Human Rights and Women

human rights

human rights, universal rights held to belong to individuals by virtue of their being human, encompassing civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and freedoms, and based on the notion of personal human dignity and worth. Conceptually derived from the theory of natural law and originating in Greco-Roman doctrines, the idea of human rights appears in some early Christian writers' works and is reflected in the Magna Carta (1215). The concept winds as a philosophical thread through 17th- and 18th-century European and American thought, including the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789). The United Nation's Commission on Human Rights, with Eleanor Roosevelt as chair, created the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which reasserted the concept of human rights after the horrors of World War II. Human rights have since become a universally espoused yet widely disregarded concept.

Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch promote human rights and denounce human-rights abuses. In addition, such abuses around the world are monitored and documented by independent investigators ( "special rapporteurs" ) appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, which, in turn, rebukes cited nations for their human-rights failures. (The council replaced the UN Human Rights Commission, which had been accused of protecting human-rights violators, in mid-2006; similar accusations have been leveled at the new council.) In Europe, the supranational European Court of Human Rights, established under the Council of Europe, is intended to protect individual human rights from government abuse.

The charging in 1998 by a Spanish court of former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet with human-rights violations and the 1999 British ruling that he could be extradited to Spain, as well as the indictment and arrest (2000) in Senegal of former Chadian president Hissène Habré for human-rights violations during his presidency (although charges were later dropped, he was subsequently rearrested on a Belgian warrant), were regarded as small steps forward in the international protection of human rights.

See also civil rights; feminism; gay-rights movement; war crimes.

See M. A. Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2001); A. Fagan, The Atlas of Human Rights (2010); S. Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010); A. Neier, The International Human Rights Movement (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Global Feminism: Transnational Women's Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights
Myra Marx Ferree; Aili Mari Tripp.
New York University Press, 2006
Agenda Setting, the UN, and NGOs: Gender Violence and Reproductive Rights
Jutta M. Joachim.
Georgetown University Press, 2007
Where Human Rights Begin: Health, Sexuality, and Womenin the New Millennium
Wendy Chavkin; Ellen Chesler.
Rutgers University Press, 2005
Women's Voices, Women's Rights: Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1996
Alison Jeffries.
Westview Press, 1999
Promoting Women's Rights as Human Rights
Publication.
United Nations, 1999
Domestic Violence: Issue of Violation of Human Rights of Women
Mahapatra, Padmalaya.
Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 13, No. 2, July-December 2008
Progressive Development of Women's Human Rights in International Human Right Law and within United Nations System
Qureshi, Shazia.
Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Women's Rights as Human Rights: The Promotion of Human Rights as a Counter-Culture
Arat, Zehra F. Kabasakal.
UN Chronicle, Vol. 45, No. 2-3, June-September 2008
Empowering Women in the Age of Democratisation: Is Guarantee of Human Rights the Way?
Kumar H. M., Sanjeev; Singh, Krishna Kumar.
Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 15, No. 1, June 2010
Women's Rights and Shari'a Law: A Workable Reality? an Examination of Possible International Human Rights Approaches through the Continuing Reform of the Pakistani Hudood Ordinance
Weaver, Katherine M.
Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, Vol. 17, No. 2, Spring 2007
When Culture Hurts: Dispelling the Myth of Cultural Justification for Gender-Based Human Rights Violations
Zaunbrecher, Katie L.
Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 33, No. 3, Summer 2011
Human Rights: The Essential Reference
Carol Devine; Carol Rae Hansen; Ralph Wilde; Hilary Poole.
Oryx Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Universal Suffrage and Early Feminism"
International Human Rights, Decolonisation and Globalisation: Becoming Human
Shelly Wright.
Routledge, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Witches, Slaves and Savages"
Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives
Rebecca J. Cook.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994
Gender, Planning, and Human Rights
Tovi Fenster.
Routledge, 1999
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