HRC36 | There must be meaningful and genuine participation of women defenders in UN mechanisms


ISHR welcomes calls by States and civil society for a human rights based-approach in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and in the Universal Periodic Review process, stressing that elevated involvement of women human rights defenders is needed in all UN processes.

In a statement delivered at the annual discussion on integration of a gender perspective, ISHR and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership welcomed the panelists’ remarks and reiterated the need for a human rights approach when implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

’It is crucial that no groups are left out of the UPR and SDGs processes - rights holders must be able to actively participate in the processes’, said Pooja Patel, ISHR’s Programme Manager for women and LGBTI rights defenders.

Despite current advances in gender equality, no country has yet achieved full gender equality. ‘The leadership and involvement of women human rights defenders in developing analysis and implementation strategies must be elevated,’ the two organisations said. They stressed that States are required to ensure ‘meaningful, genuine and safe participation of women human rights defenders including in ongoing advocacy, drafting national reports, and creating participatory spaces for engagement at the national and international level.’

During the discussion, many States and NGOs recognised the importance of the UPR in implementing the SDGs. In that sense, Belgium (speaking on behalf of BENELUX), Switzerland (speaking on behalf of a group of countries), Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Terre des hommes Fédération Internationale and CIVICUS stressed that gender equality can be achieved through the UPR mechanism and the 2030 Agenda.

The UPR is a crucial opportunity to support efforts in achieving gender equality and provides a platform for dialogue, advocacy and accountability.

In the process of implementing the SDGs, it is vital that linkages exist between them and human rights, said Salma Nims, Secretary General of the Commission for Women in Jordan. ‘They are mutually reinforcing', Nims continued.

According to Nims, ‘in the past 2 cycles of the UPR, more than 50% of the recommendations were related to specific SDG targets. This shows how the SDGs have shifted into the human rights agenda’.

Incorporating a rights based approach ‘includes safeguarding bodily autonomy, ending violence against women, and respecting, protecting and fulfilling sexual and reproductive rights’ said ISHR Program Manager Pooja Patel. ‘No one should suffer reprisals for engaging in SDG, UPR or other UN processes’.

Contact: Pooja Patel, p.patel@ishr.

Photo: mathiaswasik


  • Human rights defenders
  • United Nations
  • Women's rights and WHRD
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Universal Periodic Review