The Right to Equality: No Girl Left Behind

Human rights’ advocates have long struggled with the fundamental question of whether or not to focus on subgroups of the human community—for example, the rights of people with disabilities, the elderly, indigenous peoples, and of course, closest to our concern, children. Most clearly resolved of these struggles has been the need to pay special attention to the rights of female human beings—as exemplified in the U.N.’s Declaration of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, passed in 1967.

Females stand in the odd position of potentially constituting a majority of the human population by virtue of the many ways in which they are biologically superior (in the sense of being genetically predisposed to longer life expectancy than males), but nonetheless on a global basis of being a subordinate group, with less power, less access to resources, and more victimization than males. For example, the World Health Organization’s 2002 World Report on Violence and Health reports that “In 48 population-based surveys from around the world, 10–69% of women reported being physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives” (p. 15). A study by the World Bank estimates that in industrialized countries sexual assault and violence take away almost 1 in 5 healthy years of life for women aged 15–44.


Emotional Expressivity Female Genital Mutilation Wife Beating Passive Acceptance Intimate Male Partner 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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