ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Women's Rights

Women's rights are rights that promote a position of legal and social equality of women with men.

Men and women can have very different experiences - around the world women and girls often face gender-based discrimination that puts them at increased risk of poverty, violence, ill health and a poor education. ActionAid’s women's rights work includes a range of human rights issues, working at once to advance new rights and opportunities for all women and to combat the abuses of specific groups of women and girls.

Despite great strides made by the international women’s rights movement over many years, women and girls around the world are still married as children or trafficked into forced labour and sex slavery. They are refused access to education and political participation, and some are trapped in conflicts where rape is perpetrated as a weapon of war. Around the world, deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth are needlessly high, and women are prevented from making deeply personal choices in their private lives. 

Women - the drivers of Change

Yet despite all this, women are powerful forces for change, amazingly determined and resourceful in their fight to achieve a better future. Income in the hands of women has a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of their families, since they spend a significant proportion of it on children’s food, health and education.

Every time a family has good food to eat and clean water to drink, every day that a child arrives at school or a sick person makes it to the clinic, it’s usually a woman who has fought for this small, daily victory over adversity.

The best way to end poverty is to strengthen women in their own struggles, helping them to unleash their own potential to change the world.

Human Rights Based Approach - What is it?

The Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) is built on the universal framework of international human rights standards. In simple language this means that development needs to:

  1. Be based on the international human rights legal framework
  2. Promote the right to active, free and meaningful participation for all 
  3. Address discrimination and prioritise vulnerable groups
  4. Clarify links between rights and duties, and relationships between rights-holders and duty-bearers

ActionAid and Women's Rights

ActionAid defends the rights of women and girls to live free from gender-based violence, have dignity in the face of HIV and AIDS, control their sexuality, and enjoy economic empowerment. 

Our three focus areas are:

  1. Violence against women and girls in public and private spaces
  2. Economic alternatives for women - including the recognition, redistribution, and reduction of women's unpaid care work, and supporting the development women-only cooperatives and collectives
  3. Political campaigning

ActionAid and Irish Aid 

ActionAid has been partnering with Irish Aid for nearly 20 years. What started as a small scale support for small initiatives has developed in a strong women’s rights programme being implemented in four countries. The current ActionAid Ireland's women's rights programme, funded by Irish Aid, is being implemented in Malawi, Kenya, Vietnam and Nepal and is focused on ending violence against women and ensuring that women and girls can break the cycle of poverty and violence. 

The Irish Aid funded women’s rights programme follows the HRBA approach and supports local women’s groups to empower them to stand up for their rights in their own communities. In order to be able to do so they are for example, provided with training and participation in businesses or cooperatives to gain financial independence, support their families and break their cycle of poverty and violence. However, these initiatives need to be sustainable and this cannot be done without national level activities that challenge and change existing national policies negatively affecting women and girls.

The aim of the programme is aligned to ActionAid International’s objective of mobilising women and girls to reject gender-based violence and break the cycle of poverty of violence. All countries where ActionAid has a presence and works on women’s rights contribute to the same objective; this way we have a much larger impact and can ensure change that lasts for women and girls all over the world!

Read: Walking in Her Shoes - Results and lessons from the Women’s Rights Programme

ActionAid and Women's Rights in Ireland

ActionAid Ireland is an active member of the National Women's Council of Ireland and a member of the Irish Consortium of Gender Based Violence. 

We are currently rolling out a Youth Engagement Programme in schools and universities around the country, focusing on our women’s rights programme and funded by Irish Aid. If you would like ActionAid to visit your school or university or to find out more about the programme please email

We have also recently launched our Safe Cities for Women solidarity campaign. Read more here.

ActionAid addresses the rights of all women and girls around the world. Join us! To receive updates follow us on Facebook/Twitter or visit our website regularly.