Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Equity or Equality



As Shanti Dairiam pointed out the CEDAW Convention secured a normative framework of substantive equality for women. This has been re-emphasised with all relevant examples of CEDAW General Recommendations and Concluding Observations in the CEDAW Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2012 and in my article on Gender and Democratic Citizenship – Confronting Traditionalism and Neo-liberalism: the Impact of CEDAW, Cardozo L. Rev., 10 International Journal of Constitutional Law 512 (2012).

It is of immediate importance to reassert women's universal human right to substantive equality. Other values such as equity, complementarity and human dignity allow interpretation which is consonant with traditional patriarchal values and does not secure equality for women, either in the public space or in the family. Equity, complementarity and human dignity can only be properly understood where they are well founded on women's right to equality and interpreted in accordance with women's universal right to equality.

The immediate relevance of this issue is evident in the resolutions, in 2010 and 2012, of the Human Rights Council to restore traditional values to the interpretation of international human rights. Furthermore, last Friday the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the Protection of the Family.

This resolution on Protection of the Family fails to recognise the diversity of families or to include any reference to the right to equality within the family. The former problem regarding the failure to recognise diverse families was the chief concern expressed by those states which opposed the resolution or proposed amendments to it.

However, the second problem - the failure to assert the right to equality for family members within the family - seems to have passed under the radar of the opponents to the resolution.Since the 1948 UDHR and as later detailed in CEDAW article 16,  human rights regulation of the family has recognised the individual rights of family members to equality within families:  "equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution".The absence of an equality clause in the resolution threatens the loss of this essential fundamental right, especially for women and girl children. What women and girls must be guaranteed within the family is first and foremost equality.


Frances Raday
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Raday

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