Throughout history women have been subjected to discrimination
and have not had the same rights as men. Women won the right
to vote later than men, and have not had the same access to
education, work, income and property.
The UN Charter established that women have the same rights
as men. This was also emphasised in the Universal Declaration
of 1948. In 1946 the UN founded a special UN Commission on
the Status of Women, which was tasked to monitor and promote
women's rights. One of its main goals has been to shed light
on those areas where women are not treated equally to men.
The UN Convention on the Political Rights of Women was adopted
in 1952 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women was adopted in 1979 (the Convention
on Discrimination against Women). The convention is the most
important tool that exists for improving the position of women
in all parts of the world. The convention says that:
"State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to
modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men
and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices
and customary and all other practices which are based on the
idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the
sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women."
So far 174 states, or more than 90% of the UN's member states,
have ratified the Convention on Discrimination against Women.
The human rights of girls and women have never been better
protected than they are today, and we can also see that the
situation of girls and women in Norway and internationally
has improved in many areas in the last few years. More girls
are starting and completing school, have paid work, the right
to vote and participate in political life now than ever before.
Equally there remain many challenges. We still see girls
and women being treated differently to men. They receive lower
pay, get less education and cannot participate in commerce
on equal terms with men. There are also great differences
between countries. In poor countries in particular, many girls
and women live hard, difficult lives. They can be excluded
from school, education, work and political life, and be discriminated
against with respect to marriage and family life. Forced marriage,
female circumcision and not having the same opportunity as
men to get a divorce are examples of injustices that occur
in many countries today, including Norway.