Courtesy of Global Information Network
Courtesy of Global Information Network

It’s a day of action and global solidarity.

SheDecides Day, held annually on March 2, took place this year as feminist activism is on the rise in Zambia and around the world.

This year, wearing red T-shirts, some 90 young women took to the streets in a silent march through Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. This year’s theme was ending sexual violence after a series of alleged police assaults on women last year.

The beginning of March was also the occasion of the release of a new global study by the rights group Equality Now that examined discriminatory legislation in marriage, employment, inheritance rights and sexual violence.

The report coincides with the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Women, when 189 governments pledged to revoke all remaining sexist laws.

Lead author Antonia Kirkland said there were still “hundreds, if not thousands” of discriminatory laws worldwide.

Women only enjoy legal equality in eight countries, the report’s authors found. From parts of the United States where child marriage remains legal to Russia, where women are banned from a host of jobs, almost every country has broken long-standing promises to eradicate discriminatory laws, legal experts said on Monday.

More than 100 countries have laws barring women from specific jobs, 59 have no laws on workplace sexual harassment, and 18 have laws allowing husbands to forbid their wives from working, according to U.N. Women.

Kirkland said the World Bank only judged eight countries to have legal equality. These include Sweden, Iceland and Belgium.

The Equality Now review has a special focus on family law, describing it as “the last hurdle to gender equality”.

“Equality can never be trumped by discriminatory religious, traditional or customary beliefs,” Kirkland said. “Governments committed [to reform] almost a quarter of a century ago so it’s past time for them to really take a hard look and not make any exceptions.”

Equality Now said women could not be equal in society if they were unequal in the family.

“It’s not all bad news. But there’s still a long way to go,” Kirkland said.

Global Information Network creates and distributes news and feature articles on current affairs in Africa to media outlets, scholars, students and activists in the U.S. and Canada.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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