Though there is still much work to be done to end violence and discrimination against women and girls, Equality Now is proud to share our key achievements and milestones on the path to gender equality.
Equality Now issued an action on UNICEF’s failure to fund efforts to end FGM, when UNICEF was spending just $100,000/year to combat a practice affecting more than 100 million girls and women. UNICEF and other international organizations stepped up their efforts and currently UNICEF/ UNFPA budgets nearly $27 million USD to end FGM.
In 1993 Equality Now issued an action calling on the UN to take action to stop the rape and killing of Bosnian women, including a “Wanted” poster of Radovan Karadzic years before there was even a thought of an international criminal tribunal. Karadzic was eventually arrested in 2008 and in 2016 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia affirmed rape as a crime against humanity in his conviction, an important step towards expanding the concept of rape as a war crime.
Equality Now issued an action on sex tourism, calling for the shutdown of NY-based Big Apple Oriental Tours. Following an unprecedented civil case, the operators of the company were indicted by a grand jury for promotion of prostitution in 2004. This represented the first prosecution of a sex tour operator under the New York State “promoting prostitution” statute and led to the statute’s amendment to include operating sex tours as a form of promoting prostitution.
Equality Now campaigned for the release from US detention of 17 year old Fauziya Kasinga of Togo who was imprisoned for 16 months while seeking political asylum based on her fear of being forced into a polygamous marriage and genitally-mutilated. As a result of our advocacy, Fauziya was released from detention and subsequently granted asylum in a precedent-setting case that recognized FGM as persecution under refugee law.
Equality Now Nairobi office spearheaded the formation of a continent-wide coalition to push for the adoption and ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. In 2005, the Protocol came into force, today, 36 African countries have ratified it, largely due to the efforts of the SOAWR Coalition, of which Equality Now serves as the Secretariat.
In response to an Equality Now campaign launched in March 2004, Hawaii passed the first law in the US explicitly making sex tourism a crime.
Equality Now took on the case of 15 year old Pakistani girl who was raped by her father. While Pakistan does not have a specific law against incest, we were successful in getting the highest penalty for the perpetrator in 2011 and are using the case to advocate for a law against incest.
Equality Now took on the case of an 11 year old Maasai girl who had bled to death due to FGM in Kenya. While Kenya had an anti-FGM law, it was not implemented in the Maasai region. After significant pressure was put on the police to arrest the perpetrators, in 2010, the court finally sentenced both the father and circumciser to 10 years in prison, sending an important message that will serve as a deterrent.
Equality Now issued an action on FGM in Liberia highlighting the case of Ruth Berry Peal who had been forcibly mutilated by women belonging to a secret society. The case was won in 2011. In 2018, former leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed an executive order before stepping down banning FGM for one year.
In a precedent-setting decision, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights officially informed us that it had ruled in our favor in the case of “Makeda,” who was abducted, raped and forced into marriage in Ethiopia at age 13. This case, which started in 2002, was one of our first and longest-running campaigns under our Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund.