Special Focus

AWID is an international, feminist, membership organisation committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights

Protection of the Family

The Issue

Over the past few years, a troubling new trend at the international human rights level is being observed, where discourses on ‘protecting the family’ are being employed to defend violations committed against family members, to bolster and justify impunity, and to restrict equal rights within and to family life.

The campaign to "Protect the Family" is driven by ultra-conservative efforts to impose "traditional" and patriarchal interpretations of the family, and to move rights out of the hands of family members and into the institution of ‘the family’.

“Protection of the Family” efforts stem from:

  • rising traditionalism,
  • rising cultural, social and religious conservatism and
  • sentiment hostile to women’s human rights, sexual rights, child rights and the rights of persons with non-normative gender identities and sexual orientations.

Since 2014, a group of states have been operating as a bloc in human rights spaces under the name “Group of Friends of the Family”, and resolutions on “Protection of the Family” have been successfully passed every year since 2014.

This agenda has spread beyond the Human Rights Council. We have seen regressive language on “the family” being introduced at the Commission on the Status of Women, and attempts made to introduce it in negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Approach

AWID works with partners and allies to jointly resist “Protection of the Family” and other regressive agendas, and to uphold the universality of human rights.

In response to the increased influence of regressive actors in human rights spaces, AWID joined allies to form the Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs).  OURs is a collaborative project that monitors, analyzes, and shares information on anti-rights initiatives like  “Protection of the Family”.

Rights at Risk, the first OURs report, charts a map of the actors making up the global anti-rights lobby, identifies their key discourses and strategies, and the effect they are having on our human rights.   

The report outlines “Protection of the Family” as an agenda that has fostered collaboration across a broad range of regressive actors at the UN.  It describes it as: “a strategic framework that houses “multiple patriarchal and anti-rights positions, where the framework, in turn, aims to justify and institutionalize these positions.”


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