Module 6 – 12 Gender and human rights

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that every human being is entitled to all the rights and freedoms within the Declaration “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (UN General Assembly 1948). Thus, the principle of equality in international human rights instruments is expressed in very general and open-textured terms (Fredman and Goldblatt 2015).

Until now, millions of women face discrimination in terms of social and economic inequality, resulting in poorer life chances for women. About one third of the women worldwide suffer from gender-based violence, many women are denied their sexual and reproductive health rights and laws and policies still prohibit women from equal access to land, housing and property. In this context, especially women refugees represent the most vulnerable population, because they lack in social and economic stability as well as access to health care, housing and property.

The Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted by the United Nations in 1979, defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets an agenda for national action against such discrimination.

For information on skills how to educate women on sexual and reproductive rights see for instance this guide to promote gender equity in sexual- and reproductive health programs.