ABSTRACT: important, both in actuality and in political

status or aim of universalism of women has been much discussed topic of
feminism in the end of twentieth century or post-modern era. Feminism movement
is criticized that how is injustice to be judged and condemned if contestation
and the openness of ungrounded universalism are the only ideals. My aim of this
paper is to enquiry into the commitments to equality implicit in feminism and
its relationship to ‘actually existing’ human rights for women as they have
been re-worked by the international feminist movement. It argues that feminism
can be used to provide support for one possible understanding of equality set
in the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
So this paper is to highlight some points of gender biases, women exploitation
and crimes against women and make women conversant with the basic women rights
by putting the laws in action and pave the way for women empowerment.

KEYWORDS: Equality,
Human Rights, Feminism, International Feminism, Justice.

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rights are progressively important, both in actuality and in political theory,
as a result of collective interest in globalization. There is an extensive
specialist feminist literature on human rights issues, mainly written by
lawyers and activists. The relative success of the international women’s
movement is, however, in uneasy tension with the highly developed uncertainty
of universal rights in mainstream feminist political theory. Challenges to
Enlightenment thought and increased emphasis on sexual difference and
differences between women mean that feminist political theorists are wary of
universal rights as androcentric and ethnocentric (Phillips 1992). This paper
is an attempt to think through the issues raised by human rights for women and
to argue that some of these uncertainties, if not misplaced, are exaggerated
with respect to the way in which universal human rights are being developed and
used in practice. In particular, I shall argue that feminists should support
human rights for women as part of a long term strategy aimed at achieving
sexual equality.

right is a freedom legitimizing certain entitlements out of which some are
simply by virtue of being human. Human rights are based on the principle of
respect and dignity for the individual. The fundamental assumption for human
rights is that a human is a moral and rational being who justifies to be
treated with dignity. Some theorists claimed that human rights are universal,
the premise for human rights charter. However, nations or specialized groups
enjoy specific rights that apply only to them, especially in multicultural
societies. Human rights by definition are rights that everyone is entitled to
irrespective of who they are and where they live. Human rights are conceived as norms that help to protect all
people everywhere from severe political, legal and social abuses. Human rights
comprise among others the right to free expression, freedom of religion, right
to a fair trial in case of alleged criminal offense, right not be a tortured,
right to engage in political activity, right to life, etc. These rights are
justified on moral and ethical grounds that exist in law at national and
international level.

rights movements in the last two centuries are primarily concerned with
equality or protection from discrimination. This has resulted in political,
social, and economic establishing of legislative safeguards against gender and
sexual discrimination. In 1928, Virginia Woolf says that,

“Towards the end of the eighteenth
century a change came about which, if I were rewriting history, I should
describe more fully and think of greater importance than the Crusades or the
Wars of the Roses. The middle-class woman began to write” (Woolf 64).

rights movements date back to at least the first feminist publication, in 1792,
entitled ‘A Vindication of the Rights of
Women’, by Mary Wollstonecraft, which is considered to be an influential
theoretical justification and vindication of women’s claim to equal treatment. Feminism
is a movement primarily committed to questioning the hierarchical structure engulfing
gender, may be the deepest of all hierarchies. Feminism is mostly misunderstood
as an attempt by women to dominate, which is far from the truth for feminism is
an attempt that does not seek to substitute women for men in the hierarchy but
‘to overcome domination itself’.

the respect of androcentrism point of view, feminists have argued that liberal
rights, to which the human rights are at the very least closely related, are
not universal at all. Analysis of the history of liberalism shows how
individual rights were conferred on male heads of household, dependent on the
labour of women in the private sphere within which those rights did not apply.
It is argued that, given that the individual of liberal rights is actually not
gender neutral, the very form of the liberal law as universal means that
women’s specific embodiment, concerns and interests are necessarily degraded or
neglected. Women’s use of supposedly universal rights can only reinforce male
domination; it cannot bring about genuine freedom or equality for women.

feminist political theorists are now explained to see sexual difference as just
one among others that contribute to inequalities and domination. This
understanding does not simply mean that feminists should always be aware of
differences between women but also that in certain contexts some women may see
their allegiance to some groups of men more willingly than to other women. This
is evident, for example, where women are committed to women’s issues and also
to struggles against structural racism in which white women may have
considerable investment. This critique has particular consequences for feminist
thinking about human rights in a global context. Black feminists have argued
that, where Third World women are judged in ethnocentric terms to be lacking in
human rights, a colonialist logic in which the construction of ‘the Other’
serves only to legitimate the centrality of  man is reproduced (Mohanty 73). It does,
however, lead to questions about the appropriateness of universal rights in
particular contexts, whether on the basis of cultural differences or,
increasingly, in relation to particular socio-economic formations.

since the late 1980s feminists have been influenced by ‘post-foundational’
analytical tools of post structuralism, genealogy, psychoanalysis, and
neo-Marxism in their critical assessment of universal rights for feminist
projects. These feminist critiques of universal rights have taken place
alongside feminist concerns regarding the neo-colonial trappings of rights
discourse and practice. However it can
be asserted, that rights are central to the language and issues of justice
although sometimes rights and justice are characterized as conflicting ideals.
The rights based approaches to justice have been found to help connect our
understanding by making equality of rights a primary requirement of any
conception of justice. The manner in which rights are conceived to empower
individuals directly informs the requirements we place on political institution
to achieve and reflect the demands for justice. Rights can be thought of as
protection, entitlements and claims, can be negative or positive, legal or
moral. Having a right means having a fundamental entitlement to a certain level
of capability to function that is, having a right means being entitled to be
empowered with the genuine opportunity to live a life of dignity by being able
to do certain things, above a minimum threshold. The contents of rights are
grounded in reasoned judgement of a species moral value generally and more
specifically in our best determination of what basic capabilities must feature
is an individual life so that we can reasonably say her actual life is
sufficiently dignified.

Therefore, in eighteenth century, Wollstonecraft
wrote A Vindication of the Rights of
Woman in response to the French Revolution. The rise of middle-class values
liberalism, humanitarianism, and egalitarianism all the values that inform present
Western social and political systems, led Wollstonecraft to conceive of new and
more powerful roles for women as well as for men. During the early stages of
the “bourgeois revolution,” Wollstonecraft desperately tried to include the empowerment
of women in the new society. That her feminist goals were not accepted in the
eighteenth century attests to the great wall of patriarchy she was up against;
that she recognized the oppressive architecture of that bourgeois structure so
early in its construction demonstrates her extraordinary insight into the
problems of her time as well as our own.

The feminist critique of rights regards the
traditional liberal understanding of rights as overly individualistic, as obfuscating
the real political issues and isolating people from one another. The first
world feminist focus on culture, rather than poverty, as the locus of women’s
oppression, for example, misses out the role played by economics in the
construction of women’s identities and concerns in both the first and the third
world. More significantly, because of a history of colonialism and economic and
political exploitation, when initially the world feminists made their aim to
save brown women from cultural oppression imposed by brown men, they were
deeply implicated in the eyes of the third world. Just as feminist critics
claim that Western society is inherently patriarchal, so are its languages,
meaning that our language can better express the “masculine” than the
“feminine.” Thus, for a woman to speak of the “feminine,” she must attempt to
work around the language’s inherent masculinity:

“The challenge facing
the woman today is nothing less than to ‘reinvent’ language . . . to speak not
only against, but outside of the specular phallogocentric structure, to
establish a discourse the status of which would no longer be defined by the
phallacy of masculine meaning” (Felman 10).

It is assumed that a feminist critique of human
rights theory is separation of the ‘private’ and ‘public’, a distinction that
roughly corresponds to the governmental and non-governmental in contemporary
parlance. John Locke denies the legitimacy of the divine right of kings without
challenging patriarchal familial structure. The patriarchal authority was thought
to be divine, political power was deemed to emanate from the governed. A
separate sphere of approach referred women to the home, away from the political
institutions that make policy and away from a substantial role as well in other
‘public’ institutions that determine the nature and quality of life in a
community. John Lock also rendered that women are the subject of control in patriarchal
familial authorities  fathers, brothers and
husbands with the understanding that familial matters are ‘private’ and,
therefore, beyond the scope of governmental authority and intervention. This
resulted in physical and sexual harassment of wives and children throughout the

Feminist approaches lead us to ask particular
questions and to challenge certain institutional arrangements, suggesting
pragmatic and inductive methodologies in seeking answers. The consequences of
this analysis and the alternative visions of society that it engenders might be
quite profound and ultimately as relevant to men as to women. Feminist
criticize that, the term ‘rights’ emanates from the perspective of its
coverage. The coverage can be divided into three types:

Public and
private sphere;

ii)      Individual choice and community interest; and

iii)      Formal and substantive equality. Feminist critiques
claim that the laws are restrict women’s right and freedom by limiting their
participation in the public sphere, while claiming the need for  the women’s huge involvement in the domestic

The constitution of India declares that India to be a
sovereign, secular, social democratic, and republic, guaranteeing its citizens
of justice, equality, and liberty and endeavours to promote fraternity among
them. Six fundamental human rights are mentioned in the constitution of India such
as right to freedom of expression, right to equality, right against
exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and education rights,
right to constitutional remedies, irrespective of caste, gender and class. But
in reality, the Indian society and culture is far away from these rights in
which the rights of women are partial. If we have a look at the past history of
India, then we will find that there was a sati custom and early child marriage
practice in Hindu religion and many of cases that are continuing in the
present. These practices deprived the women of their rights. In India, it is
observed that the women are considered as second class citizens whose main
purpose of life is to take care of their husbands, children and other members
of their husbands’ family. In India, blatant and brutal gang rapes occur
frequently in many states such as Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh are example
of these incidents. There are also cases of acid throwing, domestic violence
stemming out of dowry, rape, harassment, molestation which are the complicated
part of the Indian society. In India, women are deprived of their education
because their parents think that it is unfruitful to impart education to girls
and they are exploited in public and private centred and are forced to have
physical relationship with their bosses and also they are also poorly paid in
these sectors. The conditions of women is even worse in the villages and Dalit
community where they are deprived from most of their rights such as freedom of
expression, equality, right against exploitation and educational rights.

Feminist critiques of human rights claim that human
rights are universal but they argue that in practice the universality of rights
of women is not realised , in fact women are not even included as a ‘human’ with
human rights. The slogan ‘women’s rights as human rights’ and variations on the
same theme reflect the situation, if human rights are really universal, claim
feminists, women’s right must also be guaranteed. Women rights do not stem from
contracts or agreements but they result from the recognition of what women are
and from the consciousness of women’s rights mentioned in the Constitution. It
is necessary to highlight these basic women problems and make them conscious
about their basic rights by showing how constantly they are denied and limited
in the enjoyment of the basic rights.

Finally, feminist commitment to de-gendering may
mean making difficult judgements against supporting movements which conflict
with women’s human rights, regardless of whether women are involved in them or
not. Such hard decisions increasingly arise as some form of multiculturalism
becomes official policy in many liberal democracies. Katha Pollitt has put it, ‘multiculturalism
demands respect for all cultural traditions, while feminism interrogates and
challenges all cultural traditions’ (Pollitt 27), support for women’s rights as
human rights may well come into conflict with multicultural claims for group
rights. It is uncontroversial to argue that, in principle, cultural movements
demanding human rights that are implicitly damaging to women’s individual human
rights should not be supported, though in practice decisions may be more
difficult where women themselves share the dominant views of the ‘community’.
It is surely the case that the project of constructing and sustaining
transnational human rights culture is incompatible with the denial of all
multicultural group rights, not only for reasons of justice, but also for
pragmatic, strategic reasons.

The purpose of my paper is an attempt to prove that feminist’s
critiques not just that extending human rights to women is compatible with
commitments to anti-essentialism and anti-foundationalism, but that it is strongly
suggested by the deconstructive equality that these commitments imply. Deconstructive
equality is implicit in feminism movement, it is important to be clear about
this commitment and the consequences for feminist political theory and
practice. Acknowledging deconstructive equality as the implicit goal of
feminism counters the allegations of its critics that attention to ‘difference’
brings feminism all too close to ‘indifference’. Once the goal of equality is
taken seriously, it is clear both that a progressive human rights culture
should be supported as a feminist project and also that there are limits to the
interpretation of human rights that should then be endorsed.  This paper will be exploring the philosophical
implications of human rights and women’s deprivation.



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