Women, Gender, and Human Rights

Citation:

Ali, Nada Mustafa. 2018. “Women, Gender, and Human Rights.” In Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Rights: History, Politics, Practice, edited by Rajini Srikanth and Elora Halim Chowdhury. Abingdon: Routledge.

Author: Nada Mustafa Ali

Abstract:

This chapter serves three functions. First, it informs readers and invites them to think critically about the relevance of international human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to local struggles to achieve gender equality and women’s human rights settings. The chapter also engages a question I have been grappling with for over two decades: How do we research, write, study, and/or advocate on women’s human rights and gender equality, especially in Global South settings, without reproducing “single story” and “victim-savage-savior” narratives? Without othering women and communities facing human rights abuses, social exclusion, and gender inequality? How do we avoid the trap of ethnocentricism? While such questions are relevant to research and activism on a broad range of issues, including gender-based violence, rape in war, economic marginalization, and political exclusion, I will draw on discussions around female genital mutilation (FGC/M). Focusing on Sudan, I turn to the work of scholars and writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chandra T. Mohanty, and Makau Mutua; and on my research, pedagogy, and activism in engaging this and other questions. I argue that international treaties like CEDAW may constitute important starting points and frameworks that women’s organizations and activists in countries like Sudan may draw upon when advocating for women’s social, economic, and political rights. However, it is important to recognize the limitations inherent in such frameworks. It is crucial that our research and advocacy do not contribute to reinforcing negative stereotypes about women and communities. It is also important to learn from experiences elsewhere, and to avoid the pitfalls associated with transnational feminist organizing.

Topics: Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2018

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