“By placing women´s concerns and aspirations within a human rights paradigm, we have made an undeniable proposition: that women are human and that, on that basis, they claim and are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms inherent in all humanity” –Florence Butegwa, “women 2000: A Symposium on Future directions for Women´s Human Rights”, New York, June 2000.
The Human rights based approach is a key component in fighting violence against women. The human rights framework asserts that women are entitled to the protection, promotion and fulfilment of their human rights as being the one half of humanity. The framework provides a language and the tools to define, analyze, and articulate women´s experiences of violations and to demand redress in ways already recognized by the international community. The framework has been used by non-governmental organizations at the local, national, regional and international levels to strengthen their work against sexual gender based violence. The strategy can be described in seven principles:
- Dignity: The core basis of human rights is the protection and promotion of human dignity.
- Universality: The universal nature of human rights does not mean that they are experienced in the same manner for all people. Universality means that governments and communities should uphold certain moral and ethical values that cut across all regions of the world.
- Equality and non-discrimination: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human rights documents afford the same rights and responsibilities equally to all women and men, all girls and boys, by virtue of their humanity regardless of any role or relationship they may have. When violations against women are not recognized as human rights abuses, women are collectively diminished as human beings and denied their inherent personhood.
- Indivisibility: Women’s rights should be addressed as an indivisible body, including political, social, economic, cultural and collective rights. These cannot be “prioritized” or divided into “generations” of rights, some of which should be achieved before others.
- Interconnectedness: Human rights concerns appear in all spheres of life – home, school, workplace, elections, court, etc. Violations of human rights are interconnected; loss of human rights in one area may mean loss in another. At the same time, promotion of human rights in one area supports other human rights.
- Government responsibility: Human rights are not gifts bestowed at the pleasure of governments. Nor should governments withhold them or apply them to some people, but not to others. When they do so, they must be held accountable
- Private responsibility: Governments are not the only perpetrators of human rights violations against women. Corporations and private individuals should also be held accountable; cultural mores and social traditions that subordinate women should be challenged.
The world is still not a place where women are protected from violence, but with these seven principle gives you a language to use when fighting for women´s rights to enjoy the same fundamental freedoms as the rest of the humanity. Lastly remember that there are international human rights treaties and declarations created by the United Nations that gives states the obligation to take actions against sexual gender based violence.
Tomorrow is the international human rights day and the conclusion of 16 days of activism. But the fight against violence against women shall go beyond only 16 days of activism, even if you are not working at a non-governmental organization or doesn´t have much knowledge about human rights you can still use these seven principles when discussing the issue of violence against women around the kitchen table or at a party.
We ask of you to celebrate the international human rights day by remembering that human rights isn´t about being a man or a women or the color of your skin. You are entitled human rights on the basis that you are a human without any distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, simply because they are human.