Gender lens to the UNGPs

Women (including girls) experience business-related human rights abuses in unique ways and are often affected disproportionately. Women also face multiple forms of discrimination. They experience additional barriers in seeking access to effective remedies for business-related human rights abuses.

Gender references within the guiding principals

The UNGPs acknowledge the importance of gender in several places:

  • The commentary to Principle 3 provides that States should provide appropriate guidance to businesses on “how to consider effectively issues of gender, vulnerability and/or marginalization”.
  • Principle 7 underlines that States should provide adequate assistance to business enterprises operating in conflict affected areas “to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses, paying special attention to both gender-based and sexual violence”.
  • The commentary to Principle 12 states: “Depending on circumstances, business enterprises may need to consider additional standards.”
  • The commentary to Principle 20 underlines that business enterprises “should make particular efforts to track the effectiveness of their responses to impacts on individuals from groups or populations that may be at heightened risk of vulnerability or marginalization”, underlining the importance of “using gender-disaggregated data where relevant”.

Unpacking the gender dimension of the UNGPs

Despite these references to gender in the UNGPs, the business and human rights (BHR) discourse has not so far given adequate attention to the differentiated impacts of business-related human rights abuses on women. Nor has the discourse given enough attention to the unique barriers women face in accessing effective remedies.

Against this background, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights launched in 2017 a thematic project to unpack the gender dimension of the UNGPs.

The project aimed to:

  • Raise sensitivity amongst all stakeholders about the need to adopt a gender lens to implement the UNGPs and in turn mainstream the women issues within the BHR field;
  • Develop guidance to assist both States and business enterprises with practical recommendations for what it means to protect, respect and remedy the rights of women in a business context in line with the UNGPs; and
  • Bring together various agencies, institutions, organizations and actors working in the BHR field to continuously explore ways to empower women who are at-risk or have been adversely affected by business-related human rights abuses.

Report on gender lens to the UNGPs to the HRC

In line with this project, the Working Group presented during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council, on 26 June 2019, the report on the Gender dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The guidance provides practical recommendations for what it means to "protect, respect and remedy" the rights of women in a business context in line with the UNGPs.

Access the illustrated, "user-friendly" booklet of the report on Gender Dimensions of the Guiding Principals on Business and Human Rights.


Numerous consultations as well as multi-stakeholders meetings and conferences, such as the UN Forum, and inputs received from States and other stakeholders informed this report.

Open call for input

Access the inputs received from States and other stakeholders on the report page.


The Working Group convened consultations in different parts of the world from 2017 to 2019 to achieve the project objectives.

The first multi-stakeholder consultation on 30 November 2017 in Geneva brought together several relevant stakeholders engaged with women rights generally or working in the BHR field to brainstorm collectively on how to accomplish the project objectives. [Summary of Geneva consultation]

The Working Group’s Asia consultation was hosted by Ashoka University’s Genpact Centre for Women’s Leadership (GCWL), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific and UN Women, in February 2018 in India. The consultation brought together about 150 participants from more than 30 countries. [Summary of Asia consultation].

The Working Group in collaboration with the OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific hosted a consultation in Suva, Fiji, on 30 April 2018. Apart from UN agencies, CSOs and businesses, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, the Minister for Women, Children & Poverty Alleviation of Fiji, participated in this consultation.

The Working Group’s Africa consultation was held in Nairobi in October 2018. It was co-hosted by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies of University of the Witwatersrand (CALS), Hivos Foundation, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) and the OHCHR. [Summary of Africa consultation]

The Working Group’s Australia consultation was held in Sydney on 14-15 November 2018. It was co-hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Human Rights Institute, and RMIT University’s Centre for People, Organisation and Work (CPOW). [Summary of Australia consultation]

In collaboration with Geneva Academy and the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Working Group organized a multi-stakeholder expert consultation on 31 January and 1 February 2019 in Geneva. The aim of this consultation was to apply input received during various regional consultations to develop gender guidance for each of the 31 Principles of the UNGPs. [Summary of Multi-stakeholder expert consultation]

The Working Group’s Latin America consultation was held in Mexico City on 21-22 February 2019. It was co-hosted by a number of stakeholders including UNICEF, ONUWOMEN, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, among others. [Summary of Latin America Consultation]

Gender roundtable at the 2018 UN Forum

During the 2018 UN Forum, the Working Group organized an interactive roundtable on "Developing a gender lens to business and human rights". A pool of interested stakeholders were divided into small groups to focus on five thematic areas. Access the background briefs here:

Gender roundtable at the 2019 UN Forum

During the 2019 UN Forum, the Working Group organized an interactive roundtable on "Gender Guidance for the UNGPS: From Paper to Practice." During this session, diverse stakeholders showcased, and brainstormed collectively, ways to implement the gender guidance for the UNGPs developed by the Working Group.

Please find the written interventions of panelists during the session:

Working Group on business and human rights
Recent thematic reports
Issues in focus
Contact information

Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Palais des Nations, 8-14, Avenue de la Paix. 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9159

Others Involved