Legislation Watch

Philippines President Signs into Law the Magna Carta of Women

On 14 August 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9710 (the Magna Carta of Women). The Magna Carta of Women seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognising, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Philippino women in all spheres of society.

The introduction of legislation on women’s rights has been under discussion in the Philippines’ Congress (the bicameral parliament) for the past seven years.

The Magna Carta of Women contains extensive provisions which promote women’s rights, including the right to non-discrimination. It is based on a substantive notion of gender equality and aims at real empowerment of women. Section 2 declares that:

Czech Republic Becomes Last EU State to Adopt Anti-discrimination Law

London, 25 June 2009

On 17 June 2009 the Czech Republic adopted anti-discrimination legislation which guarantees the right to equal treatment and bans discrimination in areas including access to employment, business, education, healthcare and social security on the grounds of sex, age, disability, race, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and faith or worldview. The passing of the Anti-Discrimination Act by the Czech Chamber of Deputies was a necessary step to avoid legal proceedings by the European Commission for failing to implement the obligations contained in the EU Race Equality Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC) and the Employment Equality Directive (Council Directive 2000/78/EC).

Serbia Enacts First Far Reaching Anti-discrimination Law amidst the Clamour of Conservative Opposition

On 26 March 2009 the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia voted to approve the Anti-Discrimination Bill (the Bill) submitted by the Government. The vote marked the end of an 8 year process which had begun with the first draft of the Bill in 2001. The new law prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or other grounds.

Although the drafting and approval of the Bill faced a number of challenges, in particular from conservative and religious groups, it received new impetus in spring 2008 following the establishment of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights. The Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and the Coalition against Discrimination – an alliance of NGOs – were responsible for drafting the final version of the Bill which was due to be discussed in the National Assembly in early March 2009.

Turkey: Constitutional Amendments Lifting Headscarf Ban in Higher Education

London, 13 February 2008

The Equal Rights Trust welcomes the adoption by Turkey’s parliament on 9th February 2008 of two constitutional amendments that will ease restrictions on the freedom to wear the Islamic headscarf in public higher education institutions. It has been widely reported that the ban has led to a reduction in the number of women attending higher education and placed women who wear the headscarf as a matter of religious conviction at a disadvantage with regards to the exercise of their right to manifest their religious beliefs and access education.