BRIDGE Report 49: Human Rights and Poverty: A Gender Analysis

Author: S. Baden, Z. Oxaal
Publisher: Institute of Development Studies UK
Publication Date: May 1996
Poor enforceability of women's rights in the home, over property, and in the labour market mean that women are more vulnerable to poverty than men. Poverty drives women into situations where they become vulnerable to harassment and abuse in their attempts to secure a livelihood. Economic insecurity may constrain women to stay in situations where their rights are being violated, for example, through domestic violence. Women are affected by feelings of 'powerlessness' in the face of abuse. Conventional channels of legal redress often are, or seem, inaccessible or ineffective to poor women. Gender analysis suggests the need for greater focus in donor assistance on the use of human rights and legal instruments to secure women's economic and social rights. This must include attention to implementation and enforcement of existing legal and human rights of relevance to women at international, national and local levels. Alongside legal reform, there is a need to promote the participation of women in debates on legal and constitutional reform; and for support to existing NGOs working with poor communities to provide gender-sensitive legal awareness, advocacy and aid, as well as human rights education.