Deconstructing CEDAW’s Article 14: Naming and Explaining Rural Difference

49 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2011 Last revised: 29 Jun 2011

See all articles by Lisa R. Pruitt

Lisa R. Pruitt

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: February 25, 2011


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is the first human rights instrument to recognize explicitly rural-urban difference. It does so by enumerating specific rights for rural women in Article 14 and also by mentioning their needs in relation to Article 10 on education. In this Essay, I examine the Convention’s Travaux Préparatoires to better understand the forces and considerations that led to the inclusion of Article 14 and its recognition of rural people and places. I also assess Article 14’s particular mandates in light of both that drafting history and CEDAW’s other provisions, and I consider the assumptions implicit in the Convention’s embrace of rural exceptionalism. In addition, I offer some thoughts on the expressive significance of the particular rights accorded to rural women, as well as of the explicit acknowledgment of this group – and, by extension, rural populations in their entirety – in this widely ratified treaty. I thus discuss what CEDAW implies about the character of rurality and rural-urban difference. Finally, I argue that CEDAW provides a framework for spatial equality, in addition to the more obvious and comprehensive one for gender equality. This Essay therefore fills a void in the legal scholarship on CEDAW, which often mentions Article 14 in inventories of the Convention’s provisions, but which has largely ignored both its meaning and significance.

Keywords: rural, rural women, human rights, women's rights, gender, rural development, rural and urban, migration, CEDAW, socioeconomic rights, spatial inequality, uneven development, agriculture, cooperatives, self-help groups, developing world, developed world, CEDAW, health care

JEL Classification: K00, K33 I00

Suggested Citation

Pruitt, Lisa R., Deconstructing CEDAW’s Article 14: Naming and Explaining Rural Difference (February 25, 2011). William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 17, p. 347, 2011, UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 248, Available at SSRN:

Lisa R. Pruitt (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics