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UN Strategies To Promote Human Rights Of Women Not As Successful As Claimed


The United Nations’ strategies to increase gender equality in the field of human rights have increased our knowledge of the situation of women, but in the meantime the variety of violations has become invisible. This is one of the findings of a doctoral dissertation in international law written by Sari Kouvo of the School of Economics and Commercial Law at Göteborg University , Sweden.

Since its inception in 1945 the UN has been one of the foremost international players for human rights. In spite of its efforts to promote human rights, the UN has been criticized for not sufficiently promoting human rights for women. As a reaction to this criticism, the UN has adopted various strategies to enhance gender equality in the field of human rights and to promote the human rights of women.

The strategies that have been promoted during the 1990s have aimed to integrate the human rights of women or to view the entire field of human rights in a gender perspective. In practice, however, this integration has led to a selective focus on certain specific issues such as violence against women. Other areas, like the economic and social rights of women, have been neglected.

“A selective focus renders invisible the different types of violations of women’s human rights, which in turn leads to oversimplified models for solving the problems,” says Sari Kouvo.

The focus of the dissertation is on the intersection of the promotion of so-called women-centered strategies of equality, which dominated the 1970s, and today’s so-called “mainstreaming” strategies. The focus is on strategies that emerged in the 1990s with an eye to integrating either women’s human rights or a gender perspective. The dissertation analyzes the background to, the shaping of, and the content of these strategies, as well as their application in the UN system for human rights.

Sari Kouvo works at the Department of Law at the School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University. The dissertation was submitted in June 2004.

Title of dissertation: Making Just Rights? Mainstreaming Women’s Human Rights and a Gender Perspective

Maria Norrström | alfa
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