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Understanding Women's Human Rights

Intensive two-day course

This unique and original two day course will examine the international human rights law framework that guarantees the rights of women and critically evaluate its potential to challenge core obstacles undermining the effective protection of women’s rights in the world today.

The international human rights system has adopted both general human rights standards and specific human rights norms to eliminate discrimination against women and to guarantee their substantive rights. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Women’s Convention), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is widely referred to as an international bill of rights for women. The Women’s Convention – and the UN Committee responsible for its interpretation and implementation – arguably interpret the normative international human rights framework more creatively than any other international human rights treaty or body. And yet entrenched discrimination against women persists worldwide, with women suffering human rights violations on the grounds of their gender on a daily basis. So what has the Women’s Convention achieved to date and what role does it have to play in challenging the multiple obstacles that prevent millions of women across the globe from accessing and enjoying their basic rights? This short course will examine these fundamental questions and consider what value the international human rights framework has for securing women’s rights at the domestic level. 

Course components

  • The international human rights framework for guaranteeing women's rights
  • Economic and social rights of women, including access to education, health and reproductive choices 
  • Violence against women, including domestic violence, rape and harmful traditional practices
  • Displaced women, asylum, immigration and trafficking
  • Political participation of women at local, national and international levels

Why take this course?

  • Provides an overview of international human rights law, including general human rights standards to eliminate discrimination against women
  • Explains the specific framework for the protection of women's rights in international law through a series of seminars and case studies
  • Examines from a human rights perspective how to challenge obstacles undermining women's enjoyment of basic human rights
  • Addresses substantive issues of women's rights today
  • Provides access to leading human rights practitioners and academics


The course is convened and led by Jane Gordon|, with specialist sessions taught by other expert practitioners in the field of women's human rights. In 2014 they were:

  • Professor Christine Chinkin FBA (click for full biog) - Professor of International Law at LSE, a member of Matrix Chambers and Acting Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights.
  • Kathryn Cronin - barrister at Garden Court Chambers with an extensive and varied immigration, asylum and family law practice. She has considerable experience in cross-over areas where family or childcare cases involve associated issues on immigration status, or concerning immigration cases where there are family and childcare law and practice considerations. She is known for her representation of vulnerable clients, in particular asylum and human rights cases involving women and children and has represented many persons trafficked for sexual or domestic labour purposes.
  • Jane Gordon - independent barrister specialising in human rights. Together with Christine Chinkin, Jane has advised the Equality and Human Rights Commission on its strategy to promote and protect women’s human rights in the UK. Jane is an accredited gender and sexual violence expert with UN Women and a member of the UK Stabilisation Unit Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative expert team. She has been a Fellow at LSE since 2008 and teaches on LSE’s short course on International Human Rights Law and Practice  and the post-graduate course International Human Rights of Women.
  • Monica McWilliams is Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Ulster. Monica was the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission from 2005-2011 and responsible for delivering the advice on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. She was the co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party and was elected to a seat at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations, which led to the Belfast (Good Friday) Peace Agreement in 1998. She served as a member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly from 1998-2003 and the Northern Ireland Forum for Dialogue and Understanding from 1996-1998. Her published work focuses on domestic violence, human security and the role of women in peace processes.

Fees and administration

Standard (Standard individual rate): £900 

LSE Alumni, Students or Staff are entitled to a 10% discount on the standard course fee. (contact the Centre Manager for the discount code before completing the online application)  

Concessionary (Voluntary sector organisation): £600

Further discounts / subsidies

In 2014, the Centre was able to offer up to five subsidised (half price, £450) places for those would otherwise have been unable to attend. 

Applications were competitively assessed after the deadline, and places awarded on the basis of merit and financial need. 

Discounts may also be available for group (3+) bookings from one organisation / company. Contact the Centre Manager, Zoe Gillard, to discuss.

Please note that while we welcome participants from overseas, the Centre is regrettably not able to provide any additional assistance, financial or practical, in the securing of travel to, or accommodation in, London.