Gender-based discrimination

Published on February 14, 2023

As we embark on another year of activism for sexual rights, we wanted to share with you our highlights of 2022. While the UN human rights system continues to be confronted by multiple challenges –from funding shortages, geopolitical tensions and polarisation and attempts to undermine multilateralism to the presence and influence of regressive and conservative actors, we have made steadfast progress in advancing sexual rights in this system. Read below for our highlights of 2022.

Published on December 15, 2022

The 42nd session of the Universal Periodic review begins on the 23rd of January 2023. The working group session will take place from 23 January to 3 February 2023. 13 Countries will be under review during the session: Czechia, Gabon, Benin, Switzerland, Argentina, Ghana, Guatemala, the Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Sri Lanka and Zambia. In collaboration with our partners, the SRI collaborated on reports for Guatemala, Japan, Pakistan, Switzerland and Zambia.

Uploaded on December 15, 2022

Current discourse about the nature of sex work in Zambia and the experiences of sex workers is narrow. Discussions on laws criminalising sex work are often informed by arguments on morality. Morality is a complex and subjective issue, heavily informed by patriarchal, religious norms and standards - criminal laws must comply with international human rights standards.

Uploaded on December 15, 2022

This report is submitted by SEXUAL HEALTH Switzerland and the Sexual Rights Initiative. It examines the human rights situation in Switzerland, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Uploaded on December 15, 2022

This joint stakeholder report assesses Pakistan’s progress since its third cycle review in meeting its obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the sexual and reproductive health and rights obligations it has towards young people, particularly women and transgender persons. The submission focuses on access to safe abortion, the sexual rights of LGBT people, and access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services.

Published on June 17, 2022

Statement by Action Canada, Action Canada's National Youth Advisory Board and the Sexual Rights Initiative to the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.

Uploaded on October 08, 2021

This is the moment to radically reimagine our systems and institutions so that they serve the people. The pandemic has shown that when states choose to, they can act swiftly to implement policies and spend resources that would have been unthinkable two years ago.  At the Human Rights Council, we must recognize this moment for what it is -a chance to breathe new and transformative life into the human rights system and everything that it is supposed to stand for.

Uploaded on May 28, 2019

In this report, the Working Group examines discrimination against women and girls in cultural and family life. The cultural construction of gender determines the role of women and girls within the family, including in marriage. After analysing the impact of culture and religion on the enjoyment of equal rights by women and girls in society and the family, the Working Group redefines family by incorporating a gender perspective.

Uploaded on May 28, 2019

The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 27/22 on intensifying global efforts and sharing good practices to effectively eliminate female genital mutilation. Following a brief overview of issues related to that practice and the applicable legal framework, the report contains a summary of some of the initiatives undertaken by States, United Nations entities and non-governmental and other organizations to eliminate it, and an analysis of the continued challenges.

Uploaded on May 23, 2019

The Human Rights Council,

Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other relevant human rights instruments,

Uploaded on May 22, 2019

Country: Cambodia

Collaborators: SRI, People Health Development Association

Key Words: Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Young People; Sex Work; Sexual Violence; Sexual Transmitted Infections; HIV; Human Rights of Women; Discrimination Against Women; Gender-Based Violence


Country: Costa Rica

Collaborators: SRI, Mulabi-Costa Rica

Uploaded on May 07, 2019

Many practices and norms that discriminate against women and other groups of people that have historically suffered discrimination and persecution are justified by reference to tradition, such as so-called honour killings, dowry-related violence and homophobic violence. Several States have taken actions to dismantle such traditional values, norms and practices, such as laws and programmes to end domestic violence and female genital mutilation, decriminalization of consensual sexual activity and media campaigns to counter homophobia.

Uploaded on May 01, 2019

Through this submission the SRI would like to highlight the links between adolescents’ sexual rights and education. Gender-based discrimination, social control over girls’ sexuality and sexual abuse lead to high drop out of girls from formal education systems. Discrimination against and humiliation of gender non-conforming and transgender children causes them to drop out as well. In South Asia, for example, intersex children are often given away to hijra communities who, facing social ostracization, live in poverty and are kept out of formal education systems.

Published on September 20, 2018

Here are statements the Sexual Rights Initiative has made during the 39th session of the Human Rights Council.

September 10, 2018

Item 3: Clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery and the Independent Expert on democratic and equitable international order.

Thank You Mr President,

Published on July 10, 2018

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Progressive Communications, the International Service for Human Rights, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, the World Young Women Christian Association welcome the major gains on women’s and girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.

Published on July 09, 2018

The 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from June 18 to July 6, 2018. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights related resolutions, oral statements and annual discussions. All of which the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) was engaged with during the session.


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Published on November 17, 2016

Find out which human rights recommendations were accepted, noted or deferred by Haiti, Iceland, Lithuania, Moldova (Republic of), South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), and Zimbabwe during the latest UN Universal Periodic Review.

The 26th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, from 31 October-11 November 2016.

Published on October 02, 2015

On September 22nd, during the 30th session of the Human Rights Council, we co-hosted a side event to discuss protection gaps around sexual rights. The five panelists discussed the nature and causes of existing protection gaps in sexual rights, and gave recommendations to further protections for all individuals in the field of sexuality.

Published on July 06, 2015

During the 29th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, four UN Special Procedures — the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography — sent a letter to the President of the Human Rights Council expressing concerns regarding the debates on the Protection of the Family resolution.

Published on March 06, 2014

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), at its recently concluded session, issued a statement on sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is its contribution to the [email protected] review process. The Committee reminds us that it “has observed that failure of a State party to provide services and the criminalisation of some services that only women require is a violation of women’s reproductive rights and constitutes discrimination against them.” It States that “the provision of, inter alia, safe abortion and post abortion care; maternity care; timely diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), breast and reproductive cancers, and infertility; as well as access to accurate and comprehensive information about sexuality and reproduction, are all part of the right to sexual and reproductive health” and that “every State can and should do more to ensure the full respect, protection and fulfilment of sexual and reproductive rights, in line with human rights obligations.”

Published on March 03, 2014

In 2013, in response to the request from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for submissions on ‘how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility could contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights,’ the SRI submitted a report focusing on the many practices and norms that discriminate against women and other groups of people.

Published on March 01, 2014

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights recently launched a new publication entitled “Reclaiming and Redefining Rights – ICPD+20: Status of sexual and reproductive rights in Middle East and North Africa.” The publication progress achieved and challenges remaining in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), since 1994 in the MENA region. The report is contextualized within recent and ongoing events including the Arab Spring, Governmental positions during recent global conferences, among other events.

Published on February 07, 2014

Building on the Hague Civil Society Call to Action on Human Rights and ICPD Beyond 2014, the SRI’s written statement for the upcoming 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development calls on governments to:

Ensure the implementation of all human rights obligations related to the Programme of Action of the ICPD;

Promote equality by tackling the root causes of structural inequalities;

Published on September 20, 2013

To commemorate the 2013 Global Day of Action for the Decriminalization of Abortion (September 28th), the Sexual Rights Initiative organized an event that took place during the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the realization of women’s human rights, specifically women’s right to access safe and legal abortion, including through the decriminalization of abortion. Being one of the first events on the topic at the Council, it represents a ground-breaking moment in its history. Widely attended by over 30 representatives from Member States – making up half of the audience, UN agencies, civil society, women human rights defenders and academics, they assessed the human rights implications of the criminalization of abortion and explored strategies to strengthen government accountability and responsibility in respecting, protecting and guaranteeing women’s reproductive and human rights.

Published on September 12, 2013

Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), a member of the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) coalition, was represented on the panel for the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Annual Discussion on the integration of a gender perspective. The discussion took place as part of the official proceedings of the HRC’s 24th session. The topic of the discussion was “Civil society’s contribution to the integration of a gender perspective in the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.”