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Message from the Director

, : Message from the Director. Instraw News 28): 4-6

This article, which introduces an issue of INSTRAW News that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, opens by expressing support for the Declaration and concern for the gap between the articulation and implementation of human rights. This gap is especially apparent in the stubborn persistence of gender inequalities. Throughout the world, women's rights are violated and their very lives threatened by violence and the threat of violence. Women's advocates have managed to bring the issue of domestic violence to the fore in many countries, but other countries bow to the traditional notion that what happens in the private sphere is not a public sphere concern. Additional threats to the rights of women are found in the trend towards defining identity on the basis of community membership rather than on an individual basis. This ignores the fact that cultures, traditions, and religions are not gender neutral and routinely transgress women's human rights. This also questions whether cultural imperatives in a multicultural world render the very notion of universal human rights inappropriate or whether cultural diversity can be respected without endangering human rights. Situating identity in notions of community can also lead to atrocities such as ethnic cleansing. Another threat is found in the lack of infrastructure to address the violation of the human rights of women international migrant workers and of displaced women. INSTRAW is committed to conducting research to bridge the gap between policy initiatives and women's demands and emphasizes that constructs of masculinity must be examined to transform unequal gender structures.


PMID: 12157791

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