May 22, 2012
The 2012 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health focuses on occupational health. It includes a section that highlights the special concerns of women at work.
The report outlines international human rights and other instruments related to occupational health, and it addresses occupational health in the informal economy, focusing on the needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups. Among these, women are singled out. The Special Rapporteur argues that ‘it is critical that a gendered perspective be adopted in the formulation and implementation of occupational health laws and policies.’
He also stresses the difficulty faced by women who are more likely than men to work in the informal economy and more likely to face violence and harassment in the workplace as well as exposure to hazardous working conditions. Furthermore, the report highlights the health risks faced by women of childbearing age whose work exposes them to harmful chemicals. Exposure to harmful chemicals has been linked to birth defects and congenital disorders. Yet, women are often less able to access healthcare for work-related illnesses than men.
Under his mandate, the Special Rapporteur “on the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” is obligated to report annually to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on the status of the Right to Health around the world. This is his 2012 report to the UN Human Rights Council.