Gender Equality and the European Convention on Human Rights

  • Sandra FredmanEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the International Human Rights book series (IHR)


The equality guarantee in Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has often been regarded as an insipid right. However, recent jurisprudence indicates that the European Court of Human Rights has taken a more robust stand. This chapter assesses recent developments to determine whether we can now discern a coherent conception of the right to equality. The article draws on a four-dimensional conception of substantive equality, which assesses the case law according to whether it furthers the complementary aims of redressing disadvantage (distributive dimension); addressing stereotypes, prejudice, humiliation, and violence (recognition dimension); facilitating participation (participative dimension); and accommodating difference, including through structural change (transformative dimension). The article concludes that the judgments have important resonances with this approach, particularly in relation to the distributive, recognition, and participative dimensions. The Court remains cautious, however, in relation to transformation. It also has a worrying tendency to revert unexpectedly to formal equality.


Right to equality Substantive equality Discrimination Gender discrimination Sexual orientation discrimination Transformative equality article 14 European convention on human rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the USAOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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