February 22, 2018

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) is alarmed by reports today that the US Department of State’s influential Human Rights Reports will have pared down sections on women’s rights and discrimination. This would include the removal of critical analysis on the state of women’s reproductive rights, including their access to contraception and abortion, and discrimination in the soon-to-be-released 2017 edition.

“This new offensive by the Trump administration runs counter to international agreements that recognize reproductive rights as human rights central to women’s and girls’ equality and empowerment,” said Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition. “By deleting these critical elements of the report, the administration is attempting to render invisible the struggles of women and girls to fully exercise their human rights free from discrimination and violence.”

The State Department’s Human Rights Reports have been used by US government officials and human rights defenders around the world to hold governments to account for protecting the human rights of all people, particularly those who are most marginalized. In the past, changes to the reports have gone through a highly rigorous process to ensure that they reflect the will of Congress, and respond to evolving global human rights standards. Disregarding this process at the direction of a senior official at the State Department politicizes the reports in a way that further undermines US authority and leadership on human rights.

Changes of this nature represent a new line of attack in the Trump administration’s war on the human rights of women, girls, and other marginalized people, which began with the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule during his first week in office.

Congress should exercise its oversight role and insist that the State Department maintain the reports’ integrity.

Update: IWHC has co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with more than 150 organizations, condemning the State Department’s decision to pare back language on the human rights of women, girls, LGBT people, and other marginalized peoples.

Contact:, (+1) 917-498-3346

Photo: T. Markowski / MSZ