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

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

A meeting of the Treaty Body Members Platform at Villa Moynier News

The Treaty Body Members Platform in 2021: A New 2.0 Version

7 February 2022

In 2021, the Geneva Human Rights Platform developed and launched a new online tool for all UN treaty body members to interact online as a community of practice, consult each other, collaborate on tasks, connect to share news and information, and contribute material to a resource library

Read more

Jean-Paul Nizigiyimana in front of the Mur des Réformateurs in Geneva News

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

17 December 2021

Jean-Paul Nizigiyimana tells about his background, the programme and what it will bring to his career.

Read more

Wheat field Event

UNDROP in the Future EU Seed Marketing Reform: The Perspective of Italy

6 June 2022, 14:00-15:30

This online bilingual workshop, held in English and Italian, aims to raise awareness about the upcoming changes to the European Union (EU) seed marketing legislation and what this reform means in the Italian context.

Read more

UN building in New York Event

Side-Event at the Annual Meeting of Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies

1 June 2022, 13:15-14:30

The Geneva Human Rights Platform team will be travelling to New York to host a side event on ‘Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – where do we stand’.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

7-11 November 2022

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

Read more

Food distribution line in Bangkok Training

Building Back Better: A Focus on the Right to Health and the Right to Food

6-10 June 2022

This training course builds on a series of training delivered during the last years around different ESCR and their links to the SDGs. The 2022 edition will focus on the topical question of the COVID impact, including backlashes in the progress towards the SDGs, with a focus on the rights to health and food.

Read more

George Floyd protest in Washington D.C. Project

Promoting and Protecting the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association and Civic Space Worldwide

Started in June 2020

This project aims at providing support to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Clément Voulé by addressing emerging issues affecting civic space and eveloping tools and materials allowing various stakeholders to promote and defend civic space.

Read more

Wheat field Project

The Right to Seeds in Europe

Started in January 2018

The project will notably identify the main opportunities and obstacles to protect the right to seeds in Europe. It will also discuss how to promote changes in European laws, policies and trade agreements to ensure that they do not infringe, but facilitate the realization of peasants’ right to seeds.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Regulating business conduct in the technology sector gaps and ways forward in applying the UNGPs

published on April 2022

Ana Beduschi, Isabel Ebert

Read more