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Gender Equality and Human Rights

image of Gender Equality and Human Rights

There is a strong commitment to equality between women and men in international human rights law. The various actors within the treaty system who are tasked with elaborating on the meaning of human rights in international law have given close attention to gender equality. This work evaluates these elaborations against a conception of equality that is substantive. The achievement of substantive equality is understood here as having four dimensions: redressing disadvantage; countering stigma, prejudice, humiliation and violence; transforming social and institutional structures; and facilitating political participation and social inclusion. The publication suggests that there is a growing consensus at the international level on an understanding of substantive equality that reflects the four dimensions set out here. Making this understanding explicit will assist in addressing, through a range of means, the challenges of gendered inequality.

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Using the equality framework to evaluate social and economic policy and provisions

The above analysis illustrates that the four-dimensional framework of substantive gender equality set out in the first part of this paper is implicitly followed in the recent observations and recommendations of the human rights treaty bodies and special procedures mandate holders. These groups and individuals routinely locate their work on gender equality within the four dimensions set out above, even if this is not always explicitly stated. This is an encouraging trend as it reflects a deep understanding within the human rights system of the need for a sophisticated approach to equality to achieve far-reaching change by challenging complex inequalities.

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