The Global Women’s Leadership Project (GWLP), developed under the auspices of Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has created a clearing house of information on laws that govern women’s status in the family, as the first phase of the UN Women’s Family Law database.
This is the first mapping of its kind that goes beyond the boundaries of traditional family law to examine the entire legal system of a country to identify the law’s subtle and powerful impact on a woman’s status in her family. Provisions that govern and control a woman’s relationship to her family inform her political, economic and social status. These unequal provisions are found in the laws governing property, inheritance, custody, guardianship, marriage, divorce, residence, citizenship, domicile, age of marriage, guardianship, female genital mutilation (FGM), “husband obedience “ and sex-selective laws, among others. In many countries around the world, family law is a locus of gender discrimination and magnifies the unequal status of women in the public sphere and limit their opportunity to participate in public life, whether political, economic or social.
The GWLP is one of the first efforts to map the panoramic sweep of laws that regulate a woman’s role in the family and society. The first phase of the database covers the 54 African countries; the 19 civil law countries in Latin America* and 32 states of Mexico; the 51 independent states of Europe; Israel; India; Pakistan; and Lebanon. The research on the Middle East is ongoing.