HRC 42: Statement on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms

Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms

Thank you Mr. President

The Federation makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative. 

In the twelve years since resolution 6/30 was adopted by this Council, women have worked tirelessly to ensure their rights are reflected in normative frameworks of the international human rights system.  From the pioneering reports of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and the Special Rapporteur on Racism, to Treaty Body General Comments that codify sexual and reproductive rights, to intensive advocacy for the recognition of preventable maternal death and disability as a human rights emergency. 

These efforts and many others, have a shared a focus on utilizing a human rights approach to addressing the root causes of gender inequality.  They ask all stakeholders to dig deeper into the systemic causes of rights violations to identify who is disproportionately impacted, who is making the rules and for whose benefit, and to develop strategies to change the status quo. 

The underrepresentation of women in human rights mechanisms must therefore be understood as a failure to apply a human rights based approach to selection processes.  We welcome this panel discussion as a means to develop a more in-depth understanding of the systemic problems underlying gender parity. However, we urge the Council to move beyond strictly mathematical terms as it does not provide solutions for the structural reasons why women remain less represented in HR mechanisms.

Creating an enabling environment for inclusivity and equality within the human rights system itself  will not be attainable without consultation with women as to what conditions would be facilitate their applications, recognition that women are not a homogenous group and experience intersecting obstacles to reaching higher ranks, acknowledgement that applicants hold multiple identities including as family and community members and a fundamental shift in the part of senior leadership to meaningfully address women’s underrepresentation throughout the human rights system.  Research shows that organizations with more robust gender metrics and accountability systems are more than twice as likely to improve gender balance in representation. 

There is a critical reason resolution 6/30 was created 12 years ago.  In large part, it was to ensure that no one could forget the imperative of considering gender in each and every system of the Council. We urge all stakeholders to re-read it, and to re-commit to implementing its recommendations thoroughly and meaningfully.

Thank you.