Where Is God When We Need Her? Women’s Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality

72 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 30 Sep 2021

See all articles by Cochav Elkayam-Levy

Cochav Elkayam-Levy

Penn Carey Law, University of Pennsylvania ; The Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew Univeristy ; Lauder School of Government, Reichman University

Date Written: August 7, 2021

Abstract

The right to freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental right of every woman. It articulates women's freedom to follow their aims and beliefs and protects their personal autonomy to pursue their chosen faith (be it theistic, non-theistic or atheistic). It also guarantees that women would be able to freely express their diverse opinions, moral convictions and experiences without social or other constraints. Yet this article reveals that women’s belief liberties are a blind spot in human rights law. The right to freedom of religion or belief has thus far been widely viewed by the international community as an obstacle to women's advancement; Among many aspects of this problem, this article considers the implications of the omission of the right to freedom of religion or belief from the Women’s Convention. It shows that states receive little guidance on how to secure this right in ways that also respect the right to gender equality. It also identifies a conflict syndrome by which women are predominantly viewed through the lens of harmful practices. Lastly, it calls attention to the fact that, presently, no state is being systematically supervised for implementing this fundamental right of women. Examining possibilities for change, the article demonstrates that the right of women to gender equality and to freedom of religion or belief are inseparably linked and that international mechanisms protecting women’s belief liberties could tremendously contribute to advancing women’s equal status.

Keywords: Religious Liberites, Gender Equality, Women’s Rights, International Law, Freedom of Religion or Belief, Cedaw, Human Rights

Suggested Citation

Elkayam-Levy, Cochav, Where Is God When We Need Her? Women’s Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief as Key to Promoting Gender Equality (August 7, 2021). Tulane Law Review, Vol. 95, 1233, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3621442 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3621442

Cochav Elkayam-Levy (Contact Author)

Penn Carey Law, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

The Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew Univeristy ( email )

Jerusalem
Israel

Lauder School of Government, Reichman University ( email )

Israel

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