10 December 2013 – Press Release

International Federation of University Women (IFUW) calls for Human Rights Education for all secondary and tertiary students and those in continuing education

– Human rights education is an integral part of the right to education –

Geneva, Switzerland, 10 December 2013 – The  International Federation of University Women (IFUW) calls on governments to provide Human Rights Education (HRE) to all secondary school students, university students and civil servants on the occasion of Human Rights Day on 10 December.


IFUW advocates for all girls and women to enjoy their right to secondary, tertiary and continuing education. HRE is an integral part of the right to education. It improves equality in education and promotes human rights values such as tolerance and non-discrimination in schools and beyond. Formal education provides an effective and easy way to reach many children and to encourage and support fundamental rights principles. Furthermore, in order for human rights to be fully applied and understood throughout society, there is a real need for human rights education for employees in public service, including the police, judiciary, health workers and school workers. Tertiary and continuing education can provide this grounding.


Human rights are violated every day, and more specifically girls’ and women’s human rights. Of the 70-100 million children who are not attending school, 70 percent are girls. In many countries, poor women are up to 20 times less likely than the richest 20 percent of women to give birth in the presence of a skilled health worker capable of saving their lives. Gender-based violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. Worldwide, deprived of their right to education, women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate. One in every three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Women, partly because of their economic and social vulnerability, now constitute the majority of those between 15-24 years of age newly infected with HIV.


“Education is the foundation and catalyst for changing the state of human rights in the world,” said GWI President Catherine Bell. “Access to human rights education and access to education are indivisible and should be promoted throughout society.”


The secondary school years are a critical period for girls’ enjoyment of their human rights. Human rights violations during the secondary school years can force girls to drop out of school, thus depriving girls of their right to education. Examples of these are physical and sexual threats and violence, early marriage and lack of adequate sanitation. Human Rights Education can mitigate these risks.


The  International Federation of University Women (IFUW) is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and has an international membership. Founded in 1919, IFUW is the leading girls’ and women’s global organization run by and for women, advocating for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels.


IFUW has special consultative status with ECOSOC. Learn about our grants & fellowships and our advocacy work. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (@IFUWomen).

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For more information you can contact:

Contact Person: Nina Joyce

Tel: +41 22 731 23 80

Email: nj@ifuw.org

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