International Context

In 1979, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women addressed gender equality, requiring in Article 3 that states take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and promotion of women to guarantee the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on equality with men. Some 25 years later, in 1995, the World Conference on Women issued the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, expressing concern that women's equality had still not been achieved and that factors such as language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or belonging to an indigenous community posed numerous obstacles to the self-determination and advancement of women and girls.

The European Union committed itself to protecting its citizens from discrimination with the Employment Equality Directive in 2000, and with the Racial Equality Directive, improved the mechanisms for protection against discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin. The principles of equality and non-discrimination were subsequently recognised as fundamental European values, supported by the provisions of several treaties and by the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 23). In addition to prohibited grounds of discrimination such as race, ethnic or social origin, gender, language, religion, etc., the EU Charter makes particular reference to membership of national minorities (Article 21), calls for respect for diversity (Article 22), and equality between men and women (Article 23).

Despite various programs and policies and the achievements of the Beijing Platform for Action, gender equality and women's empowerment are still among sustainable development goals. The complexity of the challenges faced by some minority women, particularly Roma women and girls, arises not only from discrimination on multiple grounds but also from the intersectionality of the different levels at which inequalities occur.