A central place in the German Government’s human rights policy is reserved for the protection of women and the improvement of their human rights situation. Women’s rights policy plays an important role, and not just in the home affairs arena; the German Government also works to bolster women’s rights in its foreign and development policy, both bilaterally and in the context of such international organisations as the European Union and the United Nations, among others.
Women’s human rights and violence against women
Sexual abuse, trafficking in women, domestic violence, forced marriage and genital mutilation are human rights violations which affect women and children almost exclusively. In addition, traditional values, roles and behavioural patterns often lead to women being specifically disadvantaged as regards their economic, cultural and social rights – such as access to food, education or health care.
Women and girls are also particularly subject to the effects of (civil) war, refugee movements resulting from conflict, and sexual violence and rape, which are increasingly being used as a “weapon” of war. Women often suffer multiple discrimination, disadvantaged not merely due to their gender but also because they belong to an ethnic or social minority, or on the grounds of their sexual orientation (multiple violation of human rights). Improving women’s human rights therefore remains a central element of the German Government’s human rights policy, encompassing not only domestic policy as it relates to women but also foreign and development policy.
The German Government supports international agreements and policy frameworks aimed at achieving gender equality and empowering women, both at home and in its foreign and development policy.
This means it is committed to the aims of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Convention absolutely prohibits discrimination in all areas of life. In signing it, states also pledged to implement tangible measures to guarantee legal and actual equality between the sexes.
The German Government’s work on women’s rights accords a central role to the EU guidelines on violence against women, the Comprehensive Approach to the EU Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security, and the indicators which the EU adopted in 2010 to monitor implementation of those resolutions.
Many equal rights projects
As part of its efforts to promote women’s rights, the Federal Foreign Office provides support to a large number of projects aiming specifically at gender equality as well as other human rights projects furthering such objectives as good governance, education and healthcare in various countries and regions.
Public awareness campaigns, conducted in collaboration with local non‑governmental organisations, are at the forefront of this work. These projects include providing women’s rights instruction in Nicaragua and FYR Macedonia, supporting measures to prevent violence against women in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, promoting internally displaced women’s involvement in politics in Colombia, supplying advice on realizing women’s economic and social rights in Morocco and on their access to justice in Cambodia, promoting women’s electoral rights in Côte d’Ivoire, and running business-startup seminars for Kurdish‑Iraqi women.
The German Government was also active in pushing for the adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention now provides a comprehensive legal framework to prevent violence, protect victims and put an end to the impunity of those who cause violence against women and domestic violence.