World Wide Web Review

Websites on Women and Human Rights
by Liz Reiner

[From Feminist Collections Spring 1998]

 

[Eds. note: This ongoing feature in Feminist Collections suggests and evaluates key websites on particular topics. This review is from the Spring 1998 issue.]

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first adopted, exactly fifty years ago, I do not imagine that women's issues played much of a part in the discussion. Since that time many women (and men) have worked to ensure that women and women's concerns are included in the general concept of human rights. For this review, I have chosen to look at several sites that represent the variety of work being done on women and human rights.

Women's Human Rights Resources at the Bora Laskin Law Library, University of Toronto
URL: http://www.law-lib.utoronto.ca/Diana/
Developed/maintained by: Women's Human Rights Database Group
Last updated: December 1997
Date of review: January 6, 1998

This scholarly site is the women's area of DIANA, a joint project of several universities focusing on the legal aspects of human rights and named, appropriately enough, for Diana Vincent-Daviss, a law librarian who worked extensively on human rights. (Minnesota's Human Rights Library at http://www.umn.edu/humanrts/index.html also has a women s area.) The site is divided into three main parts: Internet Links, Documents and Bibliography. The Links section includes a descriptive annotation for each of some ninety sites listed. The Documents section provides links to the full text of various international conventions, reports, and articles. These are mostly external links, each with a descriptive annotation. The Bibliography lists print sources, with some annotations provided. Groupings of the resources in each section range from Property and Housing Issues to Rights of Girls, Reproductive Freedom, and Sexual Orientation. This would be a good first stop on the Web for researchers.

The Female Genital Mutilation Research Homepage
URL: http://www.hollyfeld.org/~fgm/
Developed/maintained by: not indicated
Last updated: not indicated
Date of review: December 12, 1997

I really wanted to love this site and give it a glowing review, but I had some reservations. The reason for loving it is the spirit of the thing; whoever put the page together obviously feels strongly about the subject and strong feelings are a good basis for activism. The site is quite big, containing some source material and lots of links. My reservations spring from questions about the origins and accuracy of the material presented. There is no indication of who created the site, though it seems to be the work of one individual. I have unanswered questions about the source of much of the material and how it has been compiled. There is definitely interesting and useful information on this site, but for serious research I would want to verify what I found here.

Captive Daughters
URL: http://www.captive.org/
Developed/maintained by: Captive Daughters
Last updated: October 10, 1997
Date of review: December 31, 1997

Captive Daughters is a non-governmental organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking of girls. Their site is a good example of how a small activist group can use the Web effectively. It includes "basic information" and "more information" about sex trafficking and about the organization, a "reference file" containing the full text of articles collected from various sources, and an action page with various options for participating in a current campaign. The simple, clear language makes the information accessible to a wide-ranging audience.

Amnesty International Women s Human Rights
URL: http://www.amnesty.se/women/index.htm
Developed/maintained by: Hanna Roberts, Amnesty International Swedish Section
Last updated: December 1997
Date of review: December 31, 1997

Amnesty International USA Women s Human Rights Program
URL: http://www.amnesty-usa.org/women/
Developed/maintained by: Amnesty International USA Women's Network
Last updated: December 18, 1997
Date of review: January 6, 1998

Amnesty International produces a huge number of documents and reports and the Swedish Section's site brings all the publications on women together in one place. There are separate areas for reports from a host of individual countries, news releases, urgent actions, documents and links, as well as information about the organization and their program on women's human rights. The news releases and documents are grouped by region and country. It is not difficult to find your way around, but some kind of search facility would be a useful additon to a site of this size. While the Swedish Section's site is an extensive archive that is geared, perhaps, more to researchers, the AI USA women's page is clearly for activists. There is information on several current cases of women victims of human rights violations, along with recommended actions for each case. The designers have made good use of photos and graphics, adding to the action-orientated feel of the site.

The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
URL: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw [February 1998]
Developed/maintained by: Coordination and Outreach Unit of the UN Division for theAdvancement of Women
Last updated: December 18, 1997
Date of review: December 31, 1997

This page is a good starting point for various women-related UN sites. There is information about the Division for the Advancement of Women, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, with links to full-text archives of their publications. A large area is devoted to the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), including the full text of the Platform for Action and related UN documents. A website can only go so far in shedding light on the labyrinthine structure of the UN, but the extensive archives are a definitive source for UN information on women's rights.

Clearly, these few sites can only give an indication of what is available on the Web. I hope it encourages you to explore further and maybe even to take some action.

[Liz Reiner is a Library Information Officer at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, with a special interest in using the Internet for research.]