Gender, Business & Human Rights

Al Jazeera Photo-International women day in Egypt-via Flickr

“Human rights violations are not gender neutral. For example, women in the garment industry are disproportionately victims of gender-based and sexual violence in the workplace. Similarly, when it comes to land conflicts, women are affected in ways that may not be obvious. There is a cultural pressure to provide food and shelter, and when women abandon these roles to campaign for greater land security for example, they open themselves to criticism for abandoning their traditional roles and even to threats and instances of domestic violence. Approaching Business and Human Rights issues with a gendered lens is therefore critical as it serves to ensure that these inequalities are not overlooked.”

- Chak Sopheap, Executive Director, Cambodian Centre for Human Rights


There is growing attention to gender equality in business and human rights. This is encouraging given that all issues ranging from technology to natural resources affect people differently depending on their gender identity and expression, with women, trans, and gender non-conforming people being more likely to experience negative impacts.

This is because abuses occur within a context of structural discrimination and exclusion and are driven by imbalances in power, wealth and resources. Women, trans and gender non-conforming people are frequently rendered vulnerable because of systemic discrimination that manifests in laws, policies, norms and practices that fail to account for their dignity, agency and autonomy. This is made worse by business models and gender-neutral practices that reproduce inequalities and/or are complicit in maintaining the status quo of discrimination and unequal power relations.

It is vital that this growing attention to the nexus of gender, business, and human rights better recognises and values the voices and leadership of women, trans, and gender non-confirming people, and account for their multiple roles as human rights defenders, food producers, workers and caregivers.

Applying an intersectional approach to business activities is therefore necessary to ensure laws, policies and practices align with realities and transform the status quo. This requires concerted gender-responsive action by states, businesses, investors, financial institutions, working in close collaboration with feminist movements, civil society and other actors to address structural discrimination and achieve gender equality.

We emphasise intersectionality because it enables us to understand the full and complex experiences of discrimination and identify the interplay between different structures and how they conspire to impact people differently depending on their gender identity and expression, as well as other factors.

This portal is a resource to support engagement on gender, business and human rights so that laws, policies and practices affirm human rights and give expression to the dignity and leadership of people with different gender identities and expression.

We welcome resources that support this aim.

If you have any published resources to be included in this portal, please contact Sanyu Awori [awori [at]].   

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