Beyond Human Rights: Rethinking Gender Equality in Law and Politics

by | Oct 19, 2017

‘Beyond Human Rights? Rethinking Gender Equality In Law And Politics’, an international conference is hosted by Escola de Direito de São Paulo da FGV, Brazil; Oxford Human Rights Hub, Oxford University, United Kingdom; School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia, and will be held at the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotà, Colombia on 19 and 20 October 2017.

The conference will therefore be centred around the following topics:

  • Constitutionalism, rights and gender equality. Does constitutionalism and/or human rights still work for women? How far can we secure gender equality through rights and law? How do claims for gender equality square up with non-binary identities and intersectionality? Is gender still a useful category?
  • Democracy, mobilisation and counter mobilisation. How do we understand the rise of new social movements for and against women, and what are the new strategies, repertoires and challenges for feminist mobilization? Which fields are more sensitive to counter mobilization and why? How are movement and counter movement’s strategies shaping each other and policy agendas? To what extent, and how, are both sides disputing the language of rights? How do we evaluate mobilisation strategies and outcomes?
  • National and international responses to gendered poverty and inequality. What have we learnt about socio-economic rights and legal responses to poverty? What is left in the margins of socio-economic rights responses to poverty? What are other legal options beyond socio-economic rights? How can we capitalise on new developments such as the 2015 global commitment to women’s issues in the Sustainable Development Goals and how can we harness existing binding human rights commitments, such as CEDAW and ICESCR, to hold the world to account for delivering the SDGs for women by 2030? What use can we make of relatively new international procedures such as the Optional Protocols to CEDAW and ICESCR to mobilise for change and to address violations of women’s rights? What successful experiences give us hope for action?
  • Women and work: Crossing the boundaries. To what extent have we addressed the work/family divide?  What are the main issues raised by the debate surrounding sex work? Have labour laws and human rights been sidelined by the flexibilization of labour markets and increasing precariousness of work, especially for women who bear the double burden of paid and unpaid work? How can the rights of migrant women, especially domestic workers, be adequately protected?  How can human rights law be reconfigured to provide decent work standards and to change the gender distribution of labour within the family?  How has austerity affected the relationship between rights to welfare and rights at work and how can we avoid reinforcing gendered roles through welfare provision such as conditional cash transfers?
  • Gender equality and women’s bodies. What normative frameworks enable greater protection for women in reproductive decision-making, gender-based violence, safe sex work and so on? What is the effect, on the feminist agenda, of conservative threats, as well as new actors and the growing importance of issues related to sexuality (largely influenced by the LGBTI movement agenda)? Is it still possible to accommodate women’s mobilization for equality and autonomy without contesting the frame of family and domesticity?

We invite you to address one or more of these questions in different national and international contexts. We welcome papers that address the changing context of gender equality and women’s rights struggles, and that are inspired to think about these issues in ‘new’ ways. What, if any, have been the significant changes of the past two decades and what conceptual, legal and political frameworks make sense going forward. In this, we hope to have a dialogue across countries of the South, and with countries of the North, about the place of women’s rights and gender equality in today’s world.

The programme of the conference can be found here.


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