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Human Right Course
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What are human rights?
The history of human rights
What right do we have?
Civil and political rights
Economic, social and cultural rights
Human rights in times of war
The protection of Human Rights
Human rights in everyday life
Human Rights

Did you know

Did you know that right up until 1868 a Norwegian man had a statutory right to use violence against his wife if she did not behave as he wanted?




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.



- It is reckoned that between 7,000 and 9,000 women are raped every year in Norway. In 2000, only 555 women reported cases of rape. Only 25 of the men involved were convicted.

- The first crisis centre for women was opened in England in 1972.

Fact box

- In 1998, women employed by the real estate agent Notar Eiendom in Norway had to wear miniskirts to work - because that is what the men in the company wanted.

- In 2000, a 17 year old girl in Nigeria was sentenced to 180 lashes of the whip because she had
become pregnant after being raped.

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