Organisation Internationale de Droit du Développement

Elimination of discriminatory laws: Accelerating action for gender equality

WEBINAR  | 10 March 2022  | 14:00 – 15:30 Rome  | 8:00 – 9:30 New York


Equality in law is crucial to gender equality. Laws can protect, promote and fulfill the human rights of women and girls and signal that discrimination is not acceptable or tolerated. The importance of gender equality in law and in practice has been laid out and reaffirmed through various global commitments – from the Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Our Common Agenda, alongside national constitutions of many countries around the world.

However, while there has been progress, there still remain serious gaps in ensuring legal protection for women and girls. Globally, over 2.5 billion women and girls around the world are affected by discriminatory laws. These legal gaps have dire implications to women’s human rights across many aspects of their lives – marriage and family life, employment, health, education, sexual and reproductive rights, land and natural resources, political participation, among others. Without the protection of the law, women and girls, especially those facing intersectional discrimination, continue to be left behind in accessing and enjoying their human rights, especially in challenging contexts, such as during conflict and fragility, Covid-19 and other pandemics, and climate disasters.

In response to the urgent need to address discriminatory laws, the Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030: A Multistakeholder Strategy for Accelerated Action was adopted to fast track the repeal of discriminatory laws and subsequently address the legal needs of more than 50 million women and girls. The strategy, among others, calls for a comprehensive review of national legislation and the development of a roadmap for the repeal of discriminatory laws and the adoption of gender-responsive ones.

On this note, this event builds on efforts to implement this strategy at the global and national levels. It will highlight the various ways laws discriminate against women and what can be done to bring about laws that are just, fair and responsive to women’s needs and support their rights as well as their capacities to contribute to development.

In particular, the event through the panel discussion will focus on the comprehensive reviews of legislation in three countries – Ethiopia, Philippines and Sierra Leone, illustrating how legal reviews and reforms can be carried out, while addressing these questions:

  • How do we bring about the end of discriminatory laws?
  • What challenges persist in expanding political will and supporting gender-responsive legal reform? 
  • What are promising approaches and practical entry points in achieving gender equality in law and practice?

This event will also provide the occasion for the online launch of the legal assessments conducted in Ethiopia, Philippines and Sierra Leone.




This event is organized by UN Women and IDLO in commemoration of the International Women’s Day


Opening Remarks

  • Ms. Jan Beagle, Director-General, IDLO
  • Ms. Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women

Special Remarks 

  • Ms. Sandra S. Montano, Chairperson, Philippine Commission on Women
  • Comm. Meskerem Geset Techane, Commissioner for Women and Children’s Rights, Human Rights Commission, Ethiopia


  • Ms. Melissa Upreti, Chair, UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls   
  • Dr. Lesley Ann Foster, Executive Director, Masimanyane Women’s Center and Chairperson, Gender-based Violence Committee, South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA)
  • Ms. Antonia Kirkland, Global Lead for Legal Equality and Access to Justice, Equality Now
  • Ms. Elisa Scalise, Executive Director, Resource Equity


  • Dr. Ilaria Bottigliero, Director, Policy, Research and Learning, IDLO

Interactive Dialogue



For questions or to contact IDLO's Gender Team, please send an email to

Photo credit: © ILO/J. Aliling 2015