Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities

Action program 2014–2016


Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities
Droits Egaux – Responsabilités Egales 

adopted at the XXXVI IAW Congress, London, UK,  September 2013

Women’s rights are human rights.
Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.  



Every girl, every woman counts.
They must be safe, have a voice in decisions and a choice over their lives.

They must be safe in the home:
No violence, no belittling, no denial of food or medical care, no prejudice or harmful traditions like early marriage, FGM, breast ironing, no excessive housework that keeps them out of school.

They must be safe in school:
Proper sanitation, no bullying, no sexual threats from teachers or students but empowerment and self-esteem

They must be safe in their communities:
No prejudice (handicapped, widows, witches), unequal access, control and ownership of land because of laws and customary practices.
No violence, abduction or trafficking
In conflict and post-conflict situations or in case of disasters they must be safe from violence, danger of life and belongings, and be directly involved in solutions and resolution of conflict

Therefore government (including local government) should

  • Provide infrastructure (civil registration of vital statistics, starting with birth registration, schools, water, sanitation, health care, roads),
  • Decent work and equal pay
  • Fight corruption and practice good governance;
  • Fight tax avoidance in particular of very rich people and (multinational) companies;
  • Make and implement an action plan to eliminate violence against women and girls I  cooperation with women’s organizations,
  • Do away with impunity, with violence from police or military, and support victims of trafficking who return to their home country.
  • Work to eliminate the root causes of gender inequality, namely the unequal power relations between women and men;
  •  Secure a minimum of provisions to avoid extreme poverty e.g .old age pensions, child benefits payable to the mother, benefits for those with disabilities, in short a social protection floor, i.e. a minimum standard below which people should not be expected to live in dignity.

Women and girls must have a voice in the home:
In the distribution of tasks, of food and of income. Women must have a voice in when to have sex, if and when to have children and how many. They must be able to make decisions about the education of their children, about where to live and about having paid work.

They have the right to say no!

They must have a voice in the community:
Participate in associations, cooperatives, be on the council and in the media, claim their rights, fight prejudice, campaign to break the silence about violence, be equally a part of discussions, consultations and bodies to resolve conflict or deal with disasters.

Government should therefore

  • mainstream gender equality in all decisions and decision-making bodies (50/50)
  • Provide equal access to education at all levels (primary, secondary, trade and tertiary), including comprehensive unbiased sexuality education,
  • Have an open system of government in which women are able to participate equally as members, legislators, in the police and the legal system, good governance
  • Develop sustainable societies.
  • Plan for disaster relief

Women and girls must have a choice:

In the home they must have a choice in
whom to marry and when, in matters of divorce, having and spacing of children, in where to live, in getting an education, having a job, joining a labour union, joining a political party….

In the community
there should be no discrimination, women should be able to vote and participate.
Local government should fight stereotypes and train civil servants to that effect.
Locally there should be schools, hospitals, sanitation, childcare, drinking water, energy.

Government should  

  • Provide accessible basic services: education, health care, a minimum income for elderly and children,  health clinics esp. in rural areas
  • Work to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and gender inequality in the global economic system that makes the feminization of poverty worse;
  • collect sex disaggregated data on health, education, income…..
  • Provide legislation to open political parties to women in equal numbers;
  • Inform women and girls about human rights including freedom of religion emphasizing CEDAW, the Optional Protocol and the right for women to produce an alternative report,
  • Remove reservations to CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, if any, and implement both Conventions;
  • Should implement Regional Documents on Women’s Human Rights that they are a party to.
  • Protect human rights defenders
  • Protect women from the effects and harmful practices of fundamentalism/   extremism in all religions

The International Alliance of Women – as an international organization- is committed to these goals and asks its members to further these goals in their countries and in their dealings with government at all levels. 

Lyda Verstegen, September 2013
Adopted at the 36th Congress, London 2013