Empowering women to active European Citizenship

The Course

Study Plan


Module 1
Module 2
Choice Module
Module 3
Module 4
Module 5

Module 5

Developing Democracy

Human rights are women’s rights.
A gender approach to democracy debates.

Goals and Background

The aim of the module is in the first instance to learn about the universality of human rights and the content of human rights as the basis of modern democracy. It will show the necessity to formulate and implement specific women’s rights which in a democratic society need to be acknowledged as human rights. In the present European context, with the enlargement of the European Union and the growing integration of Europe into one economic and political entity, women’s rights, like the protection against violence, against trafficking of women and others are burning issues.
The enlargement of the European Union will allow a much closer cultural and political exchange. We want to contribute in this module to the strengthening of common democratic and cultural values like respect for human rights and respect for women’s integrity and dignity as well as respect for our cultural differences.

The aim of the second part of the module is to be introduced to the concept and the instruments of Gender Democracy. The concept of Gender Democracy represents a change in perspective from the view that the (supposed) shortcomings of women form the starting point. This concept projects the interests and needs of women and men towards the goal of a legitimate gender policy and overcoming gender hierarchies.
One strength of the approach is that it is a political concept that offers the possibility of new alliances. The responsibility of men is emphasized and reconceptualized through a reframing of women’s issues and gender political discussions in the context of a gender just democracy.

By the end of the module students should have knowledge of the most important human rights and women’s rights texts. They should be able to argue for the respect of women’s rights. They should commit themselves to at least one activity in the field of human rights. They will understand the utility of a gender approach in the debate on democracy in Europe today and will have some insights into the necessary institutional and mental transformations required.


• Introduction to the debate on human rights – women’s rights
• Universality and indivisibility of human rights and women’s rights
• Body and sexual morality as main theme in the international combat for women’s rights in the 20th century; violence against women; trafficking of women.
• Introduction to the different human rights and women’s rights conventions and significant UN meetings (UN 1948 and 1966, Council of Europe 1949, UN Human Rights Conference Vienna 1993, UN Women’s Conference Beijing 1995).
• How can a democracy become gender just? What kind of institutional change is needed?
• What are strategies and instruments to learn, to train it?
• How to implement Gender Democracy in institutions?
• How do Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Democracy go together?

Leadership and lecturers

• The module will be organised by Dr. Claudia Neusuess Weiberwirtschaft, Berlin and
• Dr. Elisabeth Raiser, Historian and co-Founder of the European Women’s College.
Lectures will be organised in cooperation with women and human rights organisations.
Lecturers to be invited will include
• Dr. Frigga Haug, Professor TU Berlin,
• Barbara Duden, Section “Body Politics“ of IFU (Internatioanl Women’s University),
• Dr. Ute Gerhard, Director of the Cornelia von Goethe Institute in Frankfurt,
• Prof. Christina Thürmer-Rohr,
• Dr. Gret Haller, Bern, former Human Rights Officer, OSCE Sarajevo,
• Prof. Susanne Baer, Director of the Gender-Competence Centre (Humboldt-University),
representatives from the Human Rights Institute in Berlin, a Women’s shelter, an organisation active in the field of fighting women’s trafficking, as well as from the Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Reading list

• Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 1995
• Amnesty International: Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Commitments made by Governments in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. March 1996
• Gerhard, Ute: Debating Women’s Equality. Toward a Feminist Theory of Law from a European Perspective. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey and London 2001. See here particularly chapter 8: Human Rights are Women’s Rights, p. 149-180
• Hearn, Jeff (2001): Challenges and Changes for Men in Gendering Democracy: National and transnational Perspectives, in: Heinrich Boell Stiftung (Editor), Geschlechterdemokratie – Vielfalt der Visionen – Visionen der Vielfalt, pp 34-69
• Neusüß, Claudia (2002): If men are part of the problem, they have to become part of the solution – Gender Democracy: A collective project of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in: Harry and Helen Gray Humanities Program Series, Volume 11, Feminist Movements in a Globalizing World: German and American Perspectives, ed. by Silke Roth (University of Pennsylvania and Sara Lennox, University of Massachusetts, p 30-42
• Women’s rights in the UN. A manual on how the UN human rights mechanisms can protect women’s rights, ed. By International Service of Human Rights, rue de Varembé. P.O. Box 16, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland. May 1995
• Young, Iris Marion (2000), Inclusion and Democracy, Oxford University Press

Useful links

• Beijing Declaration- Platform of Action: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/
• Christian Action and Networking Against Trafficking of Women (CAT). An action oriented guide for awareness raising and social assistance. Ed. CAT c/o CCME 174, rue Joseph II, B-1000 Brussels. The brochure is available on internet and can be ordered by e-mail: ccme@wanadoo.be
• Declarations and texts by the European Women’s Lobby on Women’s Human Rights, Violence against women, gender democracy etc. http://www.womenlobby.org
• European Union and Gender Mainstreaming: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/equ_opp/gms_de.html
• Germany: http://www.bmfsfj.de/Politikbereiche/Gleichstellung/gender-mainstreaming.html
• GenderCompetenceCentre, Humboldt University, Berlin (GenderKompetenzZentrum): http://www.genderkompetenz.info
• GLOW - Heinrich Böll Foundation (Gender Democracy/Geschechterdemokratie): http://www.glow-boell.de



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