This article weaves together insights from political science, human rights scholarship, feminist legal theory, and other critical perspectives to explore the limits of global legalism as a primary mechanism for promoting women's rights. Specifically, it examines international human rights law governing women's rights to consider the limitations of law as a mechanism for improving the status of women globally. Although its development has been prolific, formal international human rights law is characterized by a significant gap between aspirational rhetoric and the reality of limited implementation and enforcement. This gap between rhetoric and reality demonstrates the limitations of a universalistic legal framework as a mechanism for promoting significant gains for women's equality and rights. The article investigates the limitations of international human rights law as a tool for promoting women's rights through a close examination of human rights treaty systems, specifically the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
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