Human Rights Advocacy on Gender Issues: Challenges and Opportunities
Vermont Law School
Journal of Human Rights Practice, Vol. 1, Issue 1, pp. 83-100, 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
Date posted: March 22, 2010