Advocacy statements

Statement highlighting coordinated attack on gender equality and reproductive rights at UN

  • Date / 2022
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


International Humanist and Ethical Union

50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (13 June 2022 to 08 July 2022)

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health


Mr President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur for her excellent report, which eloquently outlines common root causes of gender-based violence, including widespread patriarchal, racist and oppressive systems, colonial legacies, and inequalities.

We support her emphasis on adopting a non-binary approach. As she says, this is not only necessary in terms of achieving inclusivity and substantive equality, but it is also in line with current international legal standards.

These standards however, are under threat from a global coordinated attack on gender equality. An attack that is evident here at the UN; whether from states refusing to support resolutions containing gender neutral terms or the word “gender” itself, or those condemning defending LGBTI+ equality as a form of “ideological colonialism.”[1]

As recognised in a European Parliament resolution this month,[2] this pushback also specifically seeks to undermine and violate women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. Accordingly, we are grateful to the Special Rapporteur for highlighting that violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights have been established as constituting clear forms of violence.

Indeed, a woman sentenced to 30 years in prison for having a miscarriage (as happened in El Salvador last month)[3], a woman dying because doctors refuse to perform an abortion (as happened in Poland earlier this year),[4] or pregnant rape survivors currently fleeing Ukraine being unable to access emergency contraception or abortion due to draconian laws in transit and host countries,[5] is nothing less than the manifestation of institutionalized violence and state cruelty in their strongest forms.

We thank the Special Rapporteur for her comprehensive recommendations and call on states to implement them with urgency.

Thank you.


[1] https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/03/vatican-official-warns-u-n-hostility-toward-religion

[2] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2022-0243_EN.html

[3] https://ticotimes.net/2022/05/16/woman-in-el-salvador-faces-30-years-in-prison-for-abortion

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/26/poland-death-of-woman-refused-abortion

[5] https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/EUR0153632022ENGLISH.pdf, https://impakter.com/poland-anti-abortion-laws-obstruct-humanitarian-assistance-to-ukrainian-pregnant-refugees-and-rape-survivors/, https://reproductiverights.org/women-and-girls-escaping-ukraine-and-trapped-there-must-be-provided-with-abortions-and-contraception/

Suggested academic reference

'Statement highlighting coordinated attack on gender equality and reproductive rights at UN', Humanists International

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