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A culturally sensitive approach towards human rights

My name is Siff Lund Kjærgaard, I am a human rights scholar specialised in Arctic indigenous women’s rights and the administrative coordinator of JUST SOCIETY. I am very interested in women’s human rights and the interplay between culture, law and practice. This socio-legal approach towards norms is my scholarly contribution to JUST SOCIETY.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in sociology and cultural analysis from University of Southern Denmark (SDU). My interest in human rights and gender classes began during my semester abroad at University of Melbourne. Convinced that I wanted to study a master in human rights and after a few years of working for NGOs in both Denmark and the United Kingdom, I went to the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Centre of Human Rights (NCHR) to pursue an interdisciplinary master’s degree in human rights.

After starting this master, my outlook on the world expanded fast. Through classes and an internship with the NCHR’s Gender Department, I got a grasp of the practical and theoretical framework including legal and sociological tools. Especially the relationship between cultures and rights and in particular women’s, indigenous and minority rights fascinated me, and I was highly inspired by the work of Anne Hellum.

Due to chance, I moved to Greenland, and combined my interests in culture, law and women’s rights. This resulted in my master thesis Indigenous Greenlandic women’s access to justice. After finishing my degree, I worked as a specialized secretary in human rights at the Greenlandic Constitution Committee. One of the main tasks was to analyse human rights in a Greenlandic perspective and advice on rights-related paragraphs in the draft constitution. Also here, the interplay between culture and rights was in the center of my work.

Thus, professionally and scholarly, I bring into JUST SOCIETY a perspective of human rights as something that is culturally adaptable, and stress that we must understand human rights from an international law perspective but also within a local context. For me, this is how we ensure just societies.

JUST SOCIETY enables such a dialogue across cultures and nations, which I believe can help share light upon rights from different perspectives. Doing so, not only will this help analyzing whether local laws and practices promote or limits rights. It will also add to a more nuances approach to rights and the role of culture.   

Besides my administrative function, I find this culturally sensitive approach to be a valuable contribution to the JUST SOCIETY project. And I’m looking forward to having my mind challenged and broadened by our partners and future students upon how to understand human rights in other local settings.

Siff Lund Kjærgaard

23 April 2021

Responsible for page: Social Science

Last Updated 09.08.2021