LSJ 327 A: Women's Rights as Human Rights

Spring 2024
to be arranged / * *
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
POL S 327 A
Julia Lukens Wejchert
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

POLS/LSJ 327: Women’s Rights as Human Rights
T/TH asynchronous lectures


Instructor: Professor Julia Wejchert (Way-chert) (she/her)
Office hours: Tuesdays 10 am - 12 pm on zoom


Anna Nguyen: AA & AB sections

Ji Hyeon Chung: AC & AD sections


Course Format:
Tuesday & Thursday: Students should watch lecture videos that will be posted on Canvas (under modules) by Tuesday & Thursday mornings. Lectures do not meet live or in person.
Friday: Students should attend live zoom discussion sections with your TA. Students are required to attend the weekly Friday quiz sections on zoom, which will give you the chance to discuss course material and research assignments. See the Quiz Section page under modules for links.
Note: This will be the general course format, but please be sure to review the course schedule for any exceptions on particular days.


Course Description: Human rights offer people around the world a language they can use to make claims in ways that are more powerful than simply making a request. Women’s rights are human rights, yet women’s rights claims have often not been taken as seriously as other human rights claims. Still, people around the world have continued to use this rights language to stand up to atrocities and to demand justice and equality for people of all genders.

This course will acquaint students with many complex issues—political, social, economic, and legal—that shape the rights of people of all genders around the world. It has a comparative focus rather than a United States focus—students will be asked to think critically about various areas of gender & rights while thinking comparatively about the different countries and settings that they exist within. It will focus on a number of policy areas and how they intersect with gender and women’s rights including health, labor, gender-based violence, and more. The course also critically examines the limits and benefits of data science approaches for gender & human rights. There are no pre-requisites for the course. 

In this class we will often discuss the rights of women & girls, but we will also consider how data and policies could better address & protect the rights of people of all genders.

Students will have the opportunity to research a gender & human rights topic of their choosing that is related to the course content. The course will feature interactive learning opportunities in utilizing primary (data, court cases, treaties, policy reports etc) and secondary (peer reviewed journal articles and books) sources for conducting research.


Course Learning Goals and Objectives:

  • Analyze and examine global human rights issues and how they relate to gender
  • Critically assess the limits and benefits of using data to attain human rights for women & people of all genders
  • Critically assess policy approaches and solutions for global rights issues and how they affect women & people of all genders
  • Analyze and examine the impact of gender conscious data on society and policy makers
  • Construct and conduct an independent research project using data to examine a rights issue related to gender
  • Acquire and apply skills to share your research analysis through a Research Paper


Course Canvas site: This will be a place to look for this syllabus, announcements, research links, reading questions, and assignments:


Required Reading: There are two types of required readings for this course. First, there is one required book: The Seductions of Quantification by Sally Engle Merry which is available at the UW Bookstore or through online retailers. Second, a set of required readings including peer reviewed journal articles and primary sources are available through the Course Canvas site under Modules.


Required Lectures: Lectures will be posted each Tuesday and Thursday as videos and will be uploaded to the Course Canvas site. It is advisable to do the readings and view the lecture videos in line with the course schedule as laid out in the syllabus.

Two important points. First, lectures cover major points taught in the course and may raise important points from the readings, but they are not an adequate substitute for reading assignments. Conversely, material presented in lectures is not always covered in the readings. You are expected to have read the readings assigned in the schedule below and to be ready to discuss the relevant materials in a knowledgeable way. Failure to keep up with readings will limit your ability to learn from the lecture videos and live quiz section interactions. Second, some of the reading assignments are difficult and may take more time than you might otherwise expect. I urge you to stay on schedule. The syllabus tells you what to read and when. We are here to help you understand the material covered in this course. Please don’t hesitate to come visit me or your TA in our office hours if you have any questions, concerns or comments.


Assessment + due dates:
Exam #1                                                              available 4/24, due 4/25
Research paper (9-10 pages)                             due 5/21
Final Exam                                                          available 5/31, due 6/3
Low-stakes Assignments/Participation           ongoing, see schedule below

The final exam is optional.

If you DON’T take the final exam, your course grade will be calculated in the following way:
Exam 1: 50%
Paper: 30%
Participation 20%

If you DO take the final exam, but you receive a LOWER grade on the final exam than the grade you received on exam 1, your course grade will be calculated in the following way:
Exam 1: 50%
Paper: 30%
Participation 20%

If you DO take the final exam, and you receive the SAME or HIGHER grade on the final exam than the grade you received on exam 1, your course grade will be calculated as reported on the original syllabus, as seen below:
Exam 1: 25%
Paper: 30%
Final Exam: 25%
Participation: 20%

Assessment in this course will be based on the above criteria. In addition to your performance on the exams and paper, 20 percent of your course grade will be based on your class participation and the short assignments noted in the class schedule. Please inform me and your TA as soon as possible of any circumstances that will affect your ability to meet assignment deadlines. We are here to help. The syllabus marks clearly when assignments are due, enabling all students to schedule their quarter accordingly. If you have conflicting commitments, please speak with us as soon as possible so accommodations can be made.

Late policy for exams and research paper: For each 24 hours an exam or paper is late, there is a 5% per day deduction. Additionally, for exam 1 & the paper no assignments will be accepted more than 5 days (120 hours) late. For the final exam, no assignments will be accepted more than 2 days (48 hours) late. Of course, if there are extenuating circumstances, please talk to me and your TA as soon as possible—ideally before the exam/paper is due, if possible—and this late policy may not apply. This late policy also does not apply to the short reading/research assignments, which are graded on a credit/no credit basis. However, for the short credit/no credit assignments, it is still important to turn them in on time in order to get feedback.


Research and Writing: This course aims to develop research skills. In particular, students will be instructed in and given time to utilize library resources in order to develop and complete a research paper. Further, students will also be asked to do a significant amount of writing and your ability to formulate and express a rigorous argument will be central to your success. You are encouraged to speak with to me and your TA about your writing. Also, the Political Science Writing Center is a great resource funded by your tuition dollars (and thus free to use for all students). I encourage you to use this resource to help you with your paper. Subsequently, students are expected to produce polished papers that are thoroughly revised, proofread, and spell-checked. Students are expected to cite their sources properly, and failure to do so will result in a grade reduction and a possible zero on the assignment.


Optional W Credit: W credit is not automatically earned in this class, but can be earned in this class. Students interested in earning W credit must notify the instructor by the end of the first week of the class (3/29). To earn W credit, students must then submit a completed draft of their final paper by email to their TA by one week before the final paper due date, 5/10. They will receive feedback by Monday, 5/14 to integrate into their final draft of the paper that will be submitted by the normal due date of 5/17. Students should reach out to the instructor with any questions.


Access and Accommodations: Your experience in this class is important to me, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. Please reach out immediately if you need any extra assistance to support your learning in this course. If you experience barriers based on disability, please seek a meeting with DRS to discuss and address them. If you have already established accommodations with DRS, please communicate your approved accommodations to your instructor at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. Disability Resources for Students (DRS) offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary or permanent disability that requires accommodations (this can include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924, Mary Gates Hall 011, or


Religious Accommodation: Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Counseling and Support: The Counseling Center and Hall Health are excellent resources on campus that many UW students utilize. Students may get help with study skills, career decisions, substance abuse, relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, or other concerns.

  • Counseling Center
  • Hall Health


Academic Conduct: I will enforce strictly the University of Washington’s Student Conduct Code, including the policy on plagiarism. Violations of the Student Conduct Code, including plagiarism, can result in a variety of disciplinary actions, including suspension or permanent dismissal from the University. The entire code can be found at misconduct/

I am here to help you utilize proper citation techniques, please seek out my assistance. This course will use the SimCheck platform to help support student learning and proper citation practices. Students will be given the chance to check and edit their research paper in advance. The Political Science Writing Center has an excellent handout on best practices for citation and how to avoid plagiarism.

Notice: The University has a license agreement with SimCheck, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. Your instructor may use the service in this class by requiring that assignments are submitted electronically to be checked by SimCheck. The SimCheck Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced.



Week 1: Women’s Rights as Human Rights: History, Theory, Laws and Data

This lesson introduces women’s rights as human rights: its origins as both a movement and a policy approach. The lesson identifies the key historical developments of the women’s human rights movement and also a set of pre-requisite factors for attaining women’s human rights. We will also introduce key international laws and conventions governing women’s rights. Additionally, we will consider the connections between women’s rights movements and broader gender justice mobilization. The lesson also explores the theoretical approaches to studying gender & human rights. Finally, we will introduce the role data science plays in policies and societal understandings of gender & human rights. This discussion will provide a basis for the critical questions and approaches we will continue to engage as we examine substantive areas of gender & human rights throughout the course.

Tuesday, March 26

  • Bunch, Women's Rights as Human Rights: Toward a Re-Vision of Human Rights
  • Levenstein, The Forgotten Origins of ‘Women’s Rights Are Human Rights’
  • Optional: Bunch & Reilly, Women’s Rights as Human Rights: 25 Years On


Thursday, March 28

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 1 (A World of Quantification)

Reading assignment #1 is due in canvas March 29; please also have a copy of your response available during your first quiz section


Week 2: Women’s Rights and Health

In this lesson, we will examine the ways in which women's health and access to healthcare can affect the status of women's rights. If girls are not surviving childhood and women are not surviving childbearing years, civil and political rights mean little. We will also critically examine the inequalities experienced in global crises such as COVID-19, and the role that data collection and analysis can play in government and societal responses. Additionally, we will examine the recent increase in bills against gender-affirming care in the United States and consider who and what is overlooked when we focus on gender & health rights in a binary way.

Tuesday, April 2

  • D’Ignazio & Klein, Introduction: Why Data Science Needs Feminism (their book Data Feminism, MIT 2020)


Thursday, April 4

  • Hill, Artiga & Ranji, Racial Disparities in Maternal and Infant Health
  • United Nations , COVID-19 and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls
  • View: Reed, Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Assessment Map - February Update


Week 3: Women’s Rights and Labor

In this lesson, we will examine how gender shapes the experiences people have in the labor force and in relation to the labor force. It addresses the key role of care labor—often performed by women—in supporting other forms of labor, as well as the tendency for care work to be uncounted and undervalued. It also brings an intersectional lens to care work to consider how middle- and upper-class women in the paid workforce often rely on care labor performed by intersectionally-marginalized women.

Tuesday, April 9

  • UN policy brief on care work & COVID


Thursday, April 11

  • Parreñas, Migrant Filipina Domestic Workers and the International Division of Reproductive Labor
  • Optional: Hondagneu-Sotelo & Avila, 'I'm Here but I'm There': The Meanings of Latina Transnational Motherhood

Research Assignment #1 due Friday, April 12 at 8:30 am


Weeks 4 & 5: Women’s Rights and the Environment

This lesson looks at the connections between the environment, natural resource management, access to clean water, and women's empowerment. We focus on the basic needs and infrastructure and how these provide the foundation for women’s attainment of rights and equal status. Clean water and sanitation are inextricably linked to women's empowerment. This lesson shows the need to ground rights reforms firmly in a larger discussion of access to basic life needs. We cannot build one without the other. The lesson explores global indicators related to climate change and identifies gender data gaps on the environment.

Tuesday, April 16

  • McDonald, Women and the Right to Water (speech, United Nations Human Rights Council)
  • United Nation Foundation’s Data2X, Mapping Gender Data Gaps in the Environment and Climate Change: a 2023 update


Thursday, April 18

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 2 (Indicators as a Technology of Knowledge)
  • Arora-Jonsson, Virtue and Vulnerability: Discourses on Women, Gender, and Climate Change

Research Assignment #2 due Friday, April 19 at 8:30 am


Tuesday, April 23

  • No new readings for today- study for your midterm


Wednesday, April 24 - Midterm Exam available 8:30 AM on Canvas


Thursday, April 25

No lecture video or readings. Work on Midterm Exam. Midterm due at 11:00 pm on Canvas


Weeks 6 & 7: Gender-Based Violence

In this lesson, we will spend two weeks on the issue of gender-based violence. The lesson is both historical and contemporary covering major innovations in international laws and domestic legal instruments regarding gender-based violence. Gender violence has always played a role in wartime atrocities, but we are beginning to enter a period when both perpetrators and victims are better understood. The lesson also situates this examination of gender violence and human rights in a larger conversation on the role of data and data science in responding to this persistent violation. The lesson includes the opportunity to consider the role of an international court in adjudicating gender violence claims. In the second week we will focus on a particular form of gender-based violence: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Tuesday, April 30

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 3 (Measuring Violence against Women)
  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 4 (Categorizing Violence against Women: The Cultural Work of Commensuration)


Thursday, May 2

  • Cichowski, The ECHR, Amicus Curiae and Violence Against Women


Tuesday, May 7

No readings, instead…

  • Watch Running for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by Rosalie Fish, TedXYouth@Seattle
    (trigger warning: violence, sexual violence, suicide, police violence)
  • Watch two videos from the Seattle Times video series posted under the lecture videos module as well
    (trigger warning: discussions of violence, sexual violence & rape, sex trafficking)


Thursday, May 9

  • Urban Indian Health Institute, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Report


Week 8: Research Papers

Tuesday, May 14

  • No lecture videos. Selected research paper readings. Work on research paper analysis and writing.


Thursday, May 16

  • No lecture videos. Selected research paper readings. Work on research paper analysis and writing.



Week 9 & 10: Women’s Rights and Trafficking + conclusions

The lesson for this week focuses on the issue of global trafficking and the effects on women’s rights. We will cover labor trafficking and sex trafficking and explore this phenomenon at the local, state and international level. Data collection and analysis of human trafficking patterns is particularly challenging. We will discuss new developments in data science in the area of trafficking and critically reflect on issues of measurement and policy development and impact.


**Now Tuesday, May 21: Research Paper due at 8:30 AM on Canvas**


Tuesday, May 21

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 5 (Measuring the Unmeasurable: The US Trafficking in Persons Reports)


Thursday, May 23

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 6 (Knowledge Effects and Governance Effects of the Trafficking in Persons Reports)


Tuesday, May 28

  • Merry, The Seductions of Quantification, Chap 8 (Conclusions)


Thursday, May 30

  • Final review, no readings


Friday, May 31 Final Exam available 5:00pm on Canvas


Monday, June 3 Final Exam due at 11:00pm on Canvas

Catalog Description:
Women's rights in comparative perspective, focusing on varying settings that alter the meaning and practical application. Domestic level: areas including abortion politics to trafficking in women. International level: areas including equality claims before European supranational judicial bodies, rape as war crime in international law. Offered: jointly with POL S 327.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
July 17, 2024 - 2:48 pm