Gender & Sexuality

Ernesto Arias/EFE

While populism and anti-rights narratives increasingly threaten the rights of women and LGBTI communities, movements around the world—from #metoo to creative activism by young feminists in the global South to decades of activism by LGBTI persons at the UN—offer hope. There is a growing recognition of what feminist and LGBTI scholars and practitioners have long been arguing: that gender is not not just about women and LGBTI persons, but about power dynamics, masculinity, behavioural expectations, constructed identities, and harmful inequalities. How far has the human rights movement come on gender and sexuality, and how far does it have yet to go?

 

The forgotten origins of “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

By: Lisa Levenstein
Español

Without the ingenuity of feminists from the Global South and networks of committed activists on every continent, we would never have heard the phrase: “Women’s ...

Under attack from all sides, where does feminism go next?

By: Pardis Mahdavi
Español

In the US, feminism is under attack from the right, the left, and from within—causing American feminists a “triple bind”.

Pandemic patriarchy: regulation, access, and governance in reproductive rights

By: Alison Brysk & Miguel Fuentes Carreno
Español

Structural inequalities in women’s rights are exacerbated by the pandemic and leave poor and racialized women most vulnerable to the denial of reproductive rights.

Between progress and backlash: protecting sexual rights and reproductive rights

By: Sofia Gruskin
Español | 简体中文

What value do human rights have for advancing protections related to sexuality in the current moment?

Business impacts on trans rights demand attention and action

By: Nora Mardirossian
Español

Trans people experience disproportionate rates of violence and socioeconomic exclusion, leading to poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity. What is the role ...

Protesting the preamble: the UN Security Council and the dilution of feminist activism

By: Gina Heathcote
Français

Preambles to UNSC resolutions on women, peace, and security only serve to make feminist politics amenable to the larger militarised agenda of the Security Council.

Protecting migrant women workers in food supply chains during COVID-19

By: Aintzane Márquez Tejón & Hannah Wilson
Español

Spain is paying little heed to the rights of seasonal workers during the pandemic as long as labour needs are met, and the food supply is maintained—what will spur ...

Yes, women’s sexual and reproductive health should matter to the UN Security Council

By: Sara De Vido
Italiano

The failure of the UNSC to explicitly guarantee women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health reinforces a patriarchal governance system that is inherently harmful ...

Workplace sexual harassment in Mexico: towards gender-transformative remedies

By: Paulina Madero Suárez
Español

Can new, non-judicial approaches to gender-based violence and harassment in Mexico effectively supplement judicial avenues?

Protecting freedom from domestic violence and the right to asylum

By: Rachel Freed & Joshua Leach
Español

The restoration of asylum rights to domestic violence survivors in the US illuminates the power of strategic litigation to create positive change—but there are ...

Creating a feminist alliance for trade justice

By: Aishu Balaji & Diyana Yahaya & Michelle R. Maziwisa
Español

Trade liberalisation is incompatible with women’s human rights and gender equality when corporations exploit women’s cheap labour as a source of comparative advantage.

A feminist vision to address labour exploitation in Ethiopia

By: Sehin Teferra
Français

Ethiopia needs a stand-alone feminist campaign calling for a new vision of job creation that prioritizes dignified work and decent wages for both men and women.

The Case of “Lote Ocho”: Indigenous women hold corporations accountable for violence

By: Andrea Bolaños Vargas & Andrea Suárez Trueba
Español

Indigenous women in Guatemala are using the concept of extraterritorial obligations to hold corporations accountable for violence—and to set important precedents ...

Government responses to COVID-19 are exacerbating gender-based violence

By: Muthoni Muriithi
Español | Français

Government-mandated lockdowns are trapping millions of women and girls with their abusers, isolating them from support networks.

Can an online platform increase state accountability on women’s rights?

By: Ramona Vijeyarasa
Español | Français | العربية

Quantitative approaches such as the Gender Legislative Index offer advantages compared to using resource-intensive qualitative approaches alone.

Addressing the gender bias in artificial intelligence and automation

By: Surya Deva
Español | Français

If AI and automation are not developed and applied in a gender-responsive way, they are likely to reproduce and reinforce existing gender stereotypes and discriminatory ...

How data is improving justice for gender-based violence in Fiji

By: Erin Thomas
Español | Na Vosa Vakaviti

To advance equity for girls and to improve faith in the justice system, combatting biases that privilege the interests of perpetrators of gender-based violence ...

Challenging the oil industry through community action in Western Uganda

By: Wangũi wa Kamonji
Español | Português

One women’s group in Uganda is showing that solidarity, community and the determination to sustain generative ways of life can be unstoppable, even in the face ...

Learning from Dalit women fighting for land rights in Punjab

By: Tarini Manchanda
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ | Español | हिन्दी

In Punjab—where about 32% of people are Dalit—Dalit women are fighting for the right to cultivate land, and they are winning.

Can corporations play a role in changing harmful social norms?

By: Cynthia Trigo Paz
Español | Français

A “gender-neutral” approach to human rights due diligence is insufficient, and corporations should take proactive steps towards addressing systemic gender discrimination.

Waorani women resist Ecuador’s extractive agenda in the Amazon

By: Vanessa Daza Castillo
Español | Português

Indigenous women in Ecuador are standing up to an extractive industry that has displaced vulnerable communities and concentrated land ownership in the hands of ...

Communicating Women’s Rights with a hope-based approach

By: Camila Chaudron

For those of us who care about the rights of women around the world, International Women’s Day can feel like empty lip service. But there is an approach that can ...

What can national action plans on business and human rights do for women’s rights?

By: Nora Götzmann & Wangui Kimotho
Français | Español

National action plan processes can—and must—do more to contribute to the realisation of women’s rights.

Putting human rights at the centre of struggles for health and social equality

By: Alicia Ely Yamin
Español

We’ve made progress on economic and social rights, but the human rights community needs new, much more collaborative strategies to challenge the inequalities underlying ...

Can mapping human rights help in the global fight for equality?

By: Ilia Savelev
Español | Français

Human rights mapping has been key to global advocacy for LGBT+ and can be used elsewhere to flag issues of concern and provide empirical data on rights violations.

What battles over “gender ideology” mean for Colombia’s women human rights defenders

By: Rachel Schmidt
Español

Violence against women and the LGBTI community has a long history in Colombia’s state security apparatus, and recent murders of women human rights defenders are ...

Can international human rights law be creatively deployed to expand its protections?

By: Raymond A. Smith
Español

How can international human rights law be creatively deployed to expand protections to other characteristics related to severe and systematic rights violations?

Is climate change worsening gender-based violence in the Pacific Islands?

By: Erin Thomas & Megan Lee Candolfi
Français

In the Pacific Islands, gender inequality and gender-based violence are being exacerbated by climate change, including through natural disasters, migration, and ...

UN treaty bodies advance LGBTI rights

By: Kseniya Kirichenko
Español | Русский

The UN treaty bodies are increasingly scrutinizing states’ treatment of LGBTI persons, and this is having positive local impact.

The little tissue that couldn’t – the hymen’s role in determining sexual history or assault

By: Ranit Mishori & Karen Naimer & Thomas McHale
Español | Français

For such a small piece of tissue, the hymen has gained outsized status as the arbiter of virginity. But can it really do that?

Seeds of inequality: women in sustainable agriculture

By: Karine Belarmino & Marie Schaedel
Español

Control over land management may be more important than mere legal entitlement when it comes to women’s land rights.

Protecting abortion providers requires effective strategies to prevent harassment

By: Ximena Casas Isaza
Español | Français

Abortion providers working in national contexts where the law is poorly understood and abortion is socially stigmatized face harassment by police, spurious charges, ...

Myths and realities of #MeToo: Young feminists in the global South speak out

By: Deepa Ranganathan
Español

#MeToo ignited a conversation about sexual and gender-based violence, but young feminists in the global South have mixed feelings about the movement’s effectiveness.

American policy is strangling health access in the global South

By: Karen Chonofsky
Español

The US Global Gag Rule is impeding far more than access to abortion in the global South—services for HIV, tuberculosis, sanitation, and nutrition are all being ...

UN resolution acknowledges hidden victims of sexual violence in conflict—men and boys

By: Charu Lata Hogg
Español

In addressing conflict-related sexual violence, the UN Security Council has urged prevention, protection and relief efforts address all survivors – women and girls, ...

Bringing women’s voices into the “Smart City Just City” dialogue

By: Natalie Gill
Español

Can urban planners use the technology in “Smart Cities” to create cities that are more just—and safe—for all?

The fight for “fun”damental rights for sex workers in South Africa

By: Ishtar Lakhani
Español | Français

Humour is one of the most effective tools in our activist arsenal, because it has the ability to bring people together from a space of shared connection rather ...

Sex robots: a human rights discourse?

By: Carlotta Rigotti
Español

What are the human rights implications in the growing market for sex robots? Are these AI “gynoids” just harmless sex toys, or do they further marginalize women ...

Silencing the drama - Do the SDG indicators expose the injustices that limit women’s sexual and reproductive lives?

By: Alicia Ely Yamin
Español

The SDGs are a step forward for women’s equality and sexual and reproductive rights, but the indicators used to measure progress may prove problematic for rights ...

Turning anger into positive energy for gender equality in sport

By: Maggie Murphy
Español | Français

Women footballers face discrimination, harassment, and funding challenges every day. But what is more powerful—listing all the problems, or using hope and optimism ...

Inaction on gender equality puts SDGs at risk

By: Marte Hellema & Hannie Meesters
Español

If there is no fundamental and transformational change in how gender equality is addressed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the entire SDG agenda is ...

Fragile Rights? New Challenges for LGBTQ People in the Americas

By: Ari Shaw & Mauricio Albarracín
Español | Português

The rise of religious fundamentalism in Latin America—in conjunction with the populist trend sweeping the globe—is threatening LGBTQ rights and placing people in ...

What we can learn from feminists who fund themselves

By: Tenzin Dolker
Español | Français

Now more than ever, feminist organizations need to deepen the search for autonomous resourcing models that work for our movements, on our own terms.

Why policymakers need to tackle the digital gender gap

By: Ana Brandusescu
Français

Tackling the digital gender gap means more than improving internet access—it means empowering women and girls to use online technology, preventing gender-based ...

Identities in the crosshairs—censoring LGBTQ internet content around the world

By: Miles Kenyon, Adam Senft and Ronald Deibert
Español | العربية

A Canadian company is enabling its software to be used globally to censor access to information on LGBTQ issues, in breach of international standards.

India’s Supreme Court is making landmark judgements in social change

By: Jayna Kothari
Español

In the last few years, public interest litigation at India’s Supreme Court has brought significant wins for human rights—but success is best assured when litigation ...

Using the UN to advance LGBT rights in China

By: Yanzi Peng
简体中文

China’s engagement in UN human rights reviews provides real opportunities to advance protection for LGBT rights, although advocates in China face many obstacles.

Power and safety: rethinking protection for human rights defenders

By: James Savage & Lisa VeneKlasen
Español

The protection and resilience of Human Rights Defenders demands that we all better understand and navigate how power and violence operate in both public and private ...

Malaysia’s punishment of lesbian couple highlights OIC rejection of LGBTQ rights

By: Robert C. Blitt
العربية

Malaysia’s recent caning of a homosexual couple reflects a larger problem with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) continued support for discriminatory ...

A hidden violation—sexual violence against men and boys in Syria and Turkey

By: Charu Lata Hogg
العربية

A new report suggests sexual violence against men and boys in widespread in the Syria conflict. And this largely unacknowledged abuse is barely addressed in the ...

Battling exclusion: giving a voice to women affected by leprosy

By: Alice Cruz
Español

Women affected by leprosy in India and beyond face high levels of discrimination and stigmatization, with virtually no legal recourse or social support—what can ...

A gender lens is critical to resolving tech-enabled abuse

By: Michelle Lau-Burke & Callie Strickland

Technology can raise awareness and spark collective action, but it can also deepen gender divides and provide platforms for harassment. How can ICT companies better ...

Embedding digital security in feminist movement building

By: Jennifer Radloff
العربية | Français | Español

Strengthening the resilience of the women’s rights movement requires feminists to place digital security firmly at the center of our engagement with the internet.

Understanding sexual violence against men and boys in conflict

By: Charu Lata Hogg
العربية | Français | Español

Ten years after sexual violence in war was officially recognized as a threat to peace and security, sexual violence against men and boys still receives very little ...

Creating a healing space for women human rights defenders

By: Ana María Hernández Cárdenas & Nallely Guadalupe Tello Méndez
Español

Self-care and collective care do not erase the stress and tensions of everyday life, but using these strategies can sustainably improve our coexistence and work ...

Fighting the backlash against feminism in Bulgaria

By: Nadejda Dermendjieva & Gergana Kutseva
Español

In Bulgaria, women’s rights, feminism, and LGBTQ rights are inflammatory topics, and one women’s fund is fighting back with controversial campaigns.

The SDGs and gender equality: empty promises or beacon of hope?

By: Kate Donald  & Silke Staab
Français | Español

In a challenging global context for equality and women’s rights, a new UN Women report illustrates how human rights can move SDGs beyond rhetoric of “leaving no ...

Collaborating across movements to fill funding gaps for women in Nepal

By: Pratima Gurung
Español

Groups in Nepal working at the intersections of different issues such as indigenous women with disabilities, are largely invisible to funders—but cross-movement ...

Reframing sexual harassment as gender-based violence: the value of a rights framework

By: Sarah Dávila-Ruhaak
Français | Español

When sexual harassment is reframed as gender-based violence and a human rights violation, rather than just “bad behavior”, it changes the possibilities around responsibility ...

The paradoxical existence of the LGBTI movement in Indonesia

By: Devandy Ario Putro
Bahasa

Indonesia used to have a reputation of tolerance, but inflammatory rhetoric from politicians has led to an increase in violations against the LGBTI community, forcing ...

Survey: most believe women’s rights are human rights

By: James Ron
Español

Have feminists made traction in campaigning that “women’s rights are human rights?" We interviewed thousands of people to find out.

To strengthen global resistance, resource young feminists

By: Felogene Anumo & Ruby Johnson
Español | Français

Young feminists are pushing back and forging new paths in global resistance, but they need financial support and personal security to achieve real gains.

Climate change exacerbates gender inequality, putting women’s health at risk

By: Hwei Mian Lim
Español

Climate change takes a higher toll on women than on men. Women’s health and well-being, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights are all at stake.

Creative persistence: women’s funds responses to the backlash against feminism

By: Augusta Hagen-Dillon
Español

Widespread backlash against progressive values and mounting legal restrictions have led women’s activists and funds to respond creatively.

Making our movements sustainable: practicing holistic security every day

By: Deepa Ranganathan & María Díaz Ezquerro
Español | العربية | Français

What does holistic security and collective self-care in human rights work look like on a day-to-day basis?

Evicted rights in Spain: no room of one’s own

By: Koldo Casla
Español

Thousands of people are being evicted in Spain due to austerity measures, and women are disproportionately affected by structural inequality.

Using experiments to improve women’s rights in Pakistan

By: Gulnaz Anjum & Adam Chilton

Experiments on support for women’s rights in Pakistan could improve the implementation and enforcement of UN treaties.

The private, the social, and the political: a human rights perspective on transgender bathrooms

By: Hà Lê Phan & Inga T. Winkler

When it comes to LGBTIQ rights, bathroom politics reflect and are often linked to much broader questions of inequality and empowerment.

Fast and flexible support: ingredients to enrich LGBTI campaigning

By: Laura Piazza

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to campaigning for today’s LGBTI activists, but providing support on short notice allows organisations to be reactive and ...

In southeastern Europe, data helps bolster LGBTI rights

By: Marko Ivkovic 
Español | Српски

Using polling data, the National Democratic Institute is helping LGBTI groups in southeastern Europe build their activist base.

For sexual minorities, “closing space” for civil society means losing access to critical services

By: David Kuria Mbote
Français

Closing space for African sexual and gender minority groups is about far more than advocacy—it is about accessing critical services that no one else provides.

From taboo to empowerment: menstruation and gender equality

By: Archana Patkar & Rockaya Aidara & Inga T. Winkler
Français

Menstruation and menstrual hygiene are emerging as pivotal issues for gender equality, human rights and development.

Activists get creative in their push for Moroccan women’s rights

By: Rachel Schmidt

Partnering with a comedienne and taking to social media, Human Rights Watch is getting creative to gain traction on women’s rights in Morocco.

Migrants are driving innovative campaigns for female refugees in Germany

By: Claudia Bollwinkel
Deutsch

Activists are using a multi-van in Germany to help female refugees cope with violence and harassment.

Building community around women’s rights: feminist philanthropy in Serbia

By: Zoe Gudovic
Español

Becoming agents of change for women’s rights in Serbian society requires creativity in building connections and solidarity.

Without addressing women’s security, we can’t hope for equality

By: Amrita Kapur
Español

Understanding why and how insecurity affects women is key to overcoming inequality across all dimensions of empowerment.

What do South Africans really think about sexual orientation and gender identity?

By: Carla Sutherland 

South Africa stands apart from the criminalization of homosexuality in Africa, but without surveys, we still don’t know the public’s opinion.

Partners in prayer: women's rights and religion in Morocco

By: Meriem El Haitami & Shannon Golden & James Ron
Français | العربية

Pundits say that religion and human rights are opposing forces in Morocco, especially around women’s rights. Our Human Rights Perception Polls suggest a more nuanced ...

Eliminating female genital mutilation by 2030

By: Nafissatou J. Diop
Français | العربية

The UN’s proposed new development goals include a target to end harmful traditional practices like FGM by 2030. We now know the key steps needed to get there.

Secularism can sometimes undermine women’s rights

By: Emma Tomalin

Rights activists tend to identify secularism with women’s rights, but if we don’t engage with religion, we can’t effectively confront many wrong-headed policies ...

Women’s rights in Tunisia: promising future or religio-political game?

By: Elsy Melkonian
Français | العربية

Women in Tunisia have long enjoyed rights that are very clear on paper. In practice, however, the government’s willingness to enforce these rights seems to depend ...

What does the “right to life” really mean for Catholics in Mexico?

By: Renee De La Torre
Español

It’s time for leaders in the Mexican Catholic Church to speak up where they are most needed.

Focusing on women and transgenders in LGBT rights

By: Nicola Desouza

Nepal is the most open country in South Asia for LGBT rights, but even here, patriarchal biases exclude women and transgenders. Can foreign funding change this?

What do Muslim women want? Finding women’s rights in Islam

By: Xaviera Medina
Español

The Koran proclaims equality between the sexes but also clearly indicates male superiority. In the fight for women’s rights in Islamic societies, how do human rights ...

Women’s rights in the developing world: Build it and it will come?

By: Valerie Percival 

Countries with equal rights for women are more prosperous, more secure, and less corrupt. But how does the international community help societies become more equal? ...

From aid to investment: funding women's rights groups

By: Angelika Artyunova

A paradigm shift in funding from human rights toward 'investments' and 'business solutions' is threatening women’s rights organizing and the rights-based approach ...

 
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