Feminism and children’s rights: the politics of voice

Lim, Hilary and Roche, Jeremy (2001). Feminism and children’s rights: the politics of voice. In: Fottrell, Deirdre ed. Revisiting Children's Rights: 10 Years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Hague, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, pp. 51–72.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004478435_007


In the 10 years since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been adopted by the UN the debates surrounding children's rights have become more complex, sophisticated and, appropriately, more global. In this chapter we consider the contribution of feminist scholarship to these debates concluding that feminist engagement with children's rights has been partial. We argue that children's rights and feminist scholarship have much to gain from a more sustained dialogue, sharing as they do a number of common concerns. The first part of this chapter examines the 'participation rights' of the CRC, noting the radical potential of these provisions, and the contribution to date of feminism to the children's rights literature. We then consider feminist scepticism about rights in general and children's rights in particular before examining alternative feminist approaches to rights, including children's rights. In the third section we return to a direct consideration of the radical potential of children's rights. Inspired by the work of Drucilia Cornell we suggest a need to re-imagine children's rights, together with associated ideas of dependency and vulnerability. We conclude by setting out some of the shared intellectual ground of feminist and children's rights scholars, speculating on how this scholarship might develop in the future.

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