Migration, Development, and the Promise of CEDAW for Rural Women

Part I of this Essay provides an overview of the rural-to-urban migration phenomenon, a trend the author calls the urban juggernaut. This Part includes a discussion of forces compelling the migration, and it also considers consequences for those who are left behind when their family members and neighbors migrate to cities. Part II explores women’s roles in food production in the developing world, and it considers the extent to which international development efforts encourage or entail urbanization. Part III attends to the potential of human rights for this population, analyzing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which, in Article 14, enumerates particular rights for rural women. This Part further considers how four countries-China, Ghana, India, and the Republic of South Africa-have responded to their Article 14 commitments. Part IV concludes with thoughts on how law and legal institutions-including those related to development efforts-might best serve rural women. It begins also to consider how the role of law might differ in rural contexts. Part V, as postscript, contemplates the consequences of letting migration’s urban juggernaut run its course.