Implementing Human Rights Standards for Women

A Multinational Examination of How International Standards Become Practices, Laws, and Policies


International human rights treaties reflect the commitments of governments to their inhabitants and the global community. However, the rights and protections contained in these treaties are only truly realized when they are incorporated into national, local, and institutional laws, policies, and practices. This proposal involves two studies that will examine how and the extent to which international human rights standards have been domesticated and implemented through improved policies and practices to support the protection of women’s human rights.

Three specific international instruments are considered: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (i.e. “the Bangkok Rules”). Two corresponding sub-projects, the first of which takes a comprehensive global perspective and the second of which focuses on the human rights of women in state custody, are presented in the following sections.   

Participating Faculty

Gina Fedock, Assistant Professor, UChicago School of Social Service Administration 
Claudia Flores, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, UChicago Law School

Project Activities  

Year 1: June 2018May 2019

For Year 1, the Constitutional Reform study engaged in quantitative analysis of the collected data. The data was entered into statistical software to conduct necessary regression analyses and the results organized and presented using econometric models. The results of this data analysis were examined and then narrated in report format. Interactive, online platforms may be developed, such as an interactive diabetes prevalence map. The final report will be designed, printed, and launched.      

Researchers held a small symposium during which the report was publicly launched and the impact of constitutional reform on women’s rights was discussed, along with other stakeholders from academia and the field working on relevant issues.   

Year 2: June 2019May 2020

During Year 2, an event tentatively titled, “Human Rights in the World of Women’s Prisons: The Status of the Bangkok Rules” will be planned at the University of Chicago with two overarching goals. We envision hosting a human rights panel with speakers from various organizations that are local, national, and international in scope. Speakers will be invited to discuss prison conditions for women and the implementation of the Bangkok Rules and may include both research scholars and representatives from human rights organizations locally and globally.

This panel will be open to University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty and to the larger community. It may also be recorded for University archives and later public viewing, as well as live-streamed. As a companion to this panel, the second component of this event will be a working meeting for relationship-building with scholars and representatives of human rights-oriented organizations.   

This event will contextualize the University of Chicago as an institution invested in the promotion of human rights standards with a global impact for incarcerated women. A human rights workshop focused on the comparative study may also be held for graduate students at the University.