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The Human Rights of Minority Women: Romani Women's Rights from a Perspective on International Human Rights Law and Politics

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This article explores the complexities surrounding the human rights of minority women. With analytical focus on Romani women in Europe it seeks to contribute with new insight into the grey areas of rights issues, where groups within special rights categories share different human rights concerns, by being both women and members of a minority group. Through an investigation of how contemporary human rights law and politics serve to address the concerns of Romani women, it sheds light on the challenges that the Romani women's issue presents to the international human rights framework. These challenges go beyond the Romani issue only and into larger issues of women and minorities. It raises questions as to whether the historical separation between categories of gender and race/ethnicity within the international community in practice has become a gap that isolates Romani women from the human rights attention that they claim. It is argued that in order to strengthen the validity of human rights in the lives of Romani women, as a framework that ensures their full and equal protection, special attention needs to be given to interrelated grounds and forms of discrimination. “Intersectionality” is re-introduced as a concept to frame such new approaches to the human rights of Romani women. The article is a summary version of the thesis “The Human Rights of Minority Women: Challenging International Discourses with the Case of Romani Women”, for which the author was awarded the Martin Alexanderson Research Scholarship, administered by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden. This summary version brings forward the main arguments of the thesis which was an awarded EMA thesis 2006–2007 of the European University Institute in Venice. For this reason it does not present any new findings or data after 2007 but merely summarises the main chapters of the thesis. The thesis investigated the complexities surrounding Romani women's human rights at UN and European level. Thus, national systems and the regional systems in the Americas and Africa are excluded. The empirical data comes primarily from the European region.

Affiliations: 1: MA in Anthropology, Copenhagen University; EMA in Human Rights and Democratization, European Inter-University Centre, UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, Italy;, Email:


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