International Women's Rights


Director: Marilou McPhedran

About the Institute
About the Director

About the Institute

The Institute for International Women's Rights provides opportunities for research, learning, dialogue, and action on Women's Rights in collaboration with groups and organizations within the university, such as the Institute for Women's and Gender Studies, and in the larger community, such as the Winnipeg branch of UNIFEM.

About the Director

Marilou McPhedran
Prof. Marilou McPhedran
P: 204.988.7112

Marilou McPhedran is a human rights lawyer who served as the Principal (dean) of Global College in its founding years from 2008-2012 and currently teaches human rights at Global College. In 1997 Marilou founded the International Women's Rights Project (IWRP) when she was at York University, which is now based at the University of Victoria Centre for Global Studies and she currently directs the Institute for International Women’s Rights and teaches human rights courses at Global College.  

As a human rights lawyer she has specialized in developing curriculum and practice "Lived Rights" and "Evidence-based Advocacy" in the application of human rights law and policy in Canada and internationally, emphasizing international, inter-disciplinary, and inter-generational dialogue.  Following her term as Global College principal, she was seconded by UWinnipeg President Lloyd Axworthy as the Human Rights Fellow on staff in the UNFPA-Geneva Office. She was the only Canadian to be invited by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present in the 23rd Session of the Un Human Rights Council on the panel entitled Setting Priorities for the Future: Strengthening the Work of the Human Rights Council and other Inter-governmental Bodies and Processes in the area of violence against women (June 5, 2013, Geneva).

“My focus is on the urgent need for integration of human security and human rights in active implementation of women’s human rights,” said McPhedran, when interviewed. “Also needed is a much greater appreciative inclusion of civil society actors — such as universities, NGOs and corporate leaders — in UN strategies to counter the global pandemic of violence against women and girls, with Canada as no exception.”

Professor McPhedran has designed and teaches several innovative Global College courses. Every August, she teaches in the intensive pilot course (HR2600) for the education program of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights “Emerging Issues in Human Rights” - which she designed in collaboration with the Museum and Rotary World Peace Partners.

Youth Speak Out

Side event at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York

Students of Global College attended the Commission on the Status of Women's 60th session in March 2016, the IIWR-GC hosted Youth Speak Out side event featuring two Global College students, Katrina Leclerc and Breanne Lavalee-Heckert.


UNPAC (United Nations Platform for Action Committee) came into being in 1996 after 45 Manitoba women attended Beijing for the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, most on their own dime, participating in both the UN conference and the parallel NGO Conference in 1995. They returned with a commitment to see the recommendations in the Platform for Action  - the roadmap for equality that was agreed to in Beijing by Canada and 188 other nations - implemented.

The Platform for Action identifies 12 Critical Areas of Concern regarding the main obstacles to women's advancement. The areas are: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, the girl child and the economy.

Through the years, UNPAC found creative, interactive ways to encourage Manitobans and their elected officials to implement the recommendations of the Platform for Action here at home.

In June 2014, UNPAC closed its doors after almost twenty years of innovative projects supporting women's equality and empowerment through community action and education.

Through the services of Internet Archive, the content of the former domain name has been archived for future access. The link can be found below:


Girl Ambassadors for Peace

Girl Ambassadors for Peace is a program by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders which was piloted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2014 and is now implemented in South Sudan. Part of the curriculum for the program was co-authored by two students, Janna Barkman and Jazmin Papadopoulos. Two other students, Claire Paetkau and Katrina Leclerc, translated the materials into French for launch in the DRC. This video was presented at the Canadian Mission in New York City in March 2015 as a side-event of the Commission on the Status of Women's 59th session.