Pollution, land grabbing, exploitation of workers, violence against human rights defenders and other misconduct – multinational companies often manage to avoid any consequences for such human rights violations and environmental impacts linked to their activities. For women this can be an even larger problem, especially for those living in poverty and marginalised communities in the Global South.
The adverse human rights impacts of corporate activities are by no means gender neutral. Business activities can lead to gender-specific harms and discrimination, exacerbate existing inequitable gender roles and structures within a community, and create further discrimination based on intersecting identities such as race, class, age, caste, migrant status, sexual orientation, gender identity or geographical location. When seeking redress and remedy, women face additional barriers to justice due to patriarchal norms.
Identifying, addressing and holding companies to account for the adverse gendered impacts of their activities on women needs to be embedded in this emerging due diligence legislation and wider business and human rights policies and strategies, or we risk adopting measures that will leave women behind.
This paper explains why such an approach is needed, and how states and companies can integrate gender- responsive human rights due diligence into existing and emerging efforts in the area of business and human rights.