Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This article examines the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and its judgments associated with women’s rights in the areas of reproduction, religious, and refugee expression. As an international court, the ECtHR seeks to resolve disputes related to violations of human rights between an individual and a member state. Although the introduction of the court has been perceived as progressive for global human rights, the ECtHR’s recent judicial recommendationsindicate an absence of recognition or limited advocacy for women’s rights. In addition to analyzing how women’s reproduction, refugee, and religious expression rights have received inadequate support from the ECtHR, this article will also suggest five possible influences underlying the court’s decisions: namely, the ECtHR’s definition of rights as exclusive of women-specific liberties; hesitancy to override national sovereignty; the minority of female judges serving on the ECtHR’s Strasbourg bench; the court’s consideration of external conservative bodies such as the Catholic church; and finally, that the international court, which relies on member states’ cooperation, is susceptible to politicization and the rising far right. This article concludes with policy recommendations for the ECtHR, describing how the court might be able to move forward with increasing women’s representation inside the courtroom and formulating gender-sensitive case law. By pursuing a more progressive and inclusive mission, the court will likely benefit from increased international legitimacy while re-establishing itself as a distinguished defender of women’s basic liberties in Europe.

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