Gender Stereotyping in International Law: The Battle for the Realisation of Women's Reproductive Health Rights

Daisy-May Carty Cowling

Abstract


In all forms of discrimination against women, the phenomena of gender stereotyping has played a significant role; gender stereotypes are often cited as one of the most crucial barriers states need to eliminate in order to achieve substantive equality between the sexes. Gender stereotyping and its impact on the realisation of women’s human rights is arguably the most pervasive in the area of reproductive health. Whilst the existence of gender stereotyping can be damaging for both men and women, such stereotyping holds the sexual freedom and physical autonomy of women to unrivalled and relentless scrutiny. Despite the existence of human rights that regulate states’ conduct when it comes to gender stereotyping and reproductive health, as has been consistently outlined in the breadth of international case law, gender stereotypes and patriarchal concepts that aim to determine a woman’s role in society mean that rights such as access to abortion and contraception are endangered by religious and other ideological forces.  It is concluded that states and international human rights bodies must focus their attention on the importance of combatting the harmful gender stereotypes that exist within their jurisdictions to achieve any form of substantive equality for women.


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