The Intersectionality of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
This article examines the conditions under which the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Committee) evaluates an individual case brought against a state using an intersectional lens. It also analyzes the extent to which the Committee’s understanding of a state’s culture affects its evaluation of a case from an intersectional lens. As the global understanding of women’s rights begins to encompass a broader range of cultural perspectives and intersecting identities, understanding the jurisprudence of the Committee, which is responsible for interpreting the main international women’s rights treaty known as CEDAW, necessitates consideration for the extent to which the Committee incorporates this broader intersectional analysis into its legal reasoning. Utilizing concepts from literature on intersectionality and culture, the article analyzes the Committee’s legal reasoning in seven cases, comparing them by topic, by state, and by the Committee’s understanding of a state’s culture. It suggests the Committee is more likely to interpret the Convention using an intersectional framework when it identifies a state’s culture as a contributing factor to systemic discrimination against an individual’s intersecting identities, which it is more likely to do in cases involving nonWestern states. This article will contribute to existing scholarship on the jurisprudence of CEDAW by integrating literature on intersectionality and culture to examine the Committee’s legal reasoning in individual decisions. It will also articulate the conditions under which individual women obtain justice for gender-based discrimination under CEDAW, shifting the MUNDI Gabos 2 focus of existing human rights literature from abstract theory to women’s lived experiences.