Beyond “Half the Sky”

Even if you take issue with the celebrity cameos and reporting style in the recent smash PBS documentary, Half the Sky, you can't deny that the program increased the awareness of discrimination against women, one of today's paramount moral challenges. For a deeper understanding of women's human rights, here are some additional resources to help navigate these complex problems:

Women's Human Rights: The International and Comparative Law Casebook by Susan Deller Ross

Women's Human Rights is the first human rights casebook to focus specifically on women's human rights. Rich with interdisciplinary material, the book advances the study of the deprivation and violence women suffer due to discriminatory laws, religions, and customs that deny them their most fundamental freedoms. It also provides present and future lawyers the legal tools for change, demonstrating how human rights treaties can be used to obtain new laws and court decisions that protect women against discrimination with respect to employment, land ownership, inheritance, subordination in marriage, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, and the denial of reproductive rights.

Gender and Culture at the Limit of Rights, edited by Dorothy Hodgson

Gender and Culture at the Limit of RightsAn interdisciplinary collection, Gender and Culture at the Limit of Rights examines the potential and limitations of the "women's rights as human rights" framework as a strategy for seeking gender justice. Drawing on detailed case studies from the United States, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere, contributors to the volume explore the specific social histories, political struggles, cultural assumptions, and gender ideologies that have produced certain rights or reframed long-standing debates in the language of rights. The essays address the gender-specific ways in which rights-based protocols have been analyzed, deployed, and legislated in the past and the present, and the implications for women and men, adults and children in various social and geographical locations. Questions addressed include: What are the gendered assumptions and effects of the dominance of rights-based discourses for claims to social justice? What kinds of opportunities and limitations does such a "culture of rights" provide to seekers of justice, whether individuals or collectives, and how are these gendered? How and why do female bodies often become the site of contention in contexts pitting cultural against juridical perspectives?

Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspective by Rebecca Cook

Rebecca J. Cook and the contributors of Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspective analyze how international human rights law applies specifically to women in various cultures worldwide, and develop strategies to promote equitable application of human rights law at the international, regional, and domestic levels. Their essays present a compelling mixture of reports and case studies from various regions in the world, combined with scholarly assessments of international law as these rights specifically apply to women.

Gender Stereotyping: Transnational Legal Perspectives byRebecca J. Cook and Simone Cusack

Drawing on domestic and international law, as well as on judgments given by courts and human rights treaty bodies, Gender Stereotyping offers perspectives on how wrongful gender stereotypes can be effectively eliminated through the transnational legal process in order to ensure women's equality and exercise of their human rights.

On the Move for Love: Migrant Entertainers and the U.S. Military in South Korea by Sealing Cheng 

Are women who travel to work in such clubs victims of trafficking, sex slaves, or simply migrant women? How do these women understand their own experiences? Is antitrafficking activism helpful in protecting them? In On the Move for Love, Sealing Cheng attempts to answer these questions by following the lives of migrant Filipina entertainers working in various gijichon clubs. Focusing on their aspirations for love and a better future, Cheng's ethnography illuminates the complex relationships these women form with their employers, customer-boyfriends, and families. She offers an insightful critique of antitrafficking discourses, pointing to the inadequacy of recognizing women only as victims and ignoring their agency and aspirations. Cheng analyzes the women's experience in South Korea in relation to their subsequent journeys to other countries, providing a diachronic look at the way migrant issues of work, sex, and love fit within the larger context of transnationalism, identity, and global hierarchies of inequality.

Female Circumcision: Multicultural Perspectives, edited by Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf

Female Circumcision brings together African activists to examine the issue within its various cultural and historical contexts, the debates on circumcision regarding African refugee and immigrant populations in the U.S. and the human rights efforts to eradicate the practice. This volume does not focus narrowly on female circumcision as a set of ritualized surgeries sanctioned by society. Instead, the contributors explore a chain of connecting issues and processes through which the practice is being transformed in local and transnational contexts. The authors document shifts in local views to highlight processes of change and chronicle the efforts of diverse communities as agents in the process of cultural and social transformation.

A Voice for Human Rights by Mary Robinson, edited by Kevin Boyle

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, was one of the policy leaders interviewed for Half The Sky. A Voice for Human Rights offers
an edited collection of Robinson's public addresses, given between 1997
and 2002, when she served as United Nations High Commissioner of Human
Rights. The book also provides the first in-depth account of the work of
the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. With a foreword by
Kofi Annan and an afterword by Louise Arbour, the book will be of
interest to all concerned with international human rights, international
relations, development, and politics.

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