Women and the ‘Business’ of Human Rights: The Problem with Women’s Empowerment Projects and the Need for Corporate Reform

Roseanne Russell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Corporate-led women’s empowerment initiatives appear, in their proactiveness, to be a welcome addition to a range of measures addressing adverse human rights impacts by business. This article questions the claim that these projects significantly advance women’s rights. Instead, they can be understood as a manifestation of what Catherine Rottenberg terms ‘neoliberal feminism’ with women at risk of being transformed into ‘gender capital’ for business gain. This article rejects the claim that empowerment can only be delivered by encouraging women into market-based work. Instead, it is argued that the corporate responsibility to respect the human rights of women can better be supported by reorienting business away from its preoccupation with delivering value for shareholders, towards an approach that values women's unpaid socially reproductive labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84 - 99
Number of pages16
JournalBusiness and Human Rights Journal
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press.

Keywords

  • business and human rights
  • care
  • empowerment
  • shareholder primacy
  • women

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