Saturday, September 17, 2016


In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights was held in Vienna. It sought to review the status of the human rights machinery in place at the time. Women’s rights activists mobilized to ensure that women’s human rights were fully on the agenda of the international community under the rallying cry “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” Particularly around the issue of violence against women, civil society activists organized tribunals to put the spotlight on violations of women’s rights, previously unaddressed because they were considered part of the private sphere, taboo or simply accepted as an inevitable part of women’s lives. The Conference was successful in adopting the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which stated that “the human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights” (para. 18) and placed particularly heavy emphasis on eliminating all forms of gender-based violence. Importantly, the Programme of Action also called for “the eradication of any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism” (para. 38).

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