ABColombia is among the contributors to this report which highlights the importance of State and corporate responsibility to respect and actively protect Women and girls’ rights. The recommendations strongly encourage the UK government to identify and implement gender-sensitive legislations such as due-diligence policies to address the specific risks women are exposed to as a result of UK business activities. Ultimately, the NAP revision should include not only accurate policies but also provide remedies through formal and informal justice systems to ensure redress for victims and prevent abuses.
With the 2013 National Action Plan (NAP), the UK becomes the first country to incorporate the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in its national legal framework.
Considering the increasing risks corporate activities represent for Women and girls, addressing Gender-based discriminations should top the NAP’s agenda.
This report by CORE and GADN explores how the revised NAP on Business and Human Rights can become a main instrument for the promotion and enforcement of Women’s rights.
Why the UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights must integrate and prioritise gender equality and women’s human rights
Violations of women’s and girls’ human rights caused by entrenched gender-based discrimination occur in every country in the world, cutting across economic, social, environmental, political and cultural spheres, from local to global levels. As such, business activities and operations, as well as the trade and investment policies that facilitate them, create heightened risks to women’s rights and impact upon women in gender-specific ways, whether as workers, community members or human rights defenders. Women living in developing countries who are poor are particularly at risk to adverse impacts of business activities. These risks and impacts are enhanced further still when gender intersects with other forms of identity-based discrimination, such as age, ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation, and migrant and HIV and AIDS status.
The review of the UK’s National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)1 offers a critical opportunity for the UK Government to fully integrate and prioritise gender equality and women’s rights to reflect the prevailing context of gender inequality, which is largely missing from its current NAP. The NAP should serve as a framework to significantly strengthen policy coherence between government commitments on women’s rights, the business and human rights agenda, and its rapidly expanding focus on promoting the role of the private sector in development.
Vitally, it would help ensure that the UK companies operating and sourcing from overseas, as well as the wider trade and investment environment, go beyond ‘do no harm’ to actively contribute towards the fulfilment of women’s human rights. This requires strong regulatory frameworks, combined with gender sensitive human rights due diligence, and steps to ensure the increased barriers women face in accessing justice are addressed. 2
This opportunity should not be missed. Not only is urgent further action needed to end women’s rights violations linked to corporate practices, but businesses are demanding specific, coherent and clear regulatory frameworks and guidelines from governments on their corporate responsibility to respect human rights in order to ensure a more level playing field.
This paper by the GADN’s Women’s Economic Justice Group (WEJ), endorsed by the CORE Coalition, details how women are particularly at risk of corporate related human rights violations and face additional barriers to accessing remedy. It offers recommendations to the UK Government for strengthening the revised NAP in order to help urgently redress these issues.