HRC Advances Rights of Women and Girls

Action Canada is a member of the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), a coalition of organizations from Canada, Poland, India, Egypt, Argentina and Africa, that work together to advance human rights related to sexuality at the United Nations.

The Sexual Rights Initiative welcomes the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of three resolutions that advance gender equality, empowerment and the human rights of women and girls. These resolutions are entitled:

  1. Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate all Forms of Violence Against Women: Eliminating Domestic Violence
  2. Strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage
  3. Elimination of discrimination against women

The resolution on Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate all Forms of Violence Against Women is an annual resolution run by Canada. This year, it focused on eliminating domestic violence, which has never been the focus of a resolution at the Council before now.

Through this resolution, adopted by consensus, and co-sponsored by 87 countries so far, the Council expresses grave concern over the prevalence of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence. It reiterates that States must eliminate harmful practices that women and girls are subjected to such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and cannot invoke custom, tradition, or religion to avoid doing so.

The Council calls upon States to penalise acts of domestic violence, including marital rape, partner violence, so-called “honour” crimes, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation. It also asks States to eliminate legislation and practices that discriminate against women and girls, ensure access to justice and remedies for domestic violence, train public officials, and empower women in the realm of decision-making, education, decent work, social services, financial resources, property and inheritance.

The Council calls for the access of women to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services, and the promotion and protection of their reproductive rights and the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality. It also urges States to support civil society initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and addressing domestic violence, including those undertaken by women’s organizations and women human rights defenders.

This is the first ever UN resolution to use the terms ‘intimate partner violence’ and ‘comprehensive sexuality education’.

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Posted on 2015-06-07
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