Women’s rights

There are various international mechanisms and conventions protecting women’s rights. The 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits all forms of discrimination based on characteristics such as sex, gender, race, color, language, religion, origin, etc. Although the category of ‘gender’ was the first to prohibit any form of discrimination, women and girls are still deprived of the opportunity to fully exercise their rights almost everywhere in the world, often solely on the basis of their gender.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international legal instrument that requires states to eliminate discrimination against women and girls in all spheres while advocating for their equal rights. The Convention provides the basis for achieving equality between women and men by ensuring women’s equal access and equal opportunities in political and public life – including the right to vote and be elected, as well as in the domains of education, health, and employment.

In the EU and Bulgaria, there are various regulations and policies concerning gender equality. Despite considerable achievements, many women and girls around the world still face discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

What is the situation with women’s rights in the dynamically changing modern world?

Gender inequality is at the root of many problems that disproportionately affect women and girls, such as gender-based violence, lower pay, lack of equal access to education, inefficient health services,  and negative impacts of climate change and digitalisation. Therefore, women’s rights are identified as a separate group of rights from the general context of human rights, requiring appropriate measures and effective protection, in accordance with needs and taking into account multiple forms of discrimination.

Discrimination against women and girls based on gender remains a significant obstacle for women in business, whether as entrepreneurs, business leaders, or in their career development. Women engaged in global supply chains are exposed to various risks – workplace segregation, dangerous working conditions, lack of maternity leave, minimum wage, extended working hours, inability to associate, lack of professional development and education, sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Moreover, women are often excluded from the planning and consultation process where businesses develop their activities, leading to adverse consequences in their lives.

Как въздейства бизнесът върху правата на жените?

How does business affect women’s rights?

Women and girls experience the adverse impacts of business activities differently and often disproportionately. They also face additional barriers in seeking access to effective remedies. Due to the intersectional and multiple forms of discrimination, different groups of women and girls may be affected differently by business activities in view of their age, skin colour, caste, class, ethnicity, religion, language, literacy, access to economic resources, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, rural residence and migration, indigenous or minority status.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from a Gender Perspective can be a useful tool for the state and businesses that would like to understand the specific risks to women’s rights, how best to minimise human rights risks and what forms of protection and compensation is available to meet their specific needs. The document was created in 2019 by the Working Group of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to the need for a more comprehensive and gender-based response to the needs of women, girls and non-binary people.

There is a growing awareness of the need to address women’s equal access to business, leadership and entrepreneurship and the need to mainstream gender equality into the corporate responsibility and impact assessment of the way we do business today. As a result, there are a number of positive examples of change in the public and private sectors.

Applying the Guiding Principles with an equality focus provides an equity risk assessment perspective and recogniсes the different vulnerabilities that women, girls and non-binary people are exposed to. As the Guiding Principles enjoy wide acceptance by governments and companies around the world, as a normative framework they should be widely implemented and include women not only as victims of rights violations but as decision-makers and agents of change.

равния достъп на жените до бизнеса