Abuses suffered by women will form a central focus for Amnesty International's campaign work for the first time.
The organisation has always worked on gender issues but now wants to ensure that this goes to the heart of the organisation.
Whereas conditions for women in some countries have improved in recent years, wars and conflict in others has meant that their situation has worsened, said an Amnesty spokeswoman.
The charity is setting up a dedicated gender unit, which will be in place by the autumn. It has a projected team of five members, based in the London offices of Amnesty's International Secretariat. A new head of the unit is to be recruited and will be appointed by September.
The unit will conduct research into the root causes of gender discrimination, and ensure that women's human rights are central across the whole organisation and all its campaigns, for example on torture or refugees.
It will play a major role in a massive global campaign on violence against women planned for this autumn, which will focus on issues such as rape, trafficking and domestic violence.