Gender challenges

Sarika Katoch, 26, (left) and Farzana Ayub, 23, who attended a workshop for young people from Commonwealth Asian countries, which took place in Chandigarh, India, between 11 and 14 August 2008. Graça Machel raises the issue of gender, and challenges us to see that, even though we may talk about the indivisibility of rights, and the right to equality between men and women, there is still a significant gap between this rhetoric and the reality of women’s lives around the world. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is one of the most ratified human rights conventions, yet gross injustice still occurs widely.

The article suggests that, while mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights do need to be strengthened, the long-term sustainability of equal rights lies in positively influencing people’s values and behaviour. It challenges us to see how our own actions in our own families either can promote gender equality or can stop it from becoming a reality.