International Women’s Day: “In 155 countries there is legislation that discriminates against women”

International Women’s Day: “In 155 countries there is legislation that discriminates against women”


Women fight against various forms of repression: genital mutilation, domestic violence, patriarchal structures, etc.

What is the current situation of women’s rights in the world?

Not very good. We still have a long way to go if we look at the situation of women and young people in other countries. There is much to be done on the subject of violence. Nearly 50,000 young minors are forced to marry every day around the world. In 155 countries there is legislation that discriminates against women. Of these there is a law in 32 countries that requires the consent of husbands if women apply for a passport. It is about great injustices, like for example, situations that indignant us and against which we have to continue fighting.

In which countries is the situation especially critical?

In Saudi Arabia, of course. There remains the father or the brother or the husband the guardian of the women. This shows that women are second-class people, who are not really up to the men. In addition, there are naturally countries in crisis, where women are exposed to mass sexual violence, as in Iraq or Syria. In many African countries there is still a tradition of genital mutilation, which is a huge sexual and health limitation for women. Sexual self-determination is despised.

Why are women fighting now in the whole world?

For equality, the democratization of their countries. For activists in other countries, the struggle for democracy is as important as the struggle for women’s rights. It is about participation in democratic governments, in peace negotiations, in business decisions or in public life. All this has been forbidden to many women. They have to stay at home and take care of the children.

Are there issues that are present in every country in the world?

The fight against violence and against patriarchal structures are common points in all women’s movements. Also in Germany there are, in part, extreme patriarchal structures in so-called parallel societies. The girls can not participate in the excursions of their school, they have to wear the Islamic veil or they are prepared, from very early, so that they learn to lead a life with husband and children. It is not, of course, what we mean by feminism. We fight with the movements of women in other countries so that all the girls have a life in equal rights, that they can decide for themselves and in freedom.

Women who suffer gender violence are extremely limited and intimidated. We see it in the stories of women who lived in shelters for battered women and the humiliations they suffered for years until they finally defended themselves. There are no differences on this issue among women around the world.

What possibilities do women have to play an active role?

There are very committed women, who recognize the problems in their countries and work on small projects to promote change. Women need help from the so-called developed countries to be able to finance their work and receive a salary. More development aid must flow to empower women and young girls, but also in education so that they can defend themselves against unjust structures and can create support structures. TERRE DES FEMMES, for example, helps in a shelter for young people in Sierra Leone, where girls can go, flee if violence increases in their homes or they flee because they feel threatened by ablation.

An Iranian woman discovers her head in her country.An Iranian woman removes scarf from her head in her country.

What is the legal protection for women who commit?

What is important naturally is that the work receives support in the countries, at least from the legal point of view. For example, in Burkina Faso, where we help with campaigns against ablation, there is a law against genital mutilation, that is, that the Government supports it at least verbally. It does not provide money, but activists can carry out their work safely. On the other hand, we fight against very traditional positions in the population and there are, as in our country too, verbal attacks through social networks, but also by relatives or very patriarchal representatives in the villages, which make the work difficult and the commitment of women. In other countries it is different. In Iran, where many brave women now in public life discover their heads and are arrested for it. There,

Should women, despite these threats, defend their rights?

Women should seize the opportunities. Just when governments become somewhat more liberal and appear more Western, then they have to seize the opportunity. In Saudi Arabia, more and more courageous women organize illegal trips by car. Within a couple of months, they can officially drive.

About author
Profile photo of Noreen Zafar

Noreen Zafar

Noreen is the lead of Rava's Editorial Team and has been associated with the world of journalism since 2012. She is quirky with an awkward sense of humour and an advocate for common sense. Her skill is to use sarcasm to survive on daily basis.

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