CWGL’s Role at the Vienna Conference

In the lead up to the Vienna Conference on Human Rights in 1993, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) was deeply involved in organizing: 1) the Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights, and 2) the Global Tribunal on Violations of Women’s Human Rights.

First, CWGL with women’s rights partners launched the Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights. A major component of the Campaign was a petition calling for the United Nations to place women's human rights issues on the agenda for the Vienna Conference. The petition emerged from the first 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign in 1991 and proved to be an effective mobilizing, educational, and lobbying tool to advance women's human rights. The petition collected half a million signatures in 23 languages from 124 countries and helped secure a formal declaration of women's rights as human rights and of violence against women as a human rights violation in the Vienna Declaration.

Second, CWGL and women’s rights partners globally organized the Global Tribunal on Violations of Women's Human. Many of those who were involved in the petition drive calling for the inclusion of women rights in the World Conference agenda were asking, what next? How do we show more clearly what it means for the violations of women's rights to be seen as violations of human rights? With these concerns in mind, CWGL and the International Women’s Tribune Center launched the Second Annual 16 Days of Activism in 1992 with a call for international hearings and increased documentation of violations of women's human rights, which women wanted the World Conference and the international human rights community to address.

During 1992-1993 public hearings were convened in Argentina, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, and the United States, and dozens of speakouts were held in other locations to document women’s human rights violations. The Global Tribunal on Violations on Women’s Human Rights held during the Vienna meetings was intended to formally address the government delegates, raise violence against women as a human rights violation and demand state accountability.

For more information, see Demanding Accountability: The Global Campaign and Vienna Tribunal for Women's Human Rights.