Human Rights Advocacy on Gender Issues: Challenges and Opportunities

Posted: 22 Mar 2010

See all articles by Stephanie Farrior

Stephanie Farrior

Hunter College, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute

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Date Written: March 2009


Recent years have seen notable progress on issues of gender and human rights in standard-setting and to some extent application of those standards through international and domestic legislation and jurisprudence, and in 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, recent years have seen the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people being taken up beyond the first human rights bodies that addressed them, and developments have taken place in standard-setting. 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 highlights just a few opportunities and challenges to come for international human rights advocacy on gender issues.

Keywords: equality, gender discrimination, non-state actors, sexual orientation, Yogyakarta principles, women's rights

Suggested Citation

Farrior, Stephanie, Human Rights Advocacy on Gender Issues: Challenges and Opportunities (March 2009). Journal of Human Rights Practice, Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp. 83-100, 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Stephanie Farrior (Contact Author)

Hunter College, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute ( email )

47-49 E 65th St
New York, NY 10065
United States

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