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"The rights of women have long been recognised. But in practice these rights are often violated," says FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, on the occasion of International Women's Day on 8 March. "In addition, since discrimination can take many forms, as FRA research has shown, many women face multiple discrimination because, for example, of their gender and ethnic background or because of their gender and their age."
The FRA conducts independent research into many areas of fundamental rights. This means that the Agency looks at a number of factors that impact on people's lives and their enjoyment of rights. Rather than look at gender in isolation, the Agency looks at gender alongside factors such as ethnicity and age, and as such has identified how the rights of women are violated in a way that is often exacerbated by other forms of discrimination:
- Women with disabilities can experience unequal access to reproductive healthcare. For example, health professionals do not always talk to those women directly but prefer to communicate with their carers. Reproductive rights may also be denied. There is evidence of women with intellectual disabilities and women with mental health problems as being victims of forced sterilisation in some EU Member States.
- Migrant women often face considerable discrimination and are over-represented in poorly regulated and poorly paid sectors of employment, such as domestic work. As domestic workers are mostly women, they are often vulnerable to specific forms of gender-based violence and racial discrimination. In addition, their irregular migration status means they are often not entitled to basic rights under national law such as healthcare (For more, see FRA report on access to healthcare for irregular migrants).
- Violence against women continues to be a problem and policy makers lack comparable cross-national data to help tackle the issue. The FRA is currently interviewing over 40,000 women across the EU to document their experiences of violence at home and at work, including stalking and experiences in childhood. The survey has been developed over the course of two years, with input from leading experts, as well as the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). In an effort to reflect and understand the diversity of women's experiences, the data will compare findings across Member States, taking into account differences according to factors such as age, employment and education. For more, see FRA factsheet on gender-based violence against women.