Women's Rights and Gender Justice


Discriminations against women in the Euro-Mediterranean region

Personal status laws and penal codes often represent the main sources of discrimination in the MENA region. These legal frameworks are used to discriminate against women in their rights to child custody, marriage, nationality, and inheritance in different ways.

Equality in Law only

All the countries in the region recognise equality between women and men in their constitutions and give equal voting rights to their citizens irrespective of their gender. Having said this, and despite the existence of a few mechanisms to ensure gender equality at political level (such as parity laws establishing quotas on representation), parity has not yet been achieved in terms of women’s political representation regionally.

Regarding sexual and reproductive rights, in most of the MENA region (Tunisia being an exception), abortion is criminalised and allowed only in strict circumstances. Women are often forced to travel to another country (when they financially can) or end up in clandestine abortion networks, which do not offer hygienic conditions and often endanger their health or lives. While in most European countries abortion is legal, access is not always guaranteed because of doctors applying a “conscience clause”. 

Finally, when it comes to economic rights, the factsheets reveal that most countries have signed international conventions and voted anti-discriminatory laws to guarantee equality between men and women in the workplace. However, these are very rarely respected and reality shows that the gender pay gap remains, with women working mainly in part-time positions, low-paid jobs and in specific sectors like the “care sector”, linked to what is considered their “traditional” role as caregivers.