Progress - Equality Now

Beijing Platform for Action: Progress

Since 2000, there has been great progress around the world to remove legal discrimination against women. More than half of the countries highlighted in our previous four reports have repealed in full, or completely or partially amended the discriminatory laws highlighted in our work. Below is a look at just some of the improvements we have seen. 

What progress has been made on marital status? 

  • Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo: Wife obedience is no longer mandated.
  • Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Romania, Turkey: The minimum age of marriage for males and females is now the same. 
  • Democratic Republic of Congo: The husband no longer has the right to manage his wife property and the wife can appear in civil court without the husband's authorization. 
  • Guinea: The husband no longer has the right to determine place of residence, or to object to the separate profession of his wife. 
  • Nicaragua, Republic of Korea, Turkey: Men are no longer designated as head of the family. 
  • Mexico: Women are no longer prohibited from marrying for a specified time after divorce or widowhood. 

What progress has been made on personal status?

  • Bangladesh, Kenya: Women can now pass citizenship to their children on the same basis as men.
  • Iraq: Women can now obtain a passport without having to get approval from a male guardian or a husband.
  • Kenya, Monaco, Venezuela: Women can now pass their nationality to their foreign spouse on the same basis as men. 
  • Kuwait: Women now have the right to vote.
  • Pakistan: Discriminatory evidentiary standards applied to proving rape under the Zina Ordinance have been removed. 
  • Saudi Arabia: Women now have the right to drive but as of October 2019, women's rights activists who fought for this right were still imprisoned and women can still be arrested for being "absent" from the home (taghayoubi). 
  • United States of America: Unmarried American fathers and mothers will have the same residency requirements in order to pass on citizenship to their children born abroad. 

What progress has been made on economic status?

  • Australia, Switzerland, United Kingdom: Women are now allowed to apply for all jobs in the army.
  • Bahamas: Women now have equal inheritance rights to men. 
  • Bolivia, France: Women are no longer prohibited from working at night. 
  • Latvia: Women are no longer prohibited from working overtime and traveling for work during pregnancy and one year after childbirth. 
  • Lesotho: Property can now be registered in the name of women married in community property. 
  • Nepal: Certain restrictions on women's property rights have now been lifted. 
  • eSwatini (formerly Swaziland): A woman married in community of property can now register property in her own name. 
  • Poland: Women are no longer restricted from passing their surname to their children. 

What progress has been made on violence?

  • Argentina: A sexual abuser is no longer exempt from punishment by agreeing to a settlement with the victim. 
  • Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Palestine, Peru, Uruguay: A rapist can no longer avoid punishment by marrying the victim. 
  • India*, Malaysia**, Papua New Guinea, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Tonga: Marital rape is now a crime.
  • Haiti, Jordan, Morocco: There is no longer an exemption from penalty for men who murder their wives and/or female relatives in certain circumstances. 
  • Malta: A perpetrator is no longer exempt from punishment by marrying the victim that he has abducted. 


* Although India’s domestic violence law of 2006 gives women the option to bring a civil case for marital rape, India continues to exempt marital rape from its criminal law.

** Malaysia added a new provision in 2007 to the Penal Code which criminalizes a husband who "causes hurt or fear of death or hurt to his wife" in order to have sex with her, which is a positive step toward addressing marital rape. However, it did not delete the exception for "sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife" in the provision on rape and does not criminalize the act of rape itself committed by a man against his wife. This does not afford women full protection against marital rape.