In this piece, noted activist and author of women’s human rights Charlotte Bunch (1944-) lays out her belief for the need to more thoroughly incorporate a feminist perspective in all aspects of human rights policy, advocacy, and definition. Instead of confining women’s human rights under the heading of so-called women’s issues, Bunch argues for a much greater inclusion of women in the framing and shaping of global policies in development and human rights so that they might better respond to women’s needs.
Bunch offers several compelling reasons to justify her position. By recognizing that each person views societal concepts and institutions differently, it is clear that human rights issues require much more feminist perspectives. Furthermore, because the original authors of human rights were largely Western-educated men, their formulations of human rights do not comprehensively represent the majority of people. The fact that few world governments today are seriously committed to domestic as well as foreign policies based on upholding women’s equality as a basic human right is evidence of this.
In the end, Bunch says, it comes down to who defines human rights issues and who defines where the state should enter and why. For all the aforementioned reasons, these questions require a robust reassessment with a feminist perspective.
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