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Wolfgang Benedek, Esther M. Kisakye & Gerd Oberleithner (eds.)

The Human Rights of Women

International Instruments and African Experiences

Wolfgang Benedek /
Esther M. Kisakye /
Gerd Oberleithner (eds.):
The Human Rights of Women. International Instruments and African Experiences.
London – New York:
Zed Books, 2002.
352 pages
ISBN 1-84277-045-4
book cover
Zed Books:
external linkWebsite

With this reader, the editors provide a complete compilation of the international instruments for the human rights of women and highlight the experiences that have been made with the attempts to implement these rights in Africa. Well-known experts in international law, human rights and the law of nations of national and international organisations deliberate about forms of discrimination of women in political, social and economic fields. The articles formed the basis for a postgraduate education programme and for collaborative projects between universities in Austria and Uganda from 1993 to 1999 and their level of quality and information content is accordingly high. The implementation of women's rights is not any easy task to achieve and involves »tensions, requiring the redefinition of concepts such as liberty, equality and freedom« (xii). The book therefore aims to inform women about their rights and wants to increase the capacities of decision-makers in the economic, political, social and cultural fields.

The first part of the book is devoted to international instruments and organisations, which are described in detail, and points to strategies that allow for the difference which continues to exist with regard to the de iure and de facto participation of women in human rights to be bridged. At the center of the interest of experts lies the way in which international instruments have entered the national systems of law of different countries, as well as a comparison between European and African systems for the protection of human rights.

In the second part, experiences that have been made in Africa are retold. There, »the articulation in international instruments is a much easier task to accomplish, the protection of women's rights in practice remains problematic« (Onoria 239). The articles focus on topics such as the rights of women and Islam, female genital mutilation, polygamy, women in the Ugandan military forces and female prisoners in the Ugandan prisons. The role of NGOs and of the women's movement in the implementation of human rights in Africa are also investigated. There is a personalised focus, the writers drawing from their own cultural background – this being something that makes each contribution even more worthwhile and fosters understanding across cultures. From the point of view of women, female participation in the book is to be positively noted, as nearly half of the authors are women.

Daniela Keršic

Translation from the German by Marlies Gabriele Prinzl.

polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 5 (2004).
Online: http://lit.polylog.org/5/sbkkd-en.htm
ISSN 1616-2943
Author: Daniela Keršic, Vienna (Austria)
© 2004 Author & polylog e.V.
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