Women's rights: between progress and challenges

Women's rights around the world. We talk about it a lot, especially on March 8, International Women's Day! But what about it? If the fight for equality is a constant struggle and each progress is one more step towards a more just society, the obstacles are never far away. And the global disparities in the realization of these rights are vast. Behind each advance there are still numerous challenges that must reinforce our determination to act and not to let our guard down. Together, we can contribute to building a world where every woman can thrive.

What are the advances in women's rights?

The right to vote

Women have won the right to vote in many countries around the world, expanding their democratic participation. This historic advance allows them to make their voices heard in political processes and to contribute to the shaping of public policies. New Zealand led the way in 1919. In France, we had to wait until 1945. The last country to have validated it is Saudi Arabia in 2015.

Access to education

Access to education for women globally is a cornerstone of social justice and economic progress. Undeniable advances have been made in this field.

Increase in the school enrollment rate 

Over the past few decades, girls' school enrollment has increased dramatically in many countries. Everywhere, efforts have been made to remove financial, cultural, and social barriers that prevent them from accessing education.

Chez LIFE, we work day after day to facilitate access to school for girls and children around the world. In Bangladesh, for example, in November 2022, 100 bicycles were distributed to young girls so that they could go to school. The construction of drinking water wells in the villages also allows them to stop drawing water from miles away, a task that is most of the time dedicated to them. Thanks to them, the school enrollment rate is increasing.

distribution de vélos aux filles par l'ONG LIFE Bangladesh 2022
Bicycle distribution, Bangladesh, 2022

Laws in favor of girls' education

Many countries have adopted laws and policies to promote girls' education and ensure their access to school. These measures have contributed to the reduction of gender disparities in education. However, these laws are sometimes difficult to enforce, due to a lack of financial resources or “pressure” resources.

∙ In 2004, Nigeria passed a law to ensure free and compulsory education for girls up to the secondary level.

∙ Ghana, Argentina, Indonesia and Seychelles have adopted legal measures to ensure that girls have legal access to free and compulsory education up to the age of 10.

Increased awareness 

Awareness of the benefits of girls' education has increased everywhere. It gradually makes it possible to change attitudes and behaviors, encouraging families to invest in the education of their daughters. One can note the efforts of Benin, for example, which has conducted campaigns to inform communities on the importance of the schooling of girls at the secondary level.

Female leadership

Whether in business, politics, science, science, arts, arts, education, or other sectors, women's active participation, influence, and decision-making is increasingly important.

These inspire future generations and show that they can excel in every field in the same way as people. They contribute to the promotion of gender equality, and to the creation of a more equitable and inclusive society for all.

Sexual and reproductive rights 

The progress in women's sexual and reproductive rights allow them to control their own bodies and their own reproduction, thus strengthening their autonomy. Access to quality health services ensures that they can make informed decisions about their health and family life. But these rights are fragile in many countries. It is important that we all be vigilant so as not to go backwards. In France, the Veil law passed in 1975 is symbolic. It legalizes abortion. But, currently, only 58 countries allow unconditional abortion!

Progress in the recognition of gender-based violence

Stronger actions and stronger laws to combat these forms of violence are increasingly being adopted around the world. They work to protect women from domestic violence, sexual harassment, sex trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence. In France, the law on sexual harassment was passed in 1992. In the United States, the “Violence Against Women Act” was passed in 1994. In Spain, the “Ley Orgánica de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género” was created in 2004. In India, the “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act” was passed in 2005. It aims to protect women from domestic violence and to provide them with legal remedies.

Femme éthiopienne distribution alimentaire LIFE
Ethiopia 2019

Inclusion in decision-making spaces

Efforts to promote the inclusion of women in decision-making processes have borne fruit. Indeed, there is an increase in their number in important positions in government bodies, boards of directors and other bodies.

The challenges to be overcome

While progress is undeniable in the fight for women's rights, there are still many battles to be fought, but also strong disparities between countries, and in particular between the North and the South.

Wage disparities

Women continue to face wage disparities, earning on average less than their male counterparts for equivalent work. These differences persist despite progress in the area of gender equality and contribute to limiting women's financial autonomy.

The balance between professional and personal life

Social expectations and economic pressures can make it difficult for women to reconcile work and family responsibilities. In the end, it prevents them from reaching their full potential in all areas of their lives.

Gender stereotypes

They persist in society, limiting career choices and professional development opportunities for many women. Traditional social expectations about their roles and responsibilities continue to weigh on their individual freedom and development.

The fight for legal majority and divorce

In still too many countries, women are not allowed to do certain everyday things without the permission of a male member of the family: husband, brother, father, etc. In Saudi Arabia, they cannot drive, travel, work without the approval of a male guardian. This situation is found in at least 16 countries. Filing for divorce can also be very complicated for a woman: between a total ban, asking for permission from the husband, losing their rights, etc.

Gender-based violence

Violence against women remains rampant, with alarming rates of sexual harassment, domestic violence, and sexual assaults reported around the world. These forms of violence hinder their safety, limit their freedom of movement and their participation in public life. The UN believes that 137 women are killed every day by a member of their family. Environ 200 million girls and women in the world have been subjected to genital mutilation according to UNICEF, etc. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of astounding examples and figures.


Fille devant colis distribution alimentaire ONG LIFE Liban 2019
Lebanon, 2019

Access to health and social services

Women, especially in disadvantaged areas, continue to face barriers in accessing quality health and social services. These inequalities hinder their health and well-being and that of their communities.

The progress made in the pursuit of women's rights is undeniable, but there is still a long way to go to achieve true gender equality. Ongoing challenges require continued and concerted action by society as a whole. By working together, we can create a more just and equitable world for all, where every woman, no matter where she is, can live freely and with dignity.




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