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Gender, poverty and the development of the right to social security

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2014

Beth Goldblatt*
Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia; Visiting Fellow, Australian Human Rights Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia; Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Email:


The international right to social security has been given limited attention as a vehicle for addressing women's poverty. This paper highlights some of the issues shaping women's poverty globally that require a more responsive right to social security. It discusses the nature and purpose of social security and examines the international law relating to this right, arguing that recent interpretations lack an adequate framework for ensuring women's interests are fully accommodated. The paper challenges the relationship between the right to social security and traditional conceptions of work that exclude women's labour. It also argues that the right must have application at the transnational level if it is to address the changing nature of women's work. Drawing on ideas of substantive equality, it proposes an approach to the development of the right from a gender perspective including a set of principles to be followed in applying the right.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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