Using the law - Equality Now

Using the law

A country’s laws set the tone for how it treats its people, and how its people treat each other. When women and girls have fewer rights than men and boys, violence and discrimination are legitimised and ignored.



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.

By advocating for stronger national laws that follow regional and international standards, we continue to create a fairer world for women and girls.


International human rights law is the set of rules and minimum standards that governs relations between nations, and sets standards for how a State treats its people. It guarantees equal rights, protections and access to justice for women and girls.

Regional laws often match international laws, and are sometimes tailored to specific issues in that region. Three geographic areas have well established human rights laws - Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Equality Now uses regional and international human rights law to hold governments accountable for their promises and to bring local issues to the attention of human rights bodies.

When a country is not living up to its duty to protect the rights of women and girls, Equality Now:

  • Submits a complaint to the governing committee
  • Puts pressure on governments directly to fix their violations of human rights standards
  • Use the rights outlined in international and regional treaties as the basis of our argument when working with partners to bring cases to court
  • Makes a submission to the treaty body or committee highlighting where governments are failing to uphold international human rights standards


Sometimes, we work with partners to use strategic litigation to promote equality and set legal precedents.

By helping partners to take to court individual cases that are significant to a larger cause, we help to change laws and hold governments accountable for ending inequality - creating a happier, better, safer future for everyone. 

Explore how we’ve used the law to protect and promote the rights of women and girls

International and regional human rights laws