Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty

Edited by Martha F. Davis, Morten Kjaerum and Amanda Lyons

This important Research Handbook explores the nexus between human rights, poverty and inequality as a critical lens for understanding and addressing key challenges of the coming decades, including the objectives set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. The Research Handbook starts from the premise that poverty is not solely an issue of minimum income and explores the profound ways that deprivation and distributive inequality of power and capability relate to economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
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Chapter 10: Capping motherhood

Meghan Campbell


Traditional gender stereotypes interact with material deprivation to trap women into poverty. Throughout their lives women disproportionately experience poverty. Due to a complex web of interlocking factors, becoming a mother can trigger or exacerbate poverty. The human rights framework with its strong commitment to women’s equality holds great potential to accurately capture, and remediate, the relationship between gender, poverty and parenting. This chapter explores the untapped potential of equality law in tackling women’s poverty by examining three judgments on social benefits schemes from the UK. These three cases are put under the analytical microscope as they directly engage with social benefits law, poverty and motherhood and in all three cases the claimants failed to establish the law was discriminatory. In analyzing the interaction between gender, poverty and parenting and why these claims failed, this chapter offers an alternative and richer human rights-based approach to poverty, grounded in the right to equality, that can be useful to all states, especially liberal-democratic states similar to the UK.

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