The Power of Knowledge: Publishing Legal Information to Support Women’s Rights #WomensEqualityDay

Posted on 03-23-2015 by
Tags: #WomensEqualityDay , Real Law , WomensEqualityDay

Brought to you by the Real Law Editorial Team

In a recent article, The Huffington Post challenged its readers with a simple test. It consisted of viewing three videos on YouTube. “Watch these,” wrote Morra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women Online, “and consider how you feel about the state of women’s rights in our country.”

In the first video, a veteran ESPN anchor uses her national television platform to demand accountability from the National Football League for its response to video footage showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée.

The second video features possible presidential contender Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaking to the American Liberty Association earlier this year. “I don’t think a civilization can long endure that doesn’t respect the rights of the unborn,” Paul says while discussing his views regarding abortion and contraception.

Finally, there’s a segment from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, in which the program’s host skewers those who try to defend or minimize, rather than address, the gender pay gap that continues to exist in America.

“Angry yet?” asked Aarons-Mele.

She could have chosen more or other video clips, or linked readers to countless news stories and bulletins from various advocacy organizations, but her point was made: there is still a long way to go in efforts to establish full equality for women in the United States—and elsewhere.

Indeed, many challenges remain worldwide.

Defying International Accords

A woman’s right to bodily integrity and basic safety, and to receive health care and an education, associate with others, vote, hold public office, work with fair remuneration, own property, enter into legal contracts, and much more, should be unquestioned. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, establishes “the equal rights of men and women” as international law. And in 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It came into force in 1981, with most countries as signatories, and defines discrimination against women as:

Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

States ratifying the Convention are required to enshrine gender equality into their domestic legislation. They are to repeal all discriminatory provisions in their laws and enact new provisions to guard against discrimination against women.

The United States has not ratified the UN Convention; however, it has other provisions that are intended to provide the same protections.

Meanwhile, in many countries, women’s rights are routinely ignored—or worse. They may be brutally punished for expressing their views. They may be subject to violent acts for which they are unjustly deemed the guilty parties. They can be arrested for appearing in public places without a male guardian. These are not just affronts to women—they are affronts to us all.

Defending the Rule of Law

What may be absent when women’s rights are violated is an understanding that such actions defy both local laws and international protocols.

Access to that relevant legal information is a first step in a sometimes difficult journey to justice. That’s why many legal professionals, business executives, policymakers, academics and others are supporting efforts to advance the availability of local statutes, and not just in transition nations and those emerging from conflict.

LexisNexis is a partner in those efforts. Through its Rule of Law Now initiative, it collects, publishes and disseminates local laws, making them accessible to all.

For countless women whose rights are at risk, and those who support their efforts to obtain—often against great odds—what should be rightfully theirs, the power of knowledge can make a profound difference.

Learn more about Federal Government Rule of Law Solutions on the LexisNexis® blog "Justice Matters." Learn more >>