Women, International Economic Human Rights, and Western Impediments

Publication Year



women, international relations, economics, human rights, society and culture, developing world


Economics | Gender and Sexuality | Human Rights Law | International Humanitarian Law | International Relations | Sociology


In our global society, violence committed by one individual against the next is broadly condemned, whereas structural violence, the violence embedded in political and economic systems, is not. As scholar L.A. Rehof phrases the contradiction: "Why is it apparently more acceptable to die of hunger than to be shot?" That structural violence, in our patriarchal world, disproportionately affects women, is likely to be a cause for the discrepancy. Another reason is certainly that it is easier to point blame when an individual (possibly representing an institution) causes active physical harm. The physical harm wrought by poverty and economic exploitation is not clearly attributable to certain persons. When people are tortured for voicing their political beliefs, raped by prison guards, and their civil rights otherwise trampled on, the international community is angered and cites the universally applicable Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. There is, however, another Covenant, and it is just as binding: The Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This Covenant declares that the (signatory) State has the responsibility to curb violations of economic, social and cultural rights, as much as it is responsible for ensuring civil rights.

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