Equality Now

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Equality Now
Equality Now logo.png
Formation1992
PurposeHuman rights
Founders
Jessica Neuwirth
Navanethem Pillay
Feryal Gharahi
Global Executive Director
Yasmeen Hassan

Equality Now is a non-governmental organization founded in 1992 to advocate for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls.[1] Through a combination of regional partnerships, community mobilization and legal advocacy the organization works to encourage governments to adopt, improve and enforce laws that protect and promote women and girls' rights around the world.

Equality Now's four main issue areas are ending sexual violence, ending harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, ending sexual exploitation including the trafficking of women and girls, and ending discrimination in law, including the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the United States.

As of 2019, the organization has offices in New York, United States, Nairobi, Kenya, London, United Kingdom, and Beirut, Lebanon.

Gloria Steinem serves as the chair emeritus of the board.

Background and history[edit]

Equality Now was founded in 1992 in New York by attorneys Jessica Neuwirth of the United States, Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Feryal Gharahi. The founders believed that acts of violence against women were violations of the fundamental human rights guarantees as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that the human rights movement to that point had neglected women's rights, dismissing these violations as “cultural” or “private.” At the time, issues such as domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and reproductive rights were not part of the agendas of established human rights organizations.

Neuwirth, Pillay and Gharahi envisioned an organization that would work closely with grassroots women's organizations in every region of the world, sharing and receiving information on the status of women and violations of their rights, and mobilizing public protest in response. Immediately after the opening of its first office in New York, Equality Now began to identify groups whose work matched its own mission and to consider how to support and reinforce the actions those groups were already taking.

Equality Now helped to build public consciousness on women's rights as human rights and to channel concern into strategic action through the Women's Action Network, an alliance of organizations working to achieve their common goals. Supporters who joined the network received campaign briefings and were urged to take action against human rights violations against women and girls by writing letters of protest directly to government officials, sharing information about these violations within their communities and taking other steps to support the struggle to end violence and discrimination against women.

The founders also hoped to build the organization's presence around the world by setting up offices in different regions. They hoped this would facilitate stronger relationships with the local groups and regional networks best places to know the most effective actions to be taken to end violence and discrimination against women and girls in their communities. Equality Now opened its Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya in 2000. A London office followed in 2004 and the organization opened its fourth office in Beirut in 2019. The organization also has additional outposts in Amman, Jordan, Tbilisi, Georgia, Delhi, India and Washington, DC.

Vision and Mission[edit]

Equality Now's vision is "a world in which women and men have equal rights under the law, and full enjoyment of their human rights".

Their mission is to "achieve legal and systemic change that addresses violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world".

They believe in tackling the most difficult issues, challenging ingrained cultural assumptions and calling out inequality wherever they see it. They believe in the power of the law to create enduring equality for women and girls everywhere.

Areas of work[edit]

Equality Now works to achieve its mission of ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world across four broad areas:

Sexual Violence[edit]

Sexual violence is perpetrated around the world on girls and women of all ages and all backgrounds. Systemic and structural inequality leaves women and girls particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. Many countries have discriminatory laws around sexual violence, including:

Equality Now works to end such violence by advocating for strong laws and practices in line with international standards, including non-discriminatory implementation, as well as legal systems that support survivors and prevent re-victimisation.

Harmful Practices[edit]

Harmful practices encompasses a range of violent acts or instances ritual discrimination that are primarily committed against women and girls and have become culturally normalized. Among the harmful practices Equality Now works to end are:

Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18 and disproportionately affects girls around the world. Every year 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. It is a human rights violation that legitimizes abuse and denies girls' autonomy under the guise of culture, honor, tradition and religion. When young girls are forced to marry, they are essentially subject to state-sanctioned rape and are at risk of increased domestic violence, forced pregnancy and negative health consequences while being denied education and economic opportunity.

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation.[4] At least two million girls are at risk every year. The cutting, which is generally done without anesthetic, may have lifelong health consequences including chronic infection, severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth, and psychological trauma. Some girls die from the cutting, usually as a result of bleeding or infection.

In November 2013, a coalition of Royal Colleges, trade unions and Equality Now launched a report at the House of Commons titled, “Tackling FGM in the UK: Intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting." [5]

In 2019, Equality Now joined with other organisations working to end FGM at the Women Deliver conference to launch the Global Platform to End FGM/C.

Equality Now also sits on the steering committee[6] of the U.S. End FGM/C Network.

Sexual Exploitation[edit]

Sexual exploitation is when someone abuses or attempts to abuse another person’s vulnerability or their own position of power or trust for sexual purposes. They may benefit from the exploitation of the other person through making money, political or social gains, or in other ways. Sexual exploitation occurs on a continuum that includes many forms of coercion and predatory actions including trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

International human rights law protects a person’s right to be free from exploitation. These treaties and standards include:

Discrimination in law[edit]

The fight for civil and political rights, and for economic, social and cultural rights, all relate to the underlying struggle for justice and equality. Equality Now's work in this area addresses the organization's goal of reforming discriminatory laws and practices, and bringing justice and equality to women and girls. Equality Now leads and participates in a range of activities and campaigns that aim to hold governments accountable to the pledges they have made to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls around the world.

Every five years since 1999 Equality Now has released their Words and Deeds report, highlighting a selection of the sex discriminatory laws still in place around the world. Their latest report was released in March 2020.[7]


Equality Now has expressed its outrage at the Donald Trump administration military trans exclusion memo.[8]

Partnerships with The Handmaid's Tale[edit]

In June 2018, it was announced Equality Now would partner with Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale to release the Hope Lives In Every Name Campaign.[9]

At the time of the campaign's release, Handmaid's Tale executive producer Warren Littlefield said, “We are honored to partner with Equality Now to help raise awareness of the vital work they do for women and girls around the world...Their efforts of addressing and helping correct inequality and injustice where it exists for girls and women especially resonates with the message of our show, and we are proud to be part of this campaign.”

One year later, in June 2019, Equality Now unveiled its second partnership with The Handmaid's Tale, The World I Want To Live In, which ran in tandem the series' third season in the U.S. and the U.K.[10]

In August 2019, Equality Now revealed the organization had been selected as the official charity partner for the release campaign of Margaret Atwood's novel The Testaments, the highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.[11] In a statement, Equality Now said they were "honored" to serve as the event's charity partner and went on to say,

"The rollback of women’s rights is as relevant as ever, and we hope that this global movement around The Testaments continues the momentum to fight for gender equality around the world. Although Gilead and The Testaments are fictional, they hold a mirror up to the state of women’s rights today. Gilead depicts a dystopian future in which women are enslaved, married off, raped and denied their most fundamental human rights. The patriarchal and discriminatory practices of Gilead are the practices Equality Now tackles every day." [12]

Through a statement, Atwood said she was "delighted" the events surrounding the novel's release would be working in partnership with the organization.[13]

Additional publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vision & Mission". Equality Now. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  2. ^ "Brisa de Angulo: Battling Bolivia's sexual abuse crisis". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  3. ^ "Why isn't marital rape a criminal offence in India? - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  4. ^ "Female genital mutilation (FGM)". UNICEF DATA. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  5. ^ "Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the UK". RCPCH. 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  6. ^ "END FGM". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  7. ^ Foundation, Thomson Reuters. "Almost every country found to be failing to scrap sexist laws". news.trust.org. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  8. ^ "The United States - Department of Defense Directive-type Memorandum (DTM)-19-004 - Military Service by Transgender Persons and Persons with Gender Dysphoria dated March 12, 2019". Equality Now. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  9. ^ "Equality Now teams up with The Handmaid's Tale". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  10. ^ "The World I Want To Live In". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  11. ^ "Equality Now & The Testaments". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  12. ^ "Equality Now & The Testaments". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  13. ^ "Equality Now & The Testaments". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  14. ^ "Roadblocks To Justice: How The Law Is Failing Survivors Of Sexual Violence In Eurasia". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  15. ^ "The State We're In: Ending Sexism in Nationality Laws". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  16. ^ "The World's Shame". Equality Now. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  17. ^ "Time for a Woman: United Nations it's been 70 years, elect a female Secretary-General". Equality Now. 2015-04-15. Archived from the original on 2015-04-30. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  18. ^ Update: Women's Action 12.4/27.2 Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Library Resource Finder: Table of Contents for: Sisterhood is forever : the women's anth". Vufind.carli.illinois.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-15.

External links[edit]