Gender and Human Rights (Foundation Course)

6 March-16 April 2019 (E05119) | Register for this course (opens in new window)
Instructor: Frank Elbers

Gender equality has become a generally accepted refrain and gained secure positioning within international approaches to, and discourse on, development and human rights. However, it took decades of advocacy for gendered diversities to become effectively acknowledged as relevant to the international human rights system. In this process, the recognition that “women’s rights are human rights” played a central role.

In response, legal and normative instruments have been introduced to address the marginalisation of women and girls, such as the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA). Increasingly, other issues relevant to gender equality are gaining attention, for instance those pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity and the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality. International policies and strategies such as gender mainstreaming have been developed to advance the achievement of gender equality in practice. Significant steps continue to be taken to build a human rights system that recognises the need for gender equality and diversity to be inherent to approaches for securing human rights for all.

This e-learning course provides a general introduction to the evolution of the concept of gender equality within the international human rights system. It provides a foundational understanding of the centrality of gender equality to human rights discourse generally and how this is addressed within the UN human rights system specifically. Participants will gain an overview of the various legal and normative frameworks that promote women’s rights, address gender identities, and advance practical approaches to securing gender equality. The course will also examine critical concepts such as intersectionality and cultural relativism as they relate to the enforcement of existing international approaches to advancing gender equality and human rights.

Course structure

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, discussion, webinars and quizzes, and is offered over a six-week period. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required readings, prepare interim and final assignments and participate in group discussions. Case studies will be used to enable interactive learning and activities. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Origins and evolution of gender equality and its links to human rights Week 2: International normative and legal framework for gender equality and human rights Week 3: Gender-based violence as a human rights issue Week 4: Gender and identity, sexual orientation and human rights Week 5: Critiques of the “gender and human rights” agenda, cultural relativism; the example of reproductive rights Week 6: Advancing gender equality – overview of key tools and approaches

About the instructor: Frank Elbers

Frank ElbersFrank Elbers is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at Lebanese American University in Beirut. He has more than 25 years of experience in development and human rights in post-communist Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and West Africa. From 1998-2016 he was the Director of Programmes and Executive Director of Human Rights Education Associates (HREA). Before he joined HREA he worked as a Program Officer in rule of law programs for the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Program Officer West Africa for SATELLIFE. He has been an instructor and trainer for courses and workshops on human rights-based programming, monitoring children's rights and monitoring women's human rights. Frank has also served as a gender consultant for Education Development Center (EDC) and for UNIFEM on strategies for violence against women, implementation of CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women), and the Beijing +5 review process. He is the instructor of HREA's Gender Mainstreaming (Gender Equality-Advanced Course). Mr. Elbers holds an MA in political science from the University of Amsterdam.

Who should apply

The course is intended for staff of inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, (under)graduate students, humanitarian practitioners, gender focal points and others interested in gender equality. Participants should have a good written command of English -- the working language of the course -- and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: € 345 (after 21 December 2018: € 405); tuition for auditors€ 135 (after 21 December 2018: € 155). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal and bank transfer. Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Register for this course (opens in new window).

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