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Why we work on women's human rights

Human rights are basic rights that every person on the planet should be entitled to – regardless of their age, gender, race, nationality or any other difference. But many human rights are routinely denied to women and girls.

Why does gender come into human rights?

Deep-seated discriminations and social traditions often set unequal power relations between men and women. And some human rights will be denied to a woman on a daily basis, creating multiple obstacles she must face over and over again in her life.

From being denied the same schooling and education as her male equivalents, to being forced to marry against her will, from facing physical or mental abuse within her home to suffering health complications in childbirth, there are human rights that are routinely denied to an individual, simply because she has been born a girl.


Violence against women exists in virtually every culture in the world. One in three women around the globe will experience it. Whatever form it takes, the underlying cause is always discrimination.

Even in the countries where it's a criminal act, violence against women and girls creeps in to schools, workplaces and homes. If it's trivialised it can be difficult to report, even where systems to report violent crime and protect women's rights exist.

Maternal health

Depending on where you live, being pregnant can be a death sentence. It kills one woman every minute. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

Available healthcare is the strongest factor in determining whether a pregnant women facing birth complications will live or die. In the UK, one women in every 4,700 will die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes; in Sierra Leone, where maternal healthcare is too expensive for most expectant mothers to access it and often not up to standard for those who can afford it, you have a one-in-eight chance of dying from exactly the same health complications.

Women should have the same right as men to choose when they have children,

'to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights'
UN CEDAW Article 16

Despite this right being enshrined in international human rights law, many governments are reluctant to allow women access to the education and services that would enable them to realise this right.

Sexual health

Female genital mutilation. Five girls mutilated every minute.

What are we doing about it?

At Amnesty, we champion the rights of women and girls, and work with women’s organisations to rebalance relations between men and women where discrimination exists.

  • We research and document discrimination around the world
  • We hold authorities to account
  • We try to change attitudes where human rights are denied

Protecting women’s human rights runs through all of our research. We publish gender-specific research and analysis in many of our reports – from our work on the death penalty, to our campaign for a regulated arms trade.