Law and Critique

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 87–105 | Cite as

Space and Law, Gender and Land: Using CEDAW to Regulate for Women’s Rights to Land in Vanuatu

  • Vijaya Nagarajan
  • Archana Parashar


International laws such as The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) promise a universal system of rights to varied people in varied places. In many Pacific states this has been translated to mean that women should have the same privileges as men to control, possess and use land. This could not be further from the truth as evidenced by women’s experiences in Vanuatu, which bring home the visible and invisible spaces of international law. The insights of legal geographers into the spatialised dimensions of social, political and economic activities, together with those of feminist legal scholars into the gendered nature of law, are invaluable in understanding how some spaces are prioritized while others are devalued. We rely on these insights to uncover the prioritized legal spaces of Vanuatu and to locate them against the lived-in spaces of Vanuatu’s women. Becoming aware of the multispatiality of law is the first step in contemplating a landscape where justice can play a part.


CEDAW Custom Gender Land Lawscape Space Vanuatu 



We would like to thank Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Margaret Thornton for their generous comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We would also like to thank the Macquarie University Research Development Grant for supporting this research and to Jaya Keaney for editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie Law SchoolMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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