Women’s Rights

When a woman owns her human rights, she can change the world for herself and the people around her.

For three decades, we have centred our work on the fact that human development cannot evolve if 51% of the world’s population face persistent discrimination. IWDA advances the global goal of gender equality by focussing on women’s rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 states “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Even so, nearly 70 years later no country in the world has achieved gender equality.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both adopted in 1966, spell out the principles of the Declaration in international law. Members of the United Nations that accept these covenants must ensure that women and men can equally enjoy all the rights they outline.

From the time it was established in 1946, the UN Commission on the Status of Women worked to spell out what these responsibilities mean in practice.  Concern that the existing human rights frameworks were not leading to comprehensive action towards women’s rights led to the development of a specific Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Adopted unanimously in 1979, this spells out what countries need to do to end discrimination against women.

These international instruments provide a framework for IWDA’s work. Our road map to women’s rights is the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Beijing Platform for Action, adopted unanimously by 189 countries at the fourth UN World Conference on Women in 1995, was a visionary agenda. IWDA’s program partnerships help to advance most of the 12 areas of action in the Beijing Platform.

Our key themes




In addition to our program partnerships, we engage broadly as members of global networks, research partnerships and coalitions. By linking our program partnerships with research and advocacy initiatives, we create space for women’s voices to be heard and amplified.

IWDA works to show and measure positive change for women’s rights. The structural change we aim for is intergenerational. In other words, we address issues with a long-term view. Over 30 years of experience, we’ve built long-term partnerships with other women’s agencies across Asia Pacific. These partnerships strengthen our approaches, because local knowledge brings long-term solutions. As active participants in the global movement for gender equality, we bring our deep experience advancing women’s rights in Asia Pacific to regional and global stages.