The law expresses how governments value and treat their citizens. It reflects your rights as a citizen and is a primary tool for holding your government accountable to protecting those rights. As a human rights organization, Equality Now uses international human rights law to hold governments accountable to their promises and to bring local issues to the attention of human rights bodies.
Why we use international law
International law is the set of rules and minimum standards that governs relations between nations, and sets standards for how a State treats the people that it governs. It guarantees equal rights and protections to women and girls, including:
- Gender-equal laws and equal access to justice for everyone
- Legal frameworks - a broad system of laws, rules and policies - that protect everyone equally
- Proper implementation of laws to ensure that what is written is put into practice
There are different levels of laws that help shape policies and inform social norms:
- International: Setting the standard for regions and nations, international law is typically more progressive than national law on women’s rights, e.g. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
- Regional: Three geographic areas have well established human rights laws - Africa, Europe and the Americas. Regional laws often match international laws, and sometimes, are tailored to specific issues in that region, e.g. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
- National: Each country's government sets laws that apply to individuals within its borders. Since these national laws have the most direct effect on individuals, it is critical that they meet international standards, e.g. Kenya's Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act.