International Activism and the Women’s Human Rights Movement: 1990-2000

Drew Bryant Headshot

by Drew Bryant, 20C History
2019-2020 Fox Center Humanities Honors Fellow

The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has provided me with both an incredibly supportive and inspiring community of humanities researchers to learn from. Being an Undergraduate Humanities Honors Fellow this semester, I have been able to hear about the work of the other fellows, who are all endeavoring on unique and creative research projects. In this community, I have been both encouraged by those within the Center and inspired by the amazing work that others are accomplishing.

My honors thesis explores the history of activism related to the global women’s human rights movement throughout the 1990s. I focus on international conferences and activist publications as important stages in which activists were able to emphasize violations of women’s human rights that were occurring across the globe. These efforts ultimately produced a paradigm shift in the perception of women’s rights as human rights. My project explores how activists emphasized the overarching problem of violence against women, which served as an issue which could unite women around a global women’s human rights agenda despite the varying interests of women transnationally. Moreover, activist awareness-building regarding the issue of violence against women served as a platform upon which other issues facing women could be introduced into the human rights framework, such as those related to reproductive freedom.

I am ultimately very grateful for the opportunity to have participated within the Fox Center community this semester as it has provided me with very helpful resources and an inspiring intellectual environment.

Drew Bryant is a senior majoring in History with a minor in Sociology. Her honors thesis examines the international activist movement in the 1990s that coalesced around the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) as a vehicle towards protecting women’s human rights. She analyzes the work of activist organizations who were committed to this cause in order to understand why the ICC was targeted as a solution to addressing longstanding issues of sexual violence committed against women in war zones. By analyzing the arguments used by activists and the controversies which sprang from their advocacy, she seeks to evaluate how activists used the platform of wartime sexual violence to construct a broader movement about women’s human rights that applied to women beyond conflict zones.

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