The Role of Women’s Human Rights Mechanisms in Advancing a Feminist Agenda and Protecting Human Rights

FAR aims to increase the knowledge and effective utilization of international and regional human rights instruments and mechanisms. This approach strengthens the capacities of women’s rights defenders and organizations, as well as supports their strategies to hold governments accountable for human rights violations against women and girls.

As women’s rights and gender equality continue to face backlash and attacks, it is more important than ever to acknowledge and protect our achievements, strengthen collaborative efforts among feminist organizations in defense of women’s rights, and amplify the voices of those at the forefront.

For this reason, we want to highlight the public statement recently published by a group of civil society organizations, which highlights the important standard setting role of the Human Rights Council (HRC) during the HRC 41 Session, in passing three resolutions that are crucial for the rights of women and girls, despite opposition from certain governments and “anti-rights” organizations and extending the mandate of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice under its new name of Working Group on discrimination against women and girls. While the Working Group will continue to focus on the same terms provided when it was established in 2010, which included examining women’s issues based on a life-cycle approach, it now has a specific mandate to pursue all of its work through the dimension of age. This will enable the Working Group to more directly examine and address the specific forms of discrimination that girls face worldwide.

These are important gains that we need to highlight among the many challenges and rollbacks we are dealing with every day as women’s human rights defenders. FAR will continue to strengthen and bridge women’s organizations and feminists from the Global South and Global North against fundamentalists and their allies attempting to rollback women’s rights. As noted by the CSOs in their statement:

In the midst of these political dynamics, now more than ever is the time to re-emphasize the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights, and to create global solidarity across movements. The backlash against the rights of women and girls is only just beginning, and our movements are only as strong as our unity.

Read the full statement here signed by a number of feminist organizations including Action Canada for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Arrow, AWID, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Choice for Youth and Sexuality, Coalition of African Lesbians, Federation of Women and Family Planning, International Plan Parenthood Federation, Plan International, Sexual Rights Initiative, and Swedish Association for Sexuality Education.