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

Sima Samar at the conference News

Sima Samar Will Deliver the Keynote Speech at the Geneva Human Rights Platform 2021 Annual Conference

21 September 2021

Sima Samar, former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, will deliver the keynote speech at the 2021 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Read more

Cover of the Book News

Our Research Fellow Dr. Zipoli contributes to new book on the Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights

25 August 2021

The new edited book on the The Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights (2021, Routledge) has just been published, our Research Fellow Dr. Domenico Zipoli contributes to this book project with a chapter on the engagement between TBs and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).

Read more

Police officers during a demonstration Event

Discussion on the UN Guidelines for Lawyers in Support of Peaceful Assemblies

24 January 2022, 13:30-15:00

This event aims at promoting the use of the new Guidelines for Lawyers in Support to Peaceful Assemblies within legal professions.

Read more

Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law

7 February 2022, 12:30-14:00

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

Read more

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

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

11 February - 4 March 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

An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

9 March - 13 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Read more

Panel Discussion: Project

Treaty Body Members’ Platform

Started in January 2014

The Treaty Body Members’ Platform connects experts in UN treaty bodies with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.

Read more

NYU Stern BHR Knitwear Factory in Mymensingh Project

Business and Human Rights: Towards a Decade of Global Implementation

Started in July 2020

This project aims at supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights' project for the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Regulatory Approaches to Online Harms and Human Rights: Three Case Studies

published on January 2022

Ana Beduschi

Read more