Priority Areas

Supporting, resourcing and strengthening women's rights movements globally

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Challenging Religious Fundamentalisms

A threat to gender equality

All over the world, there has been a rise of extremist and anti-rights groups, including States and non-state actors. Rising fundamentalisms are linked with geopolitics; systemic inequalities, including economic inequalities; militarism; displacement and other political and social factors.

Fundamentalisms use arguments based on religion, culture and tradition – and also sometimes nationalism and state sovereignty – to justify violence and discrimination, with disastrous consequences for human rights, gender justice and women’s equality.

Fundamentalist movements particularly target women, girls, ethnic and religious minorities, people expressing non-normative gender identities and sexualities, and people who dissent from or challenge fundamentalisms.

Justifications based on religion, culture, tradition and nationalism are also being used to cause regressions in law and policy at all levels – including in the sphere of international law. These justifications must be challenged. The violence they cause is unacceptable and cannot ever be condoned or tolerated.

Strategize, reinforce, organize

Greater strategizing and joint action across rights-based, social justice movements will increase our organizing power against fundamentalisms. In addition, reinforcing and protecting universal human rights will help to challenge States and groups who use justifications based on religion, culture and tradition to avoid their human rights obligations.

We ensure that rights advocates have access to high quality information from a feminist perspective. We also contribute to strategic thinking and facilitate advocacy among women’s rights organizations, movements, and allies. We encourage dialogue across generations, regions, issues and religious contexts to counter fundamentalisms.

Our Actions

  • Generating and sharing knowledge to explore the tactics that religious fundamentalist movements use to increase their power, and understand the strategies that women’s rights activists employ to resist them.

  • Convening spaces to build shared understandings of the issues, enhance capacities, and strengthen responses to fundamentalisms across religions and geographic areas.

  • Confronting religious fundamentalisms with our allies through advocacy at the UN and other international, regional, and national spaces.

  • Coordinating a collaborative project, the Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs), that monitors, analyzes, and shares information on anti-rights initiatives threatening international and regional human rights systems.


"Cultural Rights…are not an excuse for violations of other human rights. They do not justify discrimination or violence. They are not a licence to impose identities or practices on others or to exclude them from either in violation of international law."

- Karima Bennoune, United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

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