International Activism and the Women's Human Rights Movement: 1990-2000 Open Access

Bryant, Drew (Spring 2020)

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This thesis explores the global women’s human rights movement throughout the 1990s. I focus on international conferences as important stages in which activists were able to emphasize violations of women’s human rights that were occurring across the globe. These efforts ultimately produced a paradigm shift in the perception of women’s rights as human rights. Moreover, towards the end of this decade, the law was more expansive in regard to its view of women’s rights as seen through the establishment of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which criminalized a range of crimes against women as war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as sexual violence, sexual slavery, and enforced pregnancy. My project explores how activists emphasized the overarching problem of violence against women, which served as an issue which could unite women around a global women’s human rights agenda despite the varying interests of women transnationally. By focusing on the global problem of violence against women, women’s human rights activists in the 1990s were able to overcome some of the vast differences in interests that a transnational movement undoubtedly entailed. Thus, I will demonstrate that central to the growth of the women’s human rights movement was the way in which activists portrayed sexual violence abroad as relevant to the lives of women globally, even those far beyond conflict zones. Moreover, I demonstrate how the universal problem of violence against women served as a platform upon which other issues facing women could be introduced into the human rights framework through comparison, such as rights related to reproductive freedom and then later in the movement, economic rights.

Table of Contents

Introduction 8

Chapter 1: The Conference as the Site of Women’s Human Rights Construction  15

Chapter 2: Reproductive Rights in the Women’s Human Rights Movement   46

Chapter 3: Expanding the Human Rights Framework: The World Summit on Social Development and Fourth World Conference on Women  56

Chapter 4: The Women’s Human Rights Movement and the International Criminal Court 72

Chapter 5: The Women’s Human Rights Movement and its Early Focus on Violence   82

Conclusion 88

Bibliography 94

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