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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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Introduction

The principle of equality is a central commitment in international human rights instruments. However, the right to equality is generally defined in open-textured terms. The central covenants simply refer to an obligation on States to ensure human rights without ‘distinction’, ‘discrimination’, ‘exclusion’, or ‘restriction’ or ‘on the basis of equality’ as between men and women. The open-textured nature of this principle has been elaborated through the concluding observations, general recommendations, general comments and case law of the treaty bodies, as well as through the reports of experts operating under the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.

English

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