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Words and Deeds: Sex Discrimination in Marital Status Laws

The 4th UN Conference on Women in 1995 was the birth of The Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. Governments around the world pledged to change or remove their existing unfair laws and make legal equality a reality. But that goal is far from being realized.

The state of legal equality in 2022

Only 12 out of 190 economies surveyed by the World Bank in 2022 had achieved legal equality, and a typical economy only grants women 75% of the same rights as men.  

Income inequality and gender inequality are intimately linked, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that inequality kills. Sexist laws and gender stereotypes during the COVID-19 pandemic have perpetuated economic violence against women and exacerbated physical domestic violence.  To stop COVID related inequality from killing women and other vulnerable people and instead put both gender and income equality first, States must get rid of all discriminatory laws. 

Every five years since 1999 Equality Now has highlighted explicitly sex discriminatory laws that need to be reformed in our Words and Deeds report.

Understanding sex discrimination in marital status

As we approach 30 years since The Beijing Platform for Action, this first in a series of briefs explores the impact of sex discrimination in marital status law and what still needs to change.

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