This paper is a comparative legal study undertaken to determine the current status of gender rights in two countries: India and Kenya. The countries were selected on the basis of their similar legal systems, colonial heritage and the demographic dispersion of women in rural areas. Using theConvention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as the international benchmark for state behaviour, it examines the existing legal framework, institutions and state policies in both countries to draw similarities and identify differences in each country’s gender rights framework. Drawing from the comparative analysis, the main areas of reform for Kenya are the enactment of anti-discriminatory legislation, new institutions with separate investigative and enforcement powers and an approach away from ‘mainstreaming’ towards gender ‘empowerment.’ For India, the challenge seems to be land reform, particularly with respect to land ownership for women in rural areas. Both countries would benefit from three common measures: a new conceptual legal theory, progressive anti-discrimination legislation and gender awareness education to fight the embedded problem of deep-rooted negative socio-cultural norms.
Key words: Gender rights, CEDAW, Mainstreaming, Empowerment, India and Kenya.
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