Women’s Rights as Human Rights: A Panel Discussion

Tuesday, May 4th 2010 at 6:30 pm
Tuesday, May 4th 2010 at 9:00 pm
All Souls Unitarian Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (between 79th and 80th Streets)

Women’s rights have often been treated as a small sub-category of human rights—a mere appendage to larger questions of war, peace, poverty and economic development. In this forum, moderated by Susan Jacoby and featuring Michelle Goldberg , author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of The World , and Marianne Mollman , advocacy director fot the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, women’s rights take their proper place at the center of the struggle for human rights and economic justice around the world. This forum co-sponsored by the Center for Inquiry-New York City and All Souls Unitarian Church. 

Michelle Goldberg argues convincingly that there can be no social or economic progress in countries where women are denied their basic right to control their own bodies and the size of their families, to receive an education, and to work. Whether those rights are denied by religion, repressive governments, or bands of maurauding men who regard women as less than slaves—as in Congo today—the result is always a stagnant and brutal society. 

An investigative journalist on four continents, Goldberg shows that the emancipation of women has become the key to human rights battles around the globe in the 21st century. From the repression of women in radical Islamist countries to human trafficking in Asia and the Americas, Goldberg casts an unwavering eye on the ways in which the denial of basic rights to women acts as a drag on the entire population.  

Marianne Mollman, a native of Denmark, joined the staff of Human Rights Watch—the oldest and most inclusive international human rights organization—in 2003. She is an expert on workers’ rights and women’s reproductive rights and worked in Latin America before joining HRW. As Coordinator of the Women’s Working Group of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, she was one of the organizers of a declaration known as the Montreal Principles on Equal Access to ESC Rights for Women.    

Mollman’s talk will focus on the overlooked fact that the denial of women’s rights—particularly in the developing world—is an international problem and is not restricted, as some in the American media have suggested, to women in Islamic countries.

Susan Jacoby, program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City and author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism , will moderate a panel discussion and question-and-answer session following Goldberg’s and Mollman’s talks. 

The formal program begins at 7 p.m. There will be a canape-and-wine gathering beginning at 6:30.