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Main achievements in prohibiting discrimination and violence against women

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2. Main achievements in prohibiting discrimination and violence against women

11. The experts recognize the very significant protection for women’s rights under federal legislation and under the Constitution and greatly appreciate landmark decisions, in particular of the Supreme Court5, which have created benchmarks in prohibiting sex discrimination. They note in particular:

Employment rights

12. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work.

13. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination, including sexual harassment, based on race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin by employers with fifteen or more employees6.

14. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy7, clarified that employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is sex discrimination under Title VII.

15. The Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) provides employees with the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave of twelve workweeks in a 12-month period, including for the birth of a child and to care for the new-born child within one year of birth (see para 15).

16. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (2009)8 and Executive Order 13665 (2014), promoting pay transparency provide more effective procedures for challenging unequal pay.


17. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs.

Same sex marriage

18. The landmark 2015 decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell et Al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et Al. has recognised same-sex marriage as a constitutional right under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Right to health

19. The adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, by expanding access to health care for many uninsured citizens, with the gains biggest for the poor, minorities and low-wage workers, marked significant progress in women’s enjoyment of the right to health. ACA also establishes crucial protections against discriminatory practices by health insurance plans in charges and coverage regarding women’s reproductive health needs, as well as provisions for coverage of provider screening and counselling for domestic violence. (see para 63).

Violence against women

20. The Violence against Women Act of 19949, as last reauthorized in 2013 is a key resource to prevent gender-based violence, including specifically domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. There are also statutory protections at state and local levels. The last reauthorization of the VAW Act created set-aside funding to support Sexual Assault Response Teams and train law enforcement and prosecutors about sexual assault and explicitly bars discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.21. The Working Group also notes positively the adoption of the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape in 2012, pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (2003).

22. The experts welcome the significant legislative and judicial measures in the past decades aimed at eliminating discrimination and violence against women, nonetheless, the Working Group notes significant remaining gaps in many of these legal frameworks and makes recommendations for further measures in order to guarantee gender equality in the workplace, in family status, in the right to health and as regards violence against women.

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