Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives

By Rebecca J. Cook | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Toward a More Effective Guarantee of the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Women in the Inter-American System

Cecilia Medina


Introduction

Before addressing the substance of my chapter, I think it useful to state my position on some points. First, I have consciously changed the title of my chapter and refrained from using the expression "women's rights." My starting point is that human rights are those rights that each and every human being has on the sole merit of being human; thus it does not seem possible to use an expression that suggests the idea that some human beings, women, have different rights from those of other human beings, men. A first consequence of this position is that I find in the existence of human rights the moral justification to fight for women. I can think of no other reason that I should be entitled to plead for the improvement of women's lot in life. Consequently, my approach is that the struggle for women forms part of the general struggle to develop respect for the dignity of all human beings, and it is from the latter that it obtains the necessary force and legitimacy that will ultimately ensure its success.

A second consequence of this approach is that, in order to justify enjoyment by women of their rights, I do not find it necessary to point out that some characteristics inherent to women are better than those of men for an adequate functioning of society, or to argue that women have a higher morality or a higher intellect than men and that their serving in leading positions in society will result in an improved form of community life. In my view, women do not need to "earn" human rights; they should be encouraged, not hindered, to achieve leading positions in society, and have their fair share of power, education,

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