Women & Civic Space

Women’s rights and gender equality crosscut ICNL’s efforts to ensure that everyone, without discrimination, can fully participate in shaping the future.

Women, including girls, transgender, gender diverse, and intersex women, are advancing human rights and democracy across the world. Yet they face discriminatory laws and practices that prevent the exercise of civic freedoms. Many women also face intersectional forms of discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, which further impedes their participation in public life.

ICNL works to promote an enabling environment for women’s full and equal enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and public participation, including in online spaces. We work with partners to advance international, regional, and national norms and standards that enhance women’s civic freedoms. Working with women-led organizations and movements, ICNL also supports capacity building and knowledge sharing on how to advocate for legal reforms protecting civic space for all women.

symbol of women in circle in blue with aqua circle outside (Icon credit: The Noun Project)

Key Resources


This report seeks to understand the impact of online gender-based violence on women human rights defenders in the Indo-Pacific region.


This briefer explores the threat of online gender-based violence to the civic freedoms of women and girls around the world.


This report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association explores how women and girls-led organizations and movements contribute to progress in human rights, peace, and sustainable development.


This webinar was organized by ICNL, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association. The event focused on ensuring women’s right to peaceful protest.

Women Journalists and Freedom of Expression

This report by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights examines the barriers and risks facing women journalists in the Americas as a result of inequality and gender-based discrimination. The report provides recommendations to States and other stakeholders on how to address those issues.

All Women & Civic Space Resources

Egyptian women line up to vote in 2011-2012 parliamentary elections. (Photo Credit: UN Women/Fatma Elzahraa Yassin)

How to Adopt a Gender Approach when Drafting or Amending Laws

This article by Esraa Mahadin discusses how to adopt gender policies when amending legislation. The ... Read More
Discussion on Regulations Protecting People with Disabilities and Civic Freedoms

Discussion on Regulations Protecting People with Disabilities and Civic Freedoms

Dr. Taqi Al-Majali interviewed activists and experts on the rights of persons with disabilities about ... Read More
Photo Credit: funky-data/iStock

Good Governance and Civic Space

Understanding the essence and practical value of human rights helps citizens enjoy and assert their ... Read More
women in India protesting in crowd (photo credit: unsplash.com)

Toolkit on the Rights of Women and Girls to Peaceful Assembly and Association

This ICNL-UNSR toolkit supports civil society efforts to advocate for women's full enjoyment of the ... Read More
girl on phone (credit: unsplash.com)

Briefer: Online Gender Based Violence

This ICNL briefer, provides background on online gender-based violence and describes the ongoing work of ... Read More
women in Africa (credit: pixabay.com)

Celebrating Women in Activism and Civil Society

In this report, UNSR Clement N. Voule, recognizes and elevates the contributions of women in ... Read More
Explore our full resource collection, which includes reports, legal analysis, and curated collections of materials covering an array of issues impacting civic space around the world.