The impact of economic reform policies on women’s human rights

For his 2018 thematic report to the UN General Assembly, 73rd session, the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights has focused on the links and the impact of economic reforms and austerity measures on women’s human rights. The report (A/73/179) is available in all UN languages.

In addition, a user-friendly version of the report was produced by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, and made possible with generous funding from the Open Society Foundations. It summarizes the Independent Expert thematic report on the links and the impact of economic reforms and austerity measures on women’s human rights. The user-friendly version of the report is available in:

English, French and Spanish.

I. Background

Human Rights Council resolution 34/3 (2017) requested the Independent Expert to develop guiding principles for human rights impact assessments for economic reform policies, in consultation with States, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders.

In the course of his research, and in the context of the expert consultations, the Independent Expert has decided to deepen his research by analysing the particular ways in which austerity measures, structural adjustment, fiscal consolidation and in general economic reform programmes have had a disproportionate impact on the life of women of all ages and what to do to address the negative impacts.  

Considered a building block in the process towards the development of guiding principles, this report aimed at identifying gender and human rights arguments that may be crucial to the development of the guiding principles.

The Guiding Principles on human Rights impact assessment of economic reforms were presented to the Human Rights Council on the occasion of its 40th session. Adopted on 21 March 2019, Human Rights Council resolution 40/8, took note with appreciation of the Guiding Principles.

Guiding Principle 8 on “Non-discrimination based on gender and substantive gender equality” specifically provides that economic reforms should prevent any kind of discrimination based on gender, promote transformative gender equality and that human rights impact assessments should always include a comprehensive gender analysis.

II. Call for contributions

This report was informed by a called for contributions, which was circulated at the beginning of 2018. The Independent Expert would like to thank all stakeholders for the submissions received.

Questionnaire in English
Questionnaire in Spanish
Questionnaire in French

Submissions received in response to the call for contributions are available below.

Submissions received:


International Organizations

National Human Rights Institutions

Civil society organisations