3 May 2022.
Today, the specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission launched their annual Joint Declaration under the title Freedom of Expression and Gender Justice. The Joint Declaration, which was drafted with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), sets out actions and measures which States and a range of non-State actors should take so as to promote greater gender justice in the area of freedom of expression.
“The 2022 Joint Declaration is really innovative inasmuch as it is the first to address the importance of gender justice in the area of freedom of expression”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “It highlights the fact that barriers to equality are not only a problem in their own right but also for the way they undermine the effective exercise of freedom of expression by women, including in terms of access to information, to the detriment of society as a whole.”
Some of the many specific standards in the Joint Declaration include the following:
- Eliminating discrimination against women and gender non-conforming people requires a “whole of society” approach whereby States, the private sector and civil society work together to remove barriers and to put in place positive measures to promote equality.
- Special measures are needed to promote equal access to information, including to address the gender digital divide and relative paucity of gender-disaggregated data.
- Gender-specific restrictions on freedom of expression, including where they are justified by paternalistic or traditional notions of “public morals”, should be removed.
- States should take specific steps to eliminate gender-based violence, which is increasingly undermining equality in terms of freedom of expression.
- The responsibility of companies to exercise human rights due diligence includes a responsibility on the part of Internet intermediaries to take effective steps in a number of areas to increase women’s freedom of expression online.
The Joint Declaration is available in:
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