This book provides a critical history of influential women in the United Nations and seeks to inspire empowerment with role models from bygone eras.

The women whose voices this book presents helped shape UN conventions, declarations, and policies with relevance to the international human rights of women throughout the world today. From the founding of the UN up until the Latin American feminist movements that pushed for gender equality in the UN Charter, and the Security Council Resolutions on the role of women in peace and conflict, the volume reflects on how women delegates from different parts of the world have negotiated and disagreed on human rights issues related to gender within the UN throughout time. In doing so it sheds new light on how these hidden historical narratives enrich theoretical studies in international relations and global agency today. In view of contemporary feminist and postmodern critiques of the origin of human rights, uncovering women’s history of the United Nations from both Southern and Western perspectives allows us to consider questions of feminism and agency in international relations afresh.

With contributions from leading scholars and practitioners of law, diplomacy, history, and development studies, and brought together by a theoretical commentary by the Editors, Women and the UN will appeal to anyone whose research covers human rights, gender equality, international development, or the history of civil society.

The Open Access version of this book, available at

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781003036708, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

chapter 1|16 pages

From women's rights to human rights

The influence of Pan-American feminism on the United Nations
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chapter 2|22 pages

The Latin American women

How they shaped the UN Charter and why Southern agency is forgotten
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chapter 3|16 pages

Excavating hidden histories

Indian women in the early history of the United Nations
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chapter 4|16 pages

International welfare feminism

CSW navigating cold war tensions 1949
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chapter 5|17 pages

Universal human rights for women

UN engagement with traditional abuses, 1948–1965
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chapter 7|21 pages

Who wrote CEDAW?

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chapter 9|22 pages

Creating UNSCR 1325

Women who served as initiators, drafters, and strategists
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chapter 10|8 pages


The restorative archeology of knowledge about the role of women in the history of the UN – Theoretical implications for international relations
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