AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Developing the right to social security from a gender perspective

by Beth Goldblatt

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Law
Year: 2015
Keywords: Human rights; Social security; Gender
Record ID: 1053393
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/54207


This thesis develops the right to social security in international human rights law from a gender perspective. The right to social security is of increasing importance in framing efforts to address poverty. Since, throughout the world, poverty is deeply gendered, it is important to ensure that the right to social security is interpreted from a gender perspective with the achievement of gender equality as a central objective. The gender perspective developed in this thesis draws on feminist theory to reinterpret ideas of ‘work’ within the definition of the right to social security. It recognises the diversity of women and the need to address intersectional discrimination. It uses a substantive equality approach to propose a set of principles for a substantively equal, gendered right to social security. The thesis applies this conceptual framework and set of principles to an analysis of international law looking specifically at the work of four United Nations’ bodies: the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Labour Organisation and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The framework and principles are also applied to an analysis of three country studies (South Africa, Australia and India). Specific aspects of the social security systems of each country are selected for examination within the country studies to undertake a deeper evaluation in terms of the framework and principles. The thesis concludes that the framework and principles could be used effectively within international law to ensure that a gender perspective is built into the interpretation of the right to social security. The thesis finds that in each country studied, there could be improvements to the social security programmes to advance the rights of women and to promote gender equality. The approach to the right to social security developed in the thesis can assist in reshaping the way the right is understood and applied to advance gender equality and address gendered poverty.