Home » Our impact » Gender equality

Gender equality

The role of human rights education in advancing gender equality

 Because women’s rights are human rights, gender equality is at the heart of Equitas’ work.


Advancing gender equality is central to human rights discourse. Gender equality is both a human rights issue and a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development. Unequal power relations are often an underlying cause of social, economic, political and cultural discrimination that adversely affect women across all societies. Women and girls are more likely to experience poverty, food insecurity, economic violence, and physical or sexual violence.

Human rights education is a powerful tool to increase our capacity to take action for advancing gender equality. For example, human rights education can empower victims of sexual and gender based violence. By providing them with the skills to seek justice through legal mechanisms, human rights education raises broader awareness of systemic violence used against women as a means of oppression and denial of their rights.







In Tanzania for example, where 1 in 2 women experiences some form of violence, our work focuses on promoting inclusion of marginalized individuals and equipping communities to address gender-based violence, as well as violence against children. Through training using a human rights-based approach, we supported civil society organizations in the Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions to undertake community actions to support the Government’s National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children.

Using a human rights-based approach, we integrate gender analysis in all our work and look at the different impacts of gender on people’s opportunities, social roles and interactions. Additionally, a human rights-based approach considers how individuals experience human rights violations in different ways based on gender and intersectionality. We recognize that women and men, girls and boys, or any person who does not ascribe to culturally and socially constructed gender roles, may experience not only discrimination on the grounds of sex, but also because of the compounding effects of race, ethnic and religious identity, disability, age, class, sexual orientation.


Supporting Young Women and Girls in Canada


Through our local programs, Equitas strengthens movements to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Canada. In this past year, 78% of the 3360 youth reached through our Speaking Rights Community Action Projects were young women and girls. For example, Equitas collaborates with Quebec Native Women (QNW), an organization that defends the interests of Indigenous women and confronts issues that have historically and continue to have an impact on Indigenous women’s lives in Canada. QNW provides tools and resources to support young women’s leadership and to create dialogue among youth on important issues such as understanding identity, preventing violence and bullying, confronting discrimination and increasing youth participation in organizational decision making. After a Speaking Rights Training, QNW integrated tools and learning to better understand how young women experience violence and intimidation in their communities and launched a new bullying prevention project based on traditional Indigenous methods of conflict resolution. Equitas also joined a new Advisory Group for the project and continues to collaborate on this initiative. Additionally, as part of a new youth-led initiative and partnership with Equitas, QNW is working to create more equitable spaces through an anti-discrimination policy for their organizations to ensure greater inclusion of LGBTQI/two-spirited Indigenous peoples in communities across Quebec.



” By offering a secure space where members of the LGBTQI/two-spirited community could share their experiences and examples of best practices, we became a driving force for change in public opinion and within the Aboriginal community regarding sexual minorities. Through the promotion of environments that are more inclusive and secure, we will better insure the security, integrity and
dignity of all our people. “

– Program Manager, Quebec Native Women


Advancing the Rights of LGBTQI Persons through Human Rights Education


Promoting gender equality through human rights education also means changing discriminatory cultural practices and behaviours related to sexual orientation and gender identity. In Haiti, stigma, discrimination, exclusion and violence against LGBTQI persons is a systemic and widespread phenomenon. Our work with local partners there strengthens the movement against homophobia and aims to create a social and political environment conducive to respect for diversity and the protection and promotion of the rights of the LGBTQI community. Through a National Training Program which brought together 26 participants, and local initiatives in 7 different communities, we facilitated the development of alliances between the LGBTQI community, civil society organizations and state institutions for the protection of the rights of LGBTQI persons.

“On a personal level, the project allowed me to develop tolerance and value diversity. As a police officer, I believe in human rights and I am much more aware of these issues now. I already held this awareness towards other groups, but now I generalize the importance of it to all groups. “

– Police officer and participant of the National Training on the Rights of LGBTQI Persons in Haiti





9 ways Equitas advances gender equality through our programming and in our organizational practices (and how you can too!)


Terminology affects how we view the world, so using masculine pronouns by default reinforces socio-cultural gender divisions. Equitas created a Gender and Sexual Identity Lexicon, as well as a User Guide for Inclusive Language to standardize use of gender inclusive language within projects and programs and to ensure our communications reflect our worldview.



At the inception phase of each of our programs, we conduct a baseline analysis to better understand which barriers prevent women, girls and other marginalized groups from fully participating in their communities. To address these barriers, we strive for equal representation of women and men in program activities, while ensuring that women’s specific needs are being taken into account in decision making and project design.



The persistence and prevalence of discrimination and sexism in the daily lives of women is undeniable. Many women are victims of the cross-cutting effects of discrimination, based on their race, ethnic and religious identity, disability, age, class, and/or sexual orientation. Working to advance gender equality, we always consider intersectionality and ensure the most marginalized can fully participate in our programs.



Too often, women speak exclusively with other women about the inequalities they face, and in general, men speak about it far too little. Internally, we conduct staffwide discussions and training and develop tools to better integrate gender equality into our work, such as implementing our Gender Equality Action Plan and Gender Policy. Through our programs, we integrate gender equality as a central component in community mobilization and policy dialogues and include not only women but also men in discussions about gender inequality.



Women often miss out on opportunities for many reasons, such as systemic barriers leading to exclusion and marginalization, and internalized socially constructed barriers. To change this, the community initiatives carried out by our project partners focus on increasing political participation of women, promoting spaces for them to participate in activities traditionally reserved for men, increasing access to education for girls and giving visibility to initiatives conducted by women in the community.

What they say

Thiès, Senegal

“The discussions we had made me realize the tremendous mobilization of the various stakeholders to promote a greater empowerment of the women and girls in this community. ‘’
Christine St-Pierre, Quebec Minister of International Relations and the Francophonie during her visit of our projects on the participation of women and girls in Senegal (March 2016).

Montreal, Canada

“The [girls] learned a lot about different issues, like hypersexualization, sexism, egalitarian relationships, sexual exploitation, women’s rights. They developed critical thinking and analysis skills regarding these phenomena and then they became agents of change.”
Youth worker, Montreal, Canada on the Equitas Speaking Rights program (June 2016).


Learn more

Explore our work that focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women and young girls in Canada, Senegal, Tanzania, Colombia, Haiti, The Middle-East and North Africa.    

SUPPORT our human rights education efforts for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Canada and worldwide.

Give individuals like Soraya G. in Colombia and Esmeralda Pierre-Jérôme in Haiti the tools they need to take on a leadership role in defending and promoting gender equality in their communities.

Support our projects in Canada equipping young women and girls to be leaders today and tomorrow.

We can do it together. Donate now.

Font size - Taille de la police
Contrast - Contraste