Constitutional Engineering: What Opportunities for the Enhancement of Gender Rights?


Waylen, Georgina. 2006. “Constitutional Engineering: What Opportunities for the Enhancement of Gender Rights?” Third World Quarterly 27 (7): 1209–21.

Author: Georgina Waylen


The majority of feminist scholars have neglected the impact of constitutional design to date. But it has recently come to the fore, as institutional engineering has been a key part of the efforts to ‘build democracy after conflict’ (or impose it from the outside), most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. This paper will examine some contrasting experiences of constitutional design (with evidence drawn primarily from some transitions to democracy) and draw out some wider lessons for feminists exploring effective strategies to enhance gender rights. It will also widen the debate from the institutional concerns that have predominated to date, namely quotas as a mechanism to enhance women's descriptive representation and, to a lesser extent, national women's machineries as a mechanism to enhance women's substantive representation. It will focus more broadly on the opportunities that constitutional design can provide to embed women's rights more securely and create an enabling framework that can subsequently be used toenhance all forms of women's rights, not just civil and political ones.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Governance, Constitutions, Quotas, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2006

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