HRC 41 In Review

From the 24 June to 12 July  2019, CAL participated in the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) through its membership of the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI). CAL had a delegation of 2 staff members who were able to attend the entire session.  

Through our membership of the SRI we engaged throughout the council by:

  • Preparing and delivering statements     
  • Engaging with state representatives to suggest progressive SRHR language in resolutions
  • Hosting and presenting on panels of side events     
  • Engaging with other civil society groups to strengthen networks and combine advocacy efforts


This session CAL focused on the following resolutions:

  • Discrmination against Women and Girls 
  • Violence against Women
  • Child and early Forced Marriage 
  • Renewal of the SOGIE-IE Mandate

Elimination of discrimination against Women and Girls 

This resolution addresses three main issues:

  1. Deprivation of women’s and girls’ liberty
  2. Renewing the mandate of the Working Group on elimination of discrimination against women and expanding the mandate to include girls
  3. Requesting the Human Rights Advisory Council to prepare a report on women’s representation in human rights mechanisms

The key outcomes of this resolution were:

  • Recognition of the rights to sexual and reproductive health
  • Full respect for the dignity, integrity and bodily autonomy of the person
  • Reaffirming the human rights of women and girls to have control over and decide freely on matters related to their sexuality
  • Guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health, services and evidence-based information and education including safe abortion where not against national law
  • Universal access to comprehensive sexuality education.

Click here to read the full resolution

Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: preventing and responding to violence against women and girls in the world of work

The key outcomes of this resolution were:

  • Reaffirms that human rights include the right to have control over and to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to sexuality and to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health free from coercion, discrimination and violence, including full respect for dignity, integrity and bodily autonomy;
  • Implementing comprehensive sexuality education that includes consent and sexual harassment;
  • Promoting and protecting sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights (without qualifiers)
  • Strengthening health systems that make quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care services, information and education universally accessible and available, including, inter alia, emergency contraception and obstetric care, post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection and safe abortion where not against national law;
  • Recognition that domestic violence is not a private family matter

Click here to read the full resolution

Consequences of child, early and forced marriage

Key sexual and reproductive rights language achievements:

  • Recognition of women and girl’s rights to sexual and reproductive health
  • Urges states to provide universally accessible, acceptable and available quality, gender-responsive, adolescent-friendly health services, sexual and reproductive health-care services, information, education and commodities, HIV and AIDS prevention, testing, treatment and care, mental health services and psychosocial support
  • Recognises intimate partner violence

Click here to read the full resolution

Renewal of SOGIE-IE Mandate

The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert focusing on the protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Side Events 

SRI side event: Intersectionality as politics and practice

This side event explored how intersectionality theory and practice has been used by state and non-state actors within human rights spaces of the United Nations.

Panelists included:

  • E. Tendayi Achiume (UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance)
  • Anthea Taderera (Coalition of African Lesbians)
  • Paola Salwan Daher (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Dr Dipika Nath as the moderator 

Including participation in the panel, CAL also led on the media campaign, that included videos of feminist activists completing the sentence ‘intersectionality is’, to promote the event and encourage debate and discussion for those not able to physically be at the side event. 

Click here to watch the event 

Check out our twitter page to view the videos on ‘Intersectionality is’

CAL’s statements at HRC41

CAL contributed to the drafting of or drafted the following statements that were presented at this session of the HRC:

End of session statement 

CAL, The SRI, The Centre for Reproductive Rights, The Federation for Women and Family planning and a number of other organisations have co-signed a statement speaking to the critical gains made at this session of the HRC. Click here to read it.

Social media reporting

Throughout this session CAL reported on its activities through our Facebook and Twitter social media accounts. See our social media post collection here