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Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms​​ 

Posted on Sep 26, 2022

Theme: Overcoming gender-based barriers to freedom of opinion and expression​​ 

Joint oral statement 

Thank you, Mr. President.  

We welcome this discussion by the Human Rights Council. Worldwide, we have been witnessing a rise in girl-led and youth-led activism that is challenging gender inequality, exclusion and injustice. Every day, courageous girls and young women come together to claim their right to be included in decision-making. 

With the worldwide trend of shrinking civic space, it becomes much harder for girls and young women to express opinions, assemble and associate. In conflict and humanitarian contexts, girls and young women encounter additional security threats as they become easy targets of militarized and extremist groups.  

Girls and young women face a number of specific barriers to enjoying their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, including: 

  • Restrictive social norms related to their gender and age; 
  • Lack of funding available for girl- and youth-led organisations, and the legal and administrative barriers they have to access funding; 
  • Violence and harassment against them, both online and offline. 

For girls and young women facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, such as indigenous girls, those identifying as LGBTQI+, girls with disabilities, sexually abused and exploited girls and victims of trafficking among others, these barriers are even more pronounced.  

In order to address these challenges and ensure that all girls and young women can fully enjoy their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, we call on Member States to: 

  • Ensure that girls and young women can freely and openly participate in debates within this Council, as well as in other UN spaces, removing administrative barriers for them to do so; 
  • Work collaboratively with the newly established United Nations Youth Office to ensure the active and meaningful participation of young women; 
  • Provide flexible multi-year funding to girl- and young women-led groups; 
  • Strengthen and enforce all national laws and policies targeted at ending violence and discrimination against girls and young women as human rights defenders, whether in the private, public or digital spaces. 

Thank you.