Embracing Complexity: Human Rights in Critical Race Feminist Perspective

12 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2007 Last revised: 9 May 2012

See all articles by Hope Lewis

Hope Lewis

Northeastern University, School of Law (deceased)

Date Written: 2003


Although the voices of "women of all colors" have furthered the goals and norms of feminist human rights scholarship, the voices of women of color and Third World women have often been rejected, ignored, or otherwise made invisible. Critical Race Feminist and other multicultural approaches to legal scholarship attempt to unite such voices and reveal their experiences and perspectives in feminist human rights discourse. This Article hypothesizes that Critical Race Feminist will make important contributions to the overall international human rights agenda. It identifies four common themes in a feminist multicultural approach to human rights scholarship: (1) the recognition that complex individual and group identities can be both a source of discrimination and a source of sustenance; (2) the tension between universal and culturally relative approaches to the human rights of women; (3) a focus on the interdependence of economic, social, and cultural rights and civil and political rights; and (4) an interrogation of the role of non-state actors in the global oppression of women. This Article further suggests that feminist human rights activists and scholars must be willing to engage the full participation of marginalized groups in redefining and elaborating human rights standards.

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Hope, Embracing Complexity: Human Rights in Critical Race Feminist Perspective (2003). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 510, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=996721

Hope Lewis (Contact Author)

Northeastern University, School of Law (deceased)

United States

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