Gender Equality and Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Self-Determination and Culture Heading

The Center’s Anti-Torture Initiative Coordinator and WCL Alumna, Maria Leoni, published a paper on the American University International Law Review on “Gender Equality and Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Self-Determination and Culture”. The paper explores whether international human rights law, by recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ collective right to self-determination, lends protection to certain cultural practices that result in illegitimate gender inequalities within the community. It claims that, while the international legal framework regarding Indigenous Peoples may be appropriately designed to protect the rights of indigenous communities and their individual members vis-à-vis the State and the larger society, it may not be sufficient to address situations of gender discrimination within the community. While conflicts between collective rights and individual rights, such as this one, are often addressed by stating that individual rights always trump collective ones, the essay claims that this approach empties self-determination of any significant meaning and does not provide meaningful option for indigenous women. It, therefore, attempts to provide a solution that is respectful of Indigenous Peoples’ self-governance but is not gender neutral.

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