Equality between men and women and freedom of religion – SR on freedom of religion or belief
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, provides an overview of his mandated activities since the submission of the previous report to the General Assembly (A/67/303), including his country visits, communications and other activities.
In the face of complicated conflicts in the interplay of freedom of religion or belief and equality between men and women, the Special Rapporteur has decided to focus the present report on the relationship between those two human rights, with the purpose of contributing to a systematic clarification. Existing conflicts in this area should always be addressed with empirical and normative precision. Without in any sense denying the reality of conflicting human rights concerns in the intersection of freedom of religion or belief and equality between men and women, the Special Rapporteur would like to point out that it remains important not to turn concrete conflicts between human rights issues into an abstract antagonism on the normative level itself.
Unfortunately, the impression that freedom of religion or belief and equality between men and women allegedly constitute two essentially contradictory human rights norms seems to be widely shared. This can cause serious protection gaps. For instance, efforts to explore and create synergies between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality are sometimes ignored or even openly discouraged. Moreover, the abstractly antagonistic misconstruction of the relationship between freedom of religion or belief and equality between men and women fails to do justice to the life situation of many millions of individuals whose specific needs, wishes, claims, experiences and vulnerabilities fall into the intersection of both human rights, a problem disproportionately affecting women from religious minorities.
The Special Rapporteur therefore emphasizes the significance of upholding a holistic perspective in conformity with the formula coined at the World Conference on Human Rights that “[a]ll human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated”. Based on this holistic perspective, which deserves to be defended even in complicated and tense situations, he formulates a number of practical recommendations addressed to States and other stakeholders.Download PDF