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The fields of human rights and development have provided an important focus for the promotion of women‘s equality and empowerment in the United Nations (UN) era. Even as new policies and programs have been advanced in the name of women’s empowerment, we have also seen an intensification of economic exploitation and vulnerability to human rights abuse. This subject will trace the history and examine the impact of the strategies adopted to promote women‘s equality in both fields, and the links forged between them in rights-based approaches to development. The limitations as well as the potential of law and international institutions in promoting equality and social justice will be evaluated. Students will be challenged to assess how notions of ‘equality’, ‘gender‘, ‘human rights’ and ‘development’ have been defined in law, policy and practice. In addition to the generalised overview, the subject will examine how issues of women, development and human rights translate in particular arenas, including contexts of conflict/peace building, and contexts of transnational labour regimes.
This subject will trace the history and examine the impact of the strategies adopted by advocates for women‘s equality in the fields of international human rights and development law and policy.
Principal topics include:
- The links between human rights and development strategies in addressing questions of equality and social justice for women
- Impediments to advancing social justice for women including conceptual inadequacies, dominant models of development, dominant approaches to human rights, institutional marginalisation, gender bias in the law, the limits of legal liberalism and legacies of colonialism
- The limitations and potential of law and international institutions in promoting women‘s equality and social justice
- The role of transnational feminism both within international institutions and in global social movements/civil society
- The challenges of how questions of women, development and human rights are addressed in contexts of conflict/peace building
- The challenges of how questions of women, development and human rights are addressed in contexts of transnational labour regimes.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will have:
- An advanced and integrated understanding of the key international human rights instruments and development policies and programs that have sought to promote women’s equality since 1945
- A critical and applied understanding of the interrelationship between women’s enjoyment of human rights and their equal participation in, and benefiting from, economic development
- A sophisticated appreciation of the theoretical debates about how best to conceptualise sex/gender [in]equality, the different legal conceptions of sex/gender equality, and the problems associated with measuring and assessing substantive equality
- Detailed knowledge and appreciation of the contributions by postcolonial legal scholars to understanding the diversity of women’s experiences of inequality and the role played by customary and colonial laws as well as international economic institutions
- The critical skills required to examine and assess the contributions of women’s movements and nongovernmental organisations to advancing women’s equality
- The skills to analyse policies and programs aimed at promoting women’s advancement in the human rights and development fields
- A sophisticated understanding of how issues of women, development and human rights translate in particular arenas that will be the focus of in-depth study, including contexts of conflict/peace building and contexts of transnational labour regimes.
Last updated: 12 November 2021