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.

NEWS

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 >

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

Briefing No°12: 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 >

Past Events

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 >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Dr Harper at the panel on Afghanistan News

Dr Erica Harper Addresses Afghanistan's Complex Situation and the Role of Investigations at the UN Human Rights Council

19 October 2023

During the latest UN Human Rights Council session, our Head of Research and Policy Studies Dr Erica Harper presented at a side event the situation in Afghanistan.

Read more

News

In Highlight: IMPACT OSS Monitoring Tool

18 September 2023

Via its DHRTTDs Directory, the Geneva Human Rights Platform provides a comprehensive list and description of such key tools and databases. But how to navigate them? Which tool should be used for what, and by whom? In this interview, Dr Domenico Zipoli helps us understand better the specificities of the September highlight of the directory: IMPACT OSS.

Read more

Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law: Navigating Humanitarian Negotiations

7 March 2024, 12:30-13:30

This event, co-organized with the ATLAS network, will feature women with diverse experiences and career paths in international law, specifically emphasizing their involvement in humanitarian negotiations.

Read more

Event

The Recovery Channel

13 March 2024, 18:30-21:30

This one-night-only film screening of The Recovery Channel will dissect this intersection and address the human rights violations witnessed in today's mental health care system and practices.

Read more

Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

2-20 September 2024

Participants in this training course, made of two modules, will examine the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights and the environment, familiarizing themselves with the respective implementation and enforcement mechanisms.

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

A destroyed camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, Project

Understanding the Relationship between Conflict, Security and the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Started in May 2023

This project will develop guidance to inform security, human rights and environmental debates on the linkages between environmental rights and conflict, and how their better management can serve as a tool in conflict prevention, resilience and early warning.

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Environmental Human Rights as a Tool in Early Warning and Conflict Prevention The Role of the Human Rights Council

published on January 2024

Erica Harper, Baïna Ubushieva

Read more

Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

published on December 2023

Erica Harper

Read more