Issue 9, May 2009
|Women and Human Rights: Overview|
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations which outlines 30 basic rights to which all humans are entitled. See Key Foundation Documents or the United Nation's overview of the UDHR. Using the UDHR as a framework, the UN developed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which are binding covenants for those countries which have ratified them.
Implementation is overseen within the UN system by multiple bodies and offices with the participation of national governments, NGOs, the justice system, and civil society. See the United Nation's list of these UN bodies.
It is important to note that human rights refer not only to rights, but also to obligations on the part of states to protect and take positive action to promote these rights.
Women’s human rights are included in the UDHR:
In 1979 The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) went further to specifically connect human rights to the experience of women. The 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women were other key milestones.
Of these declarations, the UN notes they are “texts [that] state general principles and practices that most States accept. Although not legally binding, these instruments have an undeniable moral force.” Generally, implementation of these principles has been another matter entirely, hampered by the depth to which gender inequality is embedded in law and in values and practices not easily reachable by the law. Cultural considerations in societies around the world also play a role.
In this section: