EWL’s mission is to work together to achieve equality between women and men, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, to ensure respect for women’s human rights and to eradicate violence against women. Hence EWL documents ways in which the achievement of these goals is impeded by any trends and calls for changes that will remove barriers to their achievement. In particular, concerns expressed by EWL members about a perceived stronger influence on governments of religious argumentation with respect to women’s role and gender equality has led to this position paper.
Our task is to continue to name, expose and condemn those practices that violate women’s rights and silence women’s voices wherever they may be. EWL refers to those areas in which cultural and religious practices and in some instances, legal practices, continue systematically to discriminate against women and the girl child either directly or indirectly, excluding them from public and political life, denying them equal rights to economic independence, including in marriage, divorce and inheritance and denying women’s rights to autonomy in matters of sexual and reproductive choice and health. All of these practices should be named for what they are, i.e. violations of women’s human rights and should never be placed within a cultural context that at the end of the day conceals the reality under a cultural mask. In the face of this, the challenge is great but not insurmountable.
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