Chapter 20: Oral history as empirical corrective: including women’s experiences in international law
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This chapter adds to a growing body of literature that aims to ‘correct’ the traditional lack of attention to the role of individual women lawyers who have exercised their power as active citizens to participate in the development of international law. The chapter highlights the unique contribution to international disability law of Rosemary Kayess, through a close examination of her oral history, which was drawn from a larger corpus of interviews recorded with ‘trailblazing’ Australian women lawyers. The approach adopted in the study is innovative in bringing together a legal and linguistic analysis of the interview with Rosemary Kayess that offers insights into those aspects of her personal and professional biography that most influenced and enabled her role in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Thus the use of oral history in this study broadens and deepens our understanding of the possibilities for feminist engagement with international law and may hopefully inspire other women lawyers to take steps towards active citizenship on the international stage.

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