SOAS University of London

School of Law

Human Rights of Women

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 2

The international legal instruments for the guarantee of women's civil and political and economic and social rights will be examined for students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the basic texts and the international monitoring mechanisms. Detailed attention will be accorded to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979.  The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Women will also be examined.The impact of certain conceptual assumptions within international law, and human rights law in particular, that militates against the adequate protection of women's rights will be considered. After an examination of the general framework, more detailed attention will be given to certain topics including intersectionality, the rights of LGBTI persons, violence against women, including in armed conflict, refugees, children's rights and development policies. The course will finally consider the question of whether international human rights law is an appropriate vehicle for the furtherance of women's interests.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Reflect critically on the role of international and regional human rights law as it applies to women  in practice and be aware of both its benefits and constraints as an analytical and normative framework;
  • Understand, and be able to analyse, the application of international human rights instruments in and to specific situations;
  • An ability to engage with the various theoretical and critical approaches to human rights and gender issues;
  • An ability to carry out independent legal research using a  law library and legal electronic resources;
  • An ability to construct written and oral legal argument to a high standard.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Exam: 50% (2 hours)
  • Essay: 50% (2000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Freeman, Chinkin and Rudolph, CEDAW Commentary (OUP, 2015)
  • Hellum and Aasen, Women's Human Rights: CEDAW in International, Regional and National Law (Studies on Human Rights Conventions, 2013/5)



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules