People's Stories Women's Rights

Equal pay for work of equal value
by ILO, ITUC, UN Women
Sep. 2023
International Equal Pay Day, celebrated on 18 September, represents the longstanding efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. It further builds on the United Nations' commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls.
Across all regions, women are paid less than men, with the gender pay gap estimated at around 20 per cent globally. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls continue to be held back owing to the persistence of historical and structural unequal power relations between women and men, poverty and inequalities and disadvantages in access to resources and opportunities that limit women’s and girls’ capabilities.
Progress on narrowing that gap has been slow. While equal pay for men and women has been widely endorsed, applying it in practice has been difficult.
In order to ensure that no one is left behind, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address the need to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Furthermore, the SDGs promote decent work and economic growth by seeking full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Mainstreaming of a gender perspective is crucial in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Achieving equal pay is an important milestone for human rights and gender equality. It takes the effort of the entire world community and more work remains to be done.
The United Nations, including UN Women and the International Labour Organization (ILO) invites Members states and civil society, women’s and community-based organizations and feminist groups, as well as businesses and workers’ and employers’ organizations, to promote equal pay for work of equal value and the economic empowerment of women and girls.

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Iran: New punishments on women and girls who fail to wear the headscarf (hijab)
by UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR)
22 Sep. 2023
Iran – Concerns over Chastity and Hijab Bill. (OHCHR)
We deeply regret the Iranian parliament’s passing of the new Chastity and Hijab Bill which vastly increases jail terms and provides for crushing fines on women and girls who do not obey the compulsory dress code. In that context, the Bill also targets vague notions of promotion of “nudity” or “indecency”. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, reiterates that this draconian bill flagrantly flies in the face of international law, and that it must be shelved.
Under this new, even stricter bill - which is now in its final stage of consideration before the Guardian Council - those flouting the country’s strict Islamic dress code on head coverings and modest clothing risk up to 10 years in jail.
Under the same bill, those found in breach could also be flogged, as well as fined up to 360 million Iranian rials (USD 8,522.73). They also face travel restrictions and deprivation of online access. Under the previous legislation, such an offence carried a jail term of up to two months, or a fine of up to 500,000 Iranian rials (USD 11.84).
The decree - which is fully named the Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab - is both repressive and demeaning. Women and girls must not be treated as second class citizens. The authorities have a duty to respect, protect and fulfil – equally - the rights of all Iranians.
Our Office urges the Iranian authorities to take steps to eliminate this and all other forms of gender-based discrimination, and to repeal all associated laws and practices.
We also call on the authorities to abolish all regulations and procedures whereby specifically women’s behaviour in public is monitored, and to introduce laws and policies that enable women and girls to exercise their human rights, including their right to fully participate in public life, without fear of retribution and discrimination.
Sep. 2023
Iran’s proposed hijab law could amount to “gender apartheid”: UN experts. (OHCHR)
UN experts have expressed grave concern over a new draft law, currently under review in the Iranian parliament, which imposes a series of new punishments on women and girls who fail to wear the headscarf (hijab).
“The draft law could be described as a form of gender apartheid, as authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission,” the experts said.
They stressed that the proposed “Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab” and existing de facto restrictions are inherently discriminatory and may amount to gender persecution.
“The draft law imposes severe punishments on women and girls for non-compliance which may lead to its violent enforcement,” the experts said.
“The bill also violates fundamental rights, including the right to take part in cultural life, the prohibition of gender discrimination, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful protest, and the right to access social, educational, and health services, and freedom of movement.”
The use of culture by the Iranian government as a tool to restrict the rights of women and girls is misplaced, the experts warned. “Culture is formed and evolves with the participation of all,” they said.
By using terms such as “nudity, lack of chastity, lack of hijab, bad dressing and acts against public decency leading to disturbance of peace”, the draft law seeks to authorise public institutions to deny essential services and opportunities to persons who fail to comply with compulsory veiling. Directors and managers of organisations who fail to implement the law could also be punished.
“The weaponisation of “public morals” to deny women and girls their freedom of expression is deeply disempowering and will entrench and expand gender discrimination and marginalisation, with wider negative consequences for children and society as a whole,” the experts said.
The morality police have also been reportedly redeployed in some areas since early July 2023, potentially to enforce compulsory veiling requirements.
“After months of nationwide protests over the death of Jina Mahsa Amini and against restrictive veiling laws, the authorities have introduced a tiered system of punishments targeting women and girls,” the experts said. “The punishments include deprivation of a range of basic freedoms and social and economic rights, which will disproportionately affect economically marginalised women,” they said.
“We urge authorities to reconsider the compulsory hijab legislation in compliance with international human rights law, and to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights for all women and girls in Iran,” the experts said.
Sep. 2023
India – Passing of Women’s Reservation Bill
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk welcomes the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in India, which will reserve one third of seats in national and state parliaments for women.
This landmark bill, passed by both houses of parliament, will also constitutionally entrench women’s representation in parliament, and be a transformative move in upholding the right to participation for women and gender equality in India.
Looking at the example India has set, the High Commissioner calls on parliamentarians around the world to adopt legislative measures – including, where necessary, gender quotas – in order to ensure women’s voices at the centre of their nations’ political discourse, in full parity with others.
The Bill requires ratification by at least 50 percent of the states, and we call for their swift support. The High Commissioner calls on the Government to implement the new system as soon as possible, alongside the existing reservation for ‘scheduled castes’ and ‘scheduled tribes’.
We stress the importance of fostering an enabling environment for the participation of women from all backgrounds in public life – which can have profound, positive implications for society as a whole.
This is an important step towards implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as India’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

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