This essay provides an overview of progresses achieved for women in the Americas by virtue of the use of the human rights model to further women's rights and attain betterment of their lives. Specifically, this work reviews the location of Latinas both within and outside the United States fronteras. As women of color within larger U.S. society and as women within their comunidad Latina, Latinas experience different multifaceted subordinations. A human rights model that recognizes the multidimensional nature of gendered racial discrimination and of racialized gender discrimination can serve to improve the lives of Latinas as well as non-Latina women worldwide. In order to develop this theme, this work first explores the limitations as well as the promises of the human rights structure. Specifically, in Part I, this essay analyzes existing international protections on the basis of race and sex and explores the cultural dimensions of both race and sex-based oppressions. Part II reviews the protections offered to women by the regional Inter-American system, many of which replicate the protections afforded by the international model. Part III explores the impact that the Inter-American system of protections has had on effecting positive change for women in the laws of many states in the Americas. After providing a general overview of the significance of and need for change, this segment analyzes case law, executive initiatives and codes, and domestic constitutional changes to demonstrate the positive effect that sex and race protections afforded by the international and regional systems have on the lives of Latinas. It also enumerates certain areas where further attention to Latinas' location is necessary. Finally, Part III elucidates that, notwithstanding many advancements, there remain multiple locations of oppression and inequality, conditions with respect to which true equality for Latinas is but an aspiration. Following this factual presentation of Latinas' realities, this work sets out a proposal for reform that is applicable not only to Latinas both inside and outside United States fronteras, but also to women worldwide. Within that proposal are two major suggestions. First, it urges the use of an expanded anti-violence paradigm that rejects as violence against women any acts - public or private - that result in the subjugation of women or their continued existence as second class citizens. Second, it sets out a series of inquiries to guide the analysis of whether any project or proposal will effectively work against the interest of full equality for women. This work concludes that, while there is much work yet to be done to eradicate women's unequal location in their myriad societies and communities, the human rights idea provides much cause for celebration and hope.
Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol, Latinas, Culture and Human Rights: A Model for Making Change, Saving Soul, 23 Women’s Rts. L. Rep. 21 (2001), available at http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/535