This article reviews the development of universal women’s human rights since 1970. It begins by discussing how the international feminist movement influenced the development of women’s legal human rights, and continues by reviewing three debates in the literature on women’s rights. The first debate is whether human rights as originally formulated were actually men’s rights; the second debate is about the relationship between culture and women’s rights; and the third considers the effects of globalization on women’s rights. The author defends a liberal approach to human rights via the principles of equality and autonomy for women, but also argues that the socialist approach is very important for women to achieve their economic human rights. Autonomy, moreover, is the means by which women can negotiate their own way between “Western” style personal liberation, and participation as they see fit in their own religions and cultures.
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann (2011) Universal Women's Rights Since 1970: The Centrality of Autonomy and Agency, Journal of Human Rights, 10:4, 433-449, DOI: 10.1080/14754835.2011.619398