Women's Rights

Women have always worked, whether in paid jobs or in home or most of the times both.

Their works are generally unrecognized and undervalued. The rights and entitlements claimed for women formed the basis for the women’s rights movement in the 19th Century and feminist movement during the 20th Century.

Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights manifested by the United Nations, nearly 70 years ago, for every human being. The rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery and discrimination, the right to be educated, the right to own property, the right to vote and the right to earn a fair and equal wage.

Women have special status and protection within the United Nations and the various regional human rights systems.According to Action Aid, a highly reputed NGO, in 2016, 89% of women in Brazil, 86% in Thailand, 79% in India have reported harassment and abuse on the streets of their cities. According to UNICEF in 2014, around 1 in 10 (120 million) girls worldwide have faced sexual violence. At least 200 million girls and women living in 30 countries are reported to have undergone female genital mutilation!

There are many International human rights instruments specifically addressing women’s rights. They are:

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

  • Convention on the Nationality of Married Women;

  • Convention on the Political Rights of Women;

  • Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others;

  • Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence(“Istanbul Convention”);

  • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“European Convention on Human Rights”) (Art. 14);

  • European Social Charter (Arts. 4(3) and 8) & European Social Charter (revised) (Arts. 4(3), 8 and 27);

  • Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women;

  • Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women;

  • Inter-American Convention on the Nationality of Women;

  • Inter-American Convention on the Prevention;

  • Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women;

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(Arts. 2, 3 and 26);

  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Arts. 2, 3 and 7(i));

  • United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a country like India, it is very important that women are protected and given constitutional and legal rights to protect their fundamental human rights.

In India some of the Constitutional rights guaranteed to women, especially, are:

  • Art. 15(1) [no discrimination on the grounds of sex];

  • Art. 15(3) [state is empowered to make special provisions for women];

  • Art. 16(2) [no discrimination in employment for women];

  • Art. 39(a) [equal right to an adequate means of livelihood];

  • Art. 39(d) [equal pay];

  • Art. 42[securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief];

  • Art. 51-A(e) [renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women];

  • Art. 243-D(3) [1/3rd of total number of seats in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women].

There are various legislations, which contain several rights and safeguards for women. They are:

  • Protection for women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005;

  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956;

  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986;

  • Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987;

  • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961;

  • Maternity Benefit Act, 1961;

  • Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971;

  • Equal Remuneration Act, 1976;

  • Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939;

  • Family Court Act, 1984;;

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860;

  • Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973;

  • Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872;

  • Hindu Marriage Act, 1955;

  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956;

  • Minimum Wages Act, 1948;

  • National Commission for Women Act, 1990;

  • Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.

The National Commission for Women is situated at New Delhi. State Women’s Commission is situated in most of the states. The principle mandate of the Commission is to protect basic fundamental rights of women.

Despite the huge amount of work being done by various institutions and NGO’s, lot of work still remain to be done to protect the fundamental human rights of Women especially in the field of Domestic Violence, Indecent Representation of Women, Disparity in Education of Female Children, Dowry and Bride Burning, Medical Termination of Pregnancy, Preconception and Prenatal Sex Determination, Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Muslim Women Rights, Child Marriage, Teenage Pregnancy, Under-representation of Women in Political Life, Human Trafficking, Sex Slavery and Parity in Female Succession.



Domestic Violence & Rape

Violence against women is a serious problem in India. Overall, one-third of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence.


Indecent Representation of Women

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 is an Act of Parliament of India which was enacted to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.


Disparity in Education

Educational inequality is the unequal distribution of academic resources, including but is not limited to educational inequality only. It is also attributed to economic disparities that often falls along racial lines and much modern conversation about education.


Dowry & Bride Burning

Dowry and bride burning are unfortunate circumstances for women in India. Every year lot of cases are reported and many cases go unreported due to stigma attached with it. We need to strengthen women empowerment more by making and implementing stringent laws.


Medical Termination of Pregnancy

MTP is Medical Termination of Pregnancy and is also called induced abortion. It is the medical way of getting rid of unwanted pregnancy.


Preconception and Prenatal

Preconception care is the care a woman gets before she becomes pregnant. Prenatal care is the care a woman gets during pregnancy. This is very important for a woman’s physical and psychological health to have healthy future for the nation.


Gender Discrimination

In India, discriminatory attitude towards men and women has existed for generations and affects the lives of both genders. Although the constitution of India has granted men and women equal rights, gender disparity still exists. Gender discrimination violates not only human rights but also fundamental rights. For example, the state of Haryana introduced the so-called Apni Beti, Apna Dhan program in 1994, which translates to "My daughter, My wealth".


Sexual Harrasment at Workplace

Sexual harassment at workplace is an evil which is originated in modern societies. Though developed nations have strong laws in place to deal with sexual harassment at workplace, however in developing nations there is no codified law on sexual harassment so they apply Judge-made Law.


Female Succession

The property of a Hindu female under the HSA has been divided into three categories, viz. property inherited by a female from her father or mother, property inherited from her husband or father-in-law and the third kind, the properties which are not governed by the first two categories.


Muslim Women Rights

Women’s equal rights in Islam begin immediately in the Quran’s creation story. There are dozens of strong, dignified and independent women in early Islamic history that have become role models. “The oppression doesn’t come from Islam, but from laws made, in many cases, by Muslim men”.


Under Representation of Women in Political Life

The women's movement and gender politics in India currently remains divided over the question of affirmative action for women in the Parliament and state legislatures.


Human Trafficking & Sex Slavery

Sex trafficking or slavery is the exploitation of women and children, within national or international borders. Sex trafficking of women and girls are characterized by the exploitation of a human being in exchange for goods or money.

Child Marriage

Child Marriage

Child marriage in India, according to the Indian law, is a marriage either the man or woman is below the prescribed age of marriage.


Teenage Pregnancy

Every year, 7.3 million girls become pregnant before they turn 18. Teenage pregnancy increases when girls are denied the right to make decisions about their sexual health and well-being. In developed countries, teenage pregnancies are associated with social issues, including lower educational levels etc. and in developed countries is usually outside of marriage.

Key Documents

United Nations Charter
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocols No. 11 and No. 14
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
United Nations Millennium Declaration
OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa
Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war of 12 August 1949
The Refugee Convention, 1951
Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Violation of Women Human Rights in India
Women's Rights are Human Rights
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Rules, 1988
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
African Banjul Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
Brussels European Council 29-30 October 2009
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Charter of the United Nations, 1945
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degarding Treatment or Punishment
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of as amended by Protocols no. 11 and 14
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 28.7.1951
Council Directive 2004-83-EC
Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women
International Bill of Human Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 16.12.1966
The Charter Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa Maputo Protocol
Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012
United Nations Millennium Declaration
Convention on the Political Rights of Women, 1952
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict
Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Universal Declaration on Democracy, 1997
Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948
Convention on a Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision- Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
ABM Treaty
ACCOBAMS Agreement
Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels -ACAP_Agreement
Agreement on the Conservation of African Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
Antarctic Treaty WC 1959
ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution
Assistance Convention Vienna 1986
Bamako Convention 1991
Barcelona Convention 1976
Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed
Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movement 1989
Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movement
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction 1975
Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction
Bucharest Convention for the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution 1992
Canberra Convention 1980
Carpathian Convention - PROTOCOL
Carpathian Convention
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Cartagena Convention 1983
Chemical Weapons Convention
CITES Convention 1973
Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa
Convention for Protection & Development of Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region
Convention for the Protection of Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region 1986
Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency
Convention on Biological Diversity 1992
Convention on Cluster Munitions
Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident Vienna 1986
Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas 1958
Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution 1979
Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere
Convention on Nuclear Safety 1994
Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Others Matter
Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992 (HELSINKI CONVENTION)
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat
Convention On the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accident 1992
International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas 1966
International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
International convention for the Regulation of Whaling 1946
International convention on civil liability for oil pollution damage (clc) 1992
International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea London 1996
International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Co-Operation 1990
International Convention Relating to Intervention on the high Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties 1969
Kyoto Protocol 1997
Montreal Protocol 1989
Minamata Convention on Mercury
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 1987
Nairobi Convention 1985
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
OSPAR Convention 1992
Adoption of the Paris Agreement 2015
Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
Regional Convention, Jeddah 1982
Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade Rotterdam 1998
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 2001
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
US- Canada Air Quality Agreement
Vienna Convention On Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage 1963
Waigani Convention 1995
Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural
Agreement Establishing the Common Fund for Commodities
Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation 1994
Constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1945
Constitution of the World Health Organization
Constitution of UNESCO
Convention of the World Meteorological Organization
Convention Establishing a Customs Cooperation Council
Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol
Geneva Convention I
Geneva Convention II
Geneva Convention III
Geneva Convention IV
Geneva Conventions -Protocol I
Hostages Convention
Madrid Agreement
Madrid Protocol
Nagoya Protocol
Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
SAARC Charter
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
WIPO Convention

World Organisations


United Nation


World Trade Organisation


World Health Organisation


World Bank


International Labour Organisation




NGOs in India




HelpAge India


Nanhi Kali


Salaam Baalak


International NGOs


Amazon Watch


Freedom House


Human Right Foundation


Amnesty International


Asia Europe Foundation