chapter  9
17 Pages

Children’s rights from a gender studies perspective: Gender, intersectionality and the ethics of care

ByKatrien De Graeve

Gender-biased inequality does not start from adulthood, but also shapes and limits the worlds of children.1 From the moment a person is born (and even before), a particular gender is assigned to that person; and this classification of children as girls or boys goes hand in hand with different norms and expectations. Girls and boys learn how they are supposed to behave, act and react in expected ways, or resist or rebel against these norms, in this way constantly (re)producing gender and the gender order (Lorber, 1994, p. 60). Although both girls and boys can be constrained by gendered patterns of power and expectations, under current patriarchal conditions it is girls who are more likely to occupy subordinate positions. Girls for instance tend to be more often the victim of sex-selective abortion, infanticide and (sexual) violence than boys.2 They often have less access to schooling or even to health care than their male peers and are more often expected to take up more care work and household duties. Girls often experience more (parental) control and supervision and often have less freedom of movement and expression.3 They face more pressure of conforming to unattainable beauty standards and may undergo female genital cutting or other interventions (e.g. plastic surgery) aimed at managing and controlling the female body and sexuality.4