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Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya

Volume 2, Issue 1, June 2010

Sirkku K. Hellsten
Pages 37-57

Empowering the Invisible: Women, Local Culture and Global Human Rights Protection

This paper examines the problems that various contemporary human rights discourses face with relativism, with special reference to the global protection of women’s rights. These problems are set within the theoretical debate between the Western liberal individualism on the one hand, and African, Asian and Islamic collectivist communitarianism on the other. Instead of trying to prove the superiority of one theoretical approach over the other, the purpose here is to point out some of the most common logical fallacies and cultural biases that have led to false polarizations between the various theoretical foundations of human rights discourse. The paper highlights these errors and inaccuracies with a view to diminishing the dichotomies between the various philosophical foundations of human rights, particularly in connection to the promotion of women’s rights. This is done in order to pave the way for more open and impartial political, cultural and gender dialogue in the promotion of human rights both in theory and in practice.

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