Amnesty International has called for "bold action" to reverse an erosion of human rights for women and girls over the past year. The rights watchdog said in a statement on March 8, which is celebrated as International Women's Day, that many countries have dismantled legal protections, leaving women and those who defend their rights at "unprecedented risk."
"Events in 2021 and in the early months of 2022 have conspired to crush the rights and dignity of millions of women and girls," Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in the statement. "No society can afford or should ever tolerate such erosions of dignity for more than half its population,"she added.
The statement highlighted the plight of women caught up in conflict zones such as Ukraine, where Russia has launched an unprovoked invasion that has forced more than 1.7 million people, mainly women and children, to flee to neighboring countries.
"Today across Ukraine and the broader region, once again women and girls are at grave risk," Amnesty said in its statement, adding that areas of eastern Ukraine affected by the years-long conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists have seen increased rates of gender-based violence and limited access to basic services.
"It is a pattern now set to spread across the country as a whole," it said.
The coronavirus pandemic and the rollback of women's rights in Afghanistan were among the events that disproportionately impacted women's and girls' rights over the past 12 months, Callamard said.
She also listed "the widespread sexual violence characterizing the conflict in Ethiopia, attacks on abortion access in the United States, and Turkey's withdrawal from the landmark Istanbul Convention on Gender Based Violence" among the factors that have aggravated the worsening situation for women.
Callamard urged governments to revoke decisions that have worsened the situation of women and girls.
"There can be no excuses for failing to govern justly and fairly for women and girls,” she said.