwegian Church Aid lobbies locally, nationally and globally duty bearers and institutions, advocating for them to take decisions that promote and enable women to achieve their equal rights.
Among other things, we are working on:
Changing discriminating attitudes and traditions against women
Discrimination and patriarchal traditions exclude women from power and authority in many arenas: the family, local communities, faith-based instittions and political institutions. Women have the right to participate in decision making that affect themselves, and their knowledge, experience and resources are crucial to sustainable development.
Norwegian Church Aid seeks to change attitudes and structures that perpetuate discrimination against women. We do this by challenging faith-based institutions and religious leaders and other men through promoting positive models of masculinities and by contributing to alternative interpretation of scriptures.
Promoting girls' and women's rights in national and traditional legislation
By using a Rights-Based Approach to programming, focus on girls' and women's access to knowledge about their rights is important. As right holders they are encouraged to claim their rights, and advocacy for better legislation and implementation of these rights. Traditional and religious norms and attitudes might challenge these rights and legislation. Although most states have ratified and committed to the human rights conventions, like the UN Women's Convention (CEDAW) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), they are not implemented sufficiently. National legislation is not giving girls and women sufficient protection. Laws might not be implemented as they might be in conflict with traditional and religious norms and rules.
Norwegian Church Aid will promote and support knowledge about the rights of women and girls, encourage their claims on these rights, to improve legislation critical to these rights and advocate towards traditional and religious actors.
Promoting women's economic empowerment
Poverty reduction implies increased access to economic resources to women. Programs to promote economic justice and climate adaptation and mitigation must ensure that women also have equal access to and control over resources as men. Women play an important role as food producers and have crucial knowledge about strategies for climate adaptation and sustainable energy which is needed for sustainable communities.
Norwegian Church Aid will ensure that women and men equally will benefit from economic justice and climate justice.