Human Rights Advocacy on Gender Issues: Challenges and Opportunities
Journal of Human Rights Practice, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2009
19 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2009
Date Written: June, 19 2009
This article reviews recent developments in human rights law on gender issues, and identifies upcoming challenges and opportunities for advocates on these issues.
Recent years have seen notable progress on issues of gender and human rights in standard-setting. Progress can also been seen to some extent in the application of these standards through international and domestic legislation, jurisprudence, and institutional programming and development. Some international and regional human rights bodies now go beyond just including 'women' in a list of 'vulnerable' groups, and have begun to incorporate women's experiences and perspectives into recommendations for structural changes needed to bring about full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls. In addition, the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people are being taken up beyond the first human rights bodies that addressed them.
Despite this progress, many challenges remain. Violence against women continues at a staggering rate. Gender-based discrimination persists in the workplace, housing, education, disaster relief, health care, and countless other areas. Access to justice continues to be hindered by a range of obstacles. Religion, tradition, and culture continue to be used as a shield for violating women's rights. Same-sex conduct is still criminalized in scores of countries, and it carries the death penalty in seven states. The traditional human rights law paradigm, with its focus on the state, may be obsolete in dealing with human rights abuses by such diverse non-state actors as powerful militias and global corporations. This article reviews both recent developments and upcoming challenges in advocacy on gender issues.
Keywords: human rights, gender, sexual orientation, women, gender identity, Yogyakarta Principles, equality, United Nations, non-state actors
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation