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Breaking Barriers for Women: Applying an Intersectional Lens to Human Rights Due Diligence in Supply Chain

DAY 2 21 March
16:45-18:00 GMT+5:45

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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more resilient and responsible supply chains. In this context, there is a growing recognition of the importance of integrating an intersectional consideration into supply chain due diligence processes. UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights’ Gender guidance, “Gender Dimensions of the UNGPs”, guides States and businesses on integrating a gender perspective to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNNGPs). Moreover, National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) and emerging laws on Human Rights Due Diligence represent an unrealized potential to incorporate gender responsiveness into the implementation of the UNGPs.


Women workers often experience multiple forms of discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, caste, class, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. These different forms of discrimination can intersect and reinforce each other, creating unique challenges and barriers for women workers. 


For example, women who belong to marginalized groups may face discrimination not only based on their gender but also based on their race, ethnicity, or caste. This can lead to lower wages, limited access to education and training, and fewer opportunities for advancement within the workplace. Additionally, women from minority or marginalized groups may be subjected to greater harassment, abuse, and exploitation inside and outside the workplace.


The exploitation of women workers is often exacerbated by the lack of effective human rights due diligence in supply chains. Human rights due diligence is the process by which companies identify, prevent, and mitigate actual or potential adverse impacts in their supply chains. When companies do not prioritize the rights and well-being of women workers, they may fail to identify and address the multiple forms of discrimination that these workers face. This can perpetuate a cycle of exploitation, abuse, and poverty, further reinforcing gender inequality and other forms of discrimination.


It is essential to recognize that multiple forms of discrimination can lead to the exploitation of women workers and that a comprehensive approach to human rights due diligence is necessary to address these issues. This includes an intersectional lens that considers the specific experiences and challenges women workers from diverse backgrounds face.


Session Description 


This session will provide a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences on applying an intersectional approach to human rights due diligence in the supply chain. The session seeks to raise awareness about the importance of identifying and addressing the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequality in supply chains into due diligence processes and inspire action towards more gender-responsive and resilient supply chains. The panellists will share some of the tools and guidance available to integrate gender-responsive in the HRDD.


Session Objectives 


The session explores the opportunities and challenges of gender-responsive due diligence in the supply chain and shares best practices and lessons learned from various sectors and regions. In particular, the session aims to:

  • Critically analyze the current human rights due diligence processes and tools through a gender lens.

  • Increase understanding of the risks in the supply chains chain in the absence/lack of an intersectional approach while conducting due diligence;

  • Share best practices and lessons learned in applying an intersectional approach to due diligence;

  • Discuss the role of companies, governments, civil society, and other stakeholders in promoting intersectional human rights due diligence;

  • The potential for intersectional human rights due diligence in contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, and advancing gender equality, racial justice, and decent work.


Panellists will reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the elements of gender-responsive human rights due diligence?

  • Analyzing through an intersectional lens, what do you think lacks in current HRDD processes and tools?

  • How can we ensure gender-responsive human rights due diligence?

  • What are some of the tools and guidance available to integrate gender-responsive human rights due diligence?


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