Human Rights and Gender Equality in the Context of Business Activities

Completed in February 2020

Background

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UN Working Group) launched a consultation process to apply a 'gender lens' to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

While it is commonly accepted that businesses have legal obligations to respect the equal rights of women and men within the workplace, the precise contours of corporate obligations in relation to the wider economic, social, cultural impact of their activities remain unclear. There is, however, an increasing body of jurisprudence that highlights the gendered impact of corporate activities beyond the workplace.

Objective

This project aimed to support the UN Working Group’s consultation process and thus contribute the promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality in relation to the business sector via research on international human rights law (IHRL) and policies related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities, and the organization of a global conference in Geneva.

Research

The research focused on IHRL and policy related to gender equality guarantees and their application to business activities. It outlined existing gender equality provisions in IHRL and in policy documents that are most relevant to the context of corporate activities.

As the area of business responsibilities takes in a huge range of sectors - manufacturing, financial services, the digital economy, extractive industries, hospitality, agriculture, etc. - the project provided a brief overview of the ways in which a gender and women’s rights perspective could be applied within various sectors without seeking to comprehensively cover the entire gambit of business activities in every field.

Integrating a Gender Perspective in Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: From Guidance to Implementation

27 June 2019, 13:00-14:00

Read more >

OUTPUT

This research supported the development by the UN Working Group of its ‘Gender Guidance for the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ via a publication that clarified the responsibilities of companies under IHRL regarding gender equality and the organization of a global conference that marked the end of a large consultative process.

Outlining the Responsibilities of Business Actors in Relation to Gender Equality under International Human Rights Law

The publication Gender Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches focuses on the direct responsibilities of business actors to respect and, in some circumstances, facilitate gender equality guarantees under IHRL and details corporate human rights obligations to respect the equal rights of men, women and gender non-conforming people within the workplace, as well as in relation to the wider economic, social and cultural impact of their activities.

This publication provided background information for the development by the UN Working Group of its ‘Gender Guidance for the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. It was presented and discussed at several events, including at the annual Forum on Business and Human Rights and at the UN Working Group’s global conference on the application of a 'gender lens' to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Global Conference

The Geneva Academy collaborated with the UN Working Group to host its global conference which discussed the outcome of the consultation process and defined the scope and content of the 'gender lens' document on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Building on a series of regional conferences, it included members of the UN Working Group and UN treaty bodies, as well as representatives of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, states, international organizations, National Human Rights Institutions, NGOs and academia.

Publications

Cover of the Briefing

Gender Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches

December 2018

Joanna Bourke Martignoni, Elizabeth Umlas

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Download >

NEWS AND EVENTS

Participants in the consultation News

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation to Integrate Gender-Sensitive and Gender-Responsive Frameworks in Business Activities

5 February 2019

Academics, representatives of international organizations, members of UN treaty bodies, the private sector, business associations and civil society discussed the integration of a ‘gender lens’ to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Read more >

Cambodia- A day in the life of Chhun Srey Sros, a garment factory worker in Cambodia News

Gender Equality: Clarifying the Responsibilities of Companies under International Human Rights Law

10 December 2018

Our new publication Gender Responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-Based Approaches focuses on the direct responsibilities of business actors to respect and, in some circumstances, facilitate gender equality guarantees under international human rights law.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Woman in a market in Africa News

New Publication Details the Impact of Agricultural and Land Commercialization on Gender Equality and the Right to Food

3 November 2020

A new Research Brief summarizes a number of findings from a research partnership of practitioners and scholars from Cambodia, Ghana, and Switzerland.

Read more

Portrait of Ely Cossio in from of the broken chair at the Place des Nations in Geneva News

MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What Our Students Say

18 January 2021

In this interview, Ely Cossio, currently enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, tells about the programme and life in Geneva

Read more

View of a session of the UN Human Rights Council Event

UN Human Rights Council at 15 – Role and Perspectives

28 April 2021, 13:00-14:30

This online event – co-organized with the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) and the Embassy of Switzerland in Poland – will discuss the Council’s membership and internal dynamics, as well as selected mechanisms.

Read more

A view of Delmas 32, a neighborhood in Haiti Training

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

14-18 June 2021

This training course explores the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provides participants with practical tools to include ESCR and the SDGs in their work.

Read more

Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Winter 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

Read more

Sign: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal Project

Local Implementation of Global Human Rights

Started in May 2020

The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.

Read more

Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures

published on February 2021

Jonathan Andrew

Read more