Unsex Cedaw, or What's Wrong with Women's Rights

Darren Rosenblum

Pace Law School

July 31, 2011

Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 20

This Article argues that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW” or the “Convention”) has failed to create gender equality because its scope remains limited to women. CEDAW’s focus on women enshrines an understanding of sex as a binary of men/women with a perpetrator/victim relationship. Instead of focusing on “women” as part of a binary, CEDAW should seek to minimize the categories themselves. CEDAW’s very title is its mistaken diagnosis. Its focus on the category “women” reifies rather than undermines gender disparities. This Article argues that CEDAW should instead focus on the category of discrimination women face - sex (or gender) discrimination - rather than establishing women as its sole beneficiaries. By moving toward a focus on the broad category of discrimination, CEDAW would reflect the complexity of sex discrimination in which perpetrators and victims are not reduced to male and female. This binary distorts the reality of sex identity and portrays an inaccurate picture of sex discrimination. Men and other sexes should be central, along with women, to any rectification of sex discrimination. Using a category of discrimination, rather than the identitarian category of “women,” is imperative for the future of this crucial international treaty.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 98

Keywords: International Law, Gender, Women, Sex, Sexuality, Discrimination, Equality

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Date posted: January 31, 2010 ; Last revised: February 13, 2012

Suggested Citation

Rosenblum, Darren, Unsex Cedaw, or What's Wrong with Women's Rights (July 31, 2011). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1545302

Contact Information

Darren Rosenblum (Contact Author)
Pace Law School ( email )
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States
914 422 4663 (Phone)
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