On 27 April 2015 OxHRH Director, Professor Sandra Fredman and OxHRH Deputy Directors, Meghan Campbell and Laura Hilly attended the launch of UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016 Report ‘Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights’ in London.

The Report was launched by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. The launch was followed by a panel discussion including Laura Turquet, Progress of the World’s Women Report Manager; Andrea Cornwall, Director of Pathways of Women’s Empowerment at the University of Sussex and Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladeshi Centre for Workers Solidarity, around the 10 key themes of the Report identified as priorities for public action:

  • Create more and better jobs for women
  • Reduce occupational segregation and gender pay gaps
  • Strengthening women’s income security throughout the life cycle
  • Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work
  • Invest in gender-responsive social services
  • Maximise resources for the achievement of substantive equality
  • Support women’s organisations to claim rights and shape policy agendas at all levels
  • Create an enabling global environment for the realisation of women’s rights
  • use human rights standards to shape policies and catalyse change
  • Generate evidence to assess progress on women’s economic and social rights.

The Report draws significantly on a background paper prepared by Professor Sandra Fredman and Associate Professor Beth Goldblatt, with the assistance of Meghan Campbell. In particular, chapter 1 of the Report uses the multi-dimensional approach to substantive equality developed in Fredman’s previous work, and elaborated in the background paper by Fredman and Goldblatt, to establish a framework of substantive equality in human rights. The Report emphasised that a key challenge around the world in the realisation of women’s rights is transforming formal rights into reality to enable women’s practical enjoyment of their human rights. Fredman and Goldblatt’s paper shows how the substantive equality framework developed in Fredman’s earlier work, derived from human rights treaties as well as the work of the treaty bodies, supports governments and other key actors to make this change happen. The framework identifies three interconnected dimensions along which actions need to be taken in order to transform existing structures and institutions so that all women are able to enjoy their rights: redressing women’s socio-economic disadvantage; addressing stereotyping, stigma and violence; and strengthening women’s agency, voice and participation; resulting in a transformation of institutions and structures.

Fredman and Goldblatt’s background paper, and several other of their academic works, are cited frequently throughout the Report.

Professor Fredman attended the launch and discussed her contribution with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, saying how ‘delighted she was that her academic work was able to have such a substantial impact on this crucial report that has real potential to shape the global agenda and transform economic and social opportunities for women and girls around the world’.

You can read Fredman and Goldblatt’s background paper here, and a full copy of the Report here.