Gender inequality not only exists in the United States, but is so widespread that it relegates United States far behind many other nations, and behind international human rights standards, according to United Nations human rights experts.
Representatives from Poland, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, who led a United Nations working group on discrimination against women, spent 10 days touring the United States in December to report on the country’s overall treatment of women. They visited Alabama, Oregon and Texas, where they evaluated women’s roles in several key arenas, including healthcare and economic rights.
In a preliminary report prepared at the end of the mission, the delegates firmly stated that “in global context, US women do not take their rightful place as citizens of the world’s leading economy. In the US, women fall behind international standards as regards their public and political representation, their economic and social rights and their health and safety protections.” While all women are affected, minorities, the poor and certain other vulnerable groups are disparately impacted.
The deficiencies were wide-ranging. Some were easily quantified. For instance, despite the country’s record level of women in office (women currently make up just under 25 percent of political seats), this number still puts the United States at only 72 in global rankings. The representatives also pointed to the 21 percent gender wage gap as an impediment to gender equality.
However, the report also focused on the less quantifiable – the “missing” rights. The delegates were “shocked by the lack of mandatory standards for workplace accommodation for pregnant women, post-natal mothers and persons with care responsibilities, which are required in international human rights law.” They found the country’s failure to provide for
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