Backlash goes global: Men's groups, patriarchal family policy, and the false promise of gender-neutral laws

Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Marsha A. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In every country and every culture, the level of equality in the family has a direct impact on all aspects of women's participation in economic, social, cultural, and political life as well as in their exposure to violence. Its significance as a human rights issue is underscored by the level of overt and covert resistance to the pursuit of equality in families in all regions of the world. This article explores the major local and global expressions of patriarchal resistance to equality in the family, all of which share an antipathy to women's human rights: men's rights movements, a backlash phenomenon sited largely in economically advanced countries; the battle to maintain progress on the international policy level, where resistance is sited in United Nations bodies, using women's lives as proxies for political agendas and frequently calling on the language of respect for culture and tradition; and the adoption or retention by many states, North and South, of apparently genderneutral legislation that in fact results in stalled progress or outright regression from equality norms. It explores the significance of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the critical role of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in identifying the sites of resistance and maintaining state-specific accountability for the promotion of equality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-210
Number of pages29
JournalCanadian Journal of Women and the Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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