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Gender, Business & Human Rights

Applying an intersectional approach is the most powerful way to tackle unfair treatment and transform the status quo. Gender justice must lie at the heart of business and human rights.

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

Gender justice must lie at the heart of business and human rights. Women workers are often the worst paid and treated; women are often without land titles and dispossessed; and attacks on women who stand up to abusive business are on the rise. Equally, women are an essential part of the solution: for instance, their struggle for decent work and a living wage facilitates so many other key rights such as to housing, and the rights to health and education. Women are also organised – around pay discrimination, #MeToo in the workplace, and land rights, for instance.

There is growing attention to ensure gender equality in business and human rights. While this is encouraging, it is vital that this movement recognises and values the voices and leadership of women and accounts for their multiple roles as human rights defenders, food producers, workers and caregivers.

This portal aims to support this engagement and is a collaboration between the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Our purpose is to support all actors working with business and human rights to promote gender justice as a critical component, so laws, policies and practices affirm human rights and give expression to the dignity and leadership of people with different gender identities and expression.

Applying an intersectional approach that looks across opportunities to end all forms of discrimination is the most powerful way to tackle unfair treatment and transform the status quo. This will be through changes to business leadership, policy and practice, as well as the laws, regulations and business incentives of governments. It requires concerted gender-responsive action by states, businesses, investors, financial institutions, civil society and other actors, working in close collaboration with feminist movements, to address structural discrimination and achieve gender equality.

Through this portal we seek to provide you with the latest news and developments; powerful guidance and toolkits; evidence, research and analysis from across our movement. We also seek to be responsive, so please send us feedback on what excites or helps you. We would like to acknowledge that this initial version of the portal focuses in particular on women. As part of growing and evolving the portal, additional contributions representing diverse gender and feminist perspectives are therefore particularly welcome. 

If you would like to contribute analysis, offer practical tools or would like to write for our blog series, please contact Sanyu Awori [awori [at] business-humanrights.org].

Explore our blog series

This blog series, produced in collaboration with Danish Institute for Human Rights and OpenGlobalRights, explores critical topics at the nexus of gender, business and human rights, looking at practical examples that demonstrate why gender justice is necessary and how it might be achieved.