Gender incompetent policies and hierarchical understandings of rights dominate global economic governance programmes. Integrating a feminist political economy into the analysis reveals the interconnections of structural inequalities that underlie women’s subordination.
The continuation of the war on women in an escalated and violent fashion in many parts of the world has provoked me to write a book reflecting on my human rights monitoring experiences of the past two decades. One of the central challenges of the book, Violence Without Borders, has been to unpack the hierarchy of rights that deny women access to critical resources so needed in enhancing their capacity to resist transgressions on their rights. This article stems from a chapter of the book which argues that introducing a feminist political economy approach into the analysis can unravel the missing link in women’s human rights.
The recognition of violence against women (VAW) as a human rights violation was a turning point in the human rights movement. The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women affirmed that “…violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and … violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position…”.
Since the adoption of the Declaration, violence against women rose to prominence on national and international agendas at the expense of compromising its feminist content as the responses to the problem became dominated by a welfare oriented approach. Thus VAW is treated in a selective, compartmentalized and isolated manner, largely disconnected from gender inequality and women’s socio-economic rights, which impedes their capability to escape violence.