#HRC41 – ARROW’s statement on Discrimination Against Women

June 28, 2019 noor 1

Clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and the Working Group on business and human rights


Speaker: Ms. Noor Imran

I am making this statement on behalf of the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Rutgers, Hivos and the Right Here Right Now consortium.

We agree with the working group that deprivation of women’s liberty have common underlying causes. Chiefly among these is the persistence of patriarchal system which shape gender stereotypes and forms discrimination that normalise them. In order to achieve gender equality and empower  women and girls they must have equal say and position within their homes, communities and countries.

While we agree with the working group that women’s and girl’s deprivation of liberty can be understood as confinement of the body, there remains a need to recognise that government laws and policies embedded with religious doctrines have profound effects on people’s perceptions of and attitudes[1] towards women and girls’ position within society and especially on their ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Further, the lack of control over property and inheritance is perpetuated not just through lack of civil laws but also caused by parallel religious laws and customary practices that can work against women’s and girl’s entitlements.[2] Laws and customs that are influenced by culture and religion can reinforce systemic inequalities. On the other hand, access to property can increase income earning potential, food security, water, and also improve the power dynamics of women within the household.[3] This in turn can help women and girls have better ability to access to sexual and reproductive services, control over her body and protection against violence.[4]

We urge Member States to adopt a rights-based approach when conceptualising policies on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights and ensure that the influence of religion on these services is addressed. In order to fully protect women’s and girls right to liberty, religious and cultural norms that place the social ‘duty’ or responsibility of reproduction on women and girls and that perpetuate control of their bodies and sexualities must be challenged. This must include combating  impunity towards customary norms and practices through protective legal measures.


[1] Vagisha Gunasekera, 2017. Battling Barriers: Religion and Women’s Right to Contraception Services and Information, ARROW Thematic Papers

[2] Azra Abdul Cader, Dhivya Kanagasingam, Sai Jyothir Mai Racherla, 2017, SDG Alternative Report: Girls and the Sustainable Development Goals in Selected Countries in the Asia-Pacific Region.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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