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Declaration of Human Rights from a Gender Perspective

Contribution to the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Document No. E/CN.4/1998/NGO/3, Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations, Geneva


In December 1998, the United Nations will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Knowing the great significance of this event, CLADEM (The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Womenís Rights), along with other regional and international organizations, has developed a proposal aimed for adoption by the Member States of the United Nations. The year 1998 is the occasion for States to renew their commitment to human rights and to incorporate perspectives regarding gender and ethnicity that have gained prominence since the adoption of the Universal Declaration fifty years ago. In the same way that the 1948 Declaration has constituted an ethical code for the second half of the Twentieth Century, we consider it necessary today, on the threshold of the new millennium, that States approve another document aimed at the international protection of human rights, in order to integrate advances in human rights thinking and experience since 1948, without invalidating in any way the achievements of the Universal Declaration.


CONSIDERING that the contemporary formulation of human rights emerged within a historical context in which the concept of the human being was by and large limited to that of a male, Western, white, adult, heterosexual and owner of assets,

CONCERNED that because of this limited conception of the human being, the rights of women, indigenous people, homosexuals and lesbians, children, the elderly, disabled people and other groups have been restricted,

CONVINCED that a holistic and inclusive concept of humanity is necessary for the full realization of human rights,

REAFFIRMING the indivisibility, universality and interdependence of human rights,

BELIEVING that, in the present context of mounting poverty, inequality and violence, it is crucial to strengthen and guarantee the full validity and interconnectedness of environmental, reproductive, economic, social and cultural rights,

STRESSING that the following Declaration in no way reduces the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nor of any other international human rights instrument, and that it does not authorize activities contrary to the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of States,

WE THEREFORE SUBMIT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT ITS 53RD SESSION the present draft declaration for its consideration in the elaboration of a Declaration for the 21st century.


Article 1

1. All women and men are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

2. Every individual has the right to enjoy all human rights, with no distinction based on race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, economic position, birth or any other condition.

Article 2

1. All human beings have the right to their own identity as individuals, as members of groups with which they identify, as members of a nation and as citizens of the world, with the degree of autonomy and self-determination in all these spheres necessary to preserve their dignity and sense of self-worth. This right to identity shall not be negatively affected by marriage.

2. Slavery, servitude, and the traffic of women, girls and boys in any form, including those which take place within family relationships, are prohibited.

Article 3

1. All human beings have the right to equal and equitable participation in labor, political and social organizations, as well as access to elective and non-elective public posts.

2. All States shall eliminate obstacles to the full and equal enjoyment of citizenship rights by women. In particular, women shall be able to acquire citizenship without discrimination and to exercise the same rights as men to participate in all spheres of public and political life of the nation.

Article 4

1. All human beings have the right to express ethnic-racial diversity free from prejudices based on cultural, linguistic, geographic, religious and racial discrimination.

2. All human beings have the right to protection against ethnocide and genocide.

Article 5

1. Indigenous Peoples have the right to autonomy and self-determination and to the maintenance of their traditional political, legal, educational, social and economic structures and ways of life.

2. Indigenous Peoples have the right to the maintenance of commercial and cultural relations and communications across national borders.

3. Indigenous Peoples have the individual and collective right to participate in the decision-making process of their local and national governments.

Article 6

People belonging to ethnic, racial, religious or linguistic minorities have the right to establish their own associations, to practice their own religion and use their own language.


Article 7

All persons have the right to a violence-free life and the enjoyment of peace in both the public and private spheres. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. All forms of violence against women constitute a violation of their human rights. Violence shall not be used to deny people their right to housing, in particular through forced evictions.

Article 8

1. Migrants, displaced persons or refugees, and persons disadvantaged because of gender, race, class, ethnic origin, age, convictions or any other condition, have the right to specific protective measures against violence.

2. All human beings have the right to live free from armed conflict.

3. Acts of a particularly egregious character perpetrated against women and children in situations of armed conflict, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancies, constitute crimes against humanity.

Article 9

1. Every citizen has the right to a national budget aimed at sustainable human development and the promotion of peace by their governments, including measures towards the reduction of military expenditure, the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, the reduction of armaments to the strict needs of national security, and the reassignment of these funds towards development.

2. Women and representatives of disadvantaged groups have the right to participate in the process of decision making in the field of national security and in conflict resolution.


Article 10

All human beings have the right to autonomy and self-determination in the exercise of their sexuality, which includes the right to physical, sexual and emotional pleasure, the right to freedom in sexual orientation, the right to information and education on sexuality, and the right to sexual and reproductive health care for the maintenance of physical, mental and social well-being.

Article 11

1. Women and men have the right to decide on their reproductive life in a free and informed manner and to exercise the voluntary and safe control of their fertility, free from discrimination, coercion or violence, as well as the right to enjoy the highest levels of sexual and reproductive health.

2. Women have the right to reproductive autonomy which includes access to safe and legal abortions.


Article 12

1. All human beings have the right to enjoy the benefits of sustainable human development, in accordance with the Declaration on the Right to Development.

2. Decisions regarding national priorities and allocation of resources shall reflect the nationís commitment to the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights, including physical and mental health, education, freedom from poverty, adequate housing, food security, equal and equitable access to land, credit, technology, clean running water and energy.

Article 13

Every woman and man has the right and responsibility to raise and educate their children, to carry out housework and to provide for the needs of the family, including after separation or divorce.

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to gainful employment; the free choice of work; protection against unemployment; safe, equitable and satisfactory working conditions; and an adequate standard of living.

2. Everyone has the right to enjoy the same opportunities and treatment in relation to: access to services of vocational training and employment; job security; remuneration for work of equal value; social security; and other social benefits, including rest and leisure.


Article 15

Transgenerational responsibility, gender equality, solidarity, peace, respect for human rights and cooperation among States are the basis for the achievement of sustainable development and the conservation of the environment.

Article 16

1. All women and men have the right to a sustainable environment and level of development adequate for their well-being and dignity.

2. All women and men have the right to access technologies sensitive to biological diversity, essential ecological processes and life conservation systems in industry, agriculture, fishing and pasturing.

Article 17

1. All persons have the right to participate actively in local, national and international environmental management and education.

2. The environmental policies shall aim to:

a) Provide consumers with suitable information, comprehensible to persons of all ages, linguistic origins, and degrees of literacy.

b) Promote the elimination of chemical products and pesticides which are toxic and dangerous for the environment, reducing health risks that affect people both at home and at work, in urban and rural areas.

c) Foster the manufacturing of products that are sensitive to and respectful of the environment and that apply non-polluting technologies.

d) Support the recovery of eroded and deforested lands, of harmed hydrographic basins and of polluted water supply systems.

CLADEM, Oficina Regional, A.P. 11-0470, Lima, Peru, Tel. (51 1) 463-9237, Fax (51 1) 463-5898

For more information, please contact PDHRE:
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education, 526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325; e-mail: pdhre@igc.org