Human Rights of Women
Full course description
Worldwide women experience difficulties in fulfilling their human rights. Culture, tradition and stereotypical ideas influence women’s position in society. It is the aim of this course to look at the human rights of women from the perspective of the principle of equality. What does this principle entail and how does it relate to the principle of non-discrimination. After a thorough study of these concepts the impact and use of several international and regional instruments that are based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination will be compared. Special attention will be paid to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Women’s Convention) and its supervisory organ, CEDAW. We will study both form and contents of the Women’s Convention and look into CEDAW’s monitoring possibilities. Regardless of how well rights are laid down and interpreted on the international level, they can only be enjoyed by individuals when they are implemented and protected on the national level. Customary and traditional practices, the dilemma between universality and cultural diversity and problems around ethnicity and women’s rights, determine to a large extent the de facto equality of men and women. The last subject of interest in this course is violence against women. Gender based violence is one of the most important issues that have been put on the international agenda since the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. Violence may take many forms such as harmful traditional practices, sexual harassment, trafficking in women, sexual slavery, rape in conflict situations, and domestic violence.
Students enrolled in this course will do individual research into one of the rights contained in the Women’s Convention; each student in a tutorial group will study a different right. They will examine to what extent this specific right can be enjoyed by women in a country of their choice. This research will result in a short mid-term paper that will be presented in class and that will be graded. At the end of the course students will take a take home exam consisting of a case with essay questions. Both the mid-term and the final exam will count for 50% of the final grade.
The student has in-depth knowledge of the principles of equality and non-discrimination contained in international and regional human rights instruments in general, and of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in particular. The student is able to identify situations of discrimination against women and can determine which steps can be taken in practice to solve concrete cases of gender based discrimination and violence against women. The student can analyze the domestic situation of a State as regards the implementation of women’s human rights and can express her/his legal assessment both in a researched paper and in an oral presentation. The student can recognize and criticize situations of corruption that influence women’s enjoyment of their human rights. Furthermore, the student can identify the difficulties that exist as regards access to legal remedies and the enforcement of women’s human rights both at the national and at the international level.
Prior knowledge of international law and/or human rights law is needed.
Ingrid Westendorp (ed.), The Women’s Convention Turned 30: Achievements, Setbacks, and Prospects, Intersentia, 2012.