ABC for a Gender Sensitive Constitution

16 Jul 2016

Euromed Feminist Initiative is happy to announce that the handbook ABC for a Gender Sensitive Constitution is now published. It is one major result of the work IFE-EFI has been doing on engendering constitution building process for several years now. The handbook is a result of collaboration with researchers and activists from Syria, Europe and Maghreb. It is written by Silvia Suteu, a constitutional law researcher at the University of Edinburgh and Ibrahim Draji, professor in international law at Damascus University. The process of writing took almost one year and was supported by a reference group composed of Faek Hwajeh, Syrian human rights lawyer and civil activist; Maya Al Rahabi and Sabah Al Hallak, Syrian women’s rights activists; Salwa Hamrouni and Salsabil Kelibi, constitutional experts from Tunisia, and Boriana Jonsson and Lilian Halls French from Euromed Feminist Initiative IFE-EFI. The reference group provided the writers with guidance and feedback throughout the different phases of preparation and writing. The common work benefited from the advice of Professor Christine Bell from the University of Edinburgh. This has been a very rich process, powerful and exciting, with in-depth and enjoyable discussions. 


During the 3rd ABC reference group meeting, Nov 2015, Beirut

ABC for a Gender Sensitive Constitution is the first handbook of its sort. While there are quite a few guides for a democratic constitution, this is the first specific guide for writing a gender sensitive constitution.  

The ABC for a Gender Sensitive Constitution aims to provide a feminist perspective on democratic constitution making in a systematic and accessible way. It answers the questions of how and why a constitution that is inclusive of women’s rights and gender equality is needed. What are the entry points? How to debate them? The handbook combines academic research and constitutional expertise with a feminist theoretic approach, substantiated by the experiences of the women’s rights activists in the Euro-Med region and examples from different constitutions and processes across the world. 

This ABC does not only support future constitution building in transitional political processes and post-conflict situations, but it also strives to inspire a critical review of existing constitutions, many of which still lack a genuine commitment to women’s rights and gender equality. It endeavors to become a tool and a reference for constitution drafters, lawyers, practitioners, students, as well as human rights activists in order to reach also grassroots and local communities. One of its major purposes is to bring insights, raise awareness, and stimulate debate on the future of countries seeking to transition to democracy or to boost their democratic commitments by strengthening their constitutional commitment to gender equality and women’s rights. 

Furthermore, the ABC will be a useful tool for journalists, teachers, students, and indeed any member of the broader public who takes an interest in constitution making. We wish that this handbook becomes a reference in educational curricula in all countries in the Euro-Med region and a resource for students of law and politics.

The collaborative elaboration of the ABC for a Gender Sensitive Constitution highlighted the crucial role of constitutions, the role played by women’s rights activists in political transformation processes and the major force they represent for democratic change. In the present global context, this work emphasizes the importance of and the need to promote, both in law and in practice, equality between women and men in exercising and enjoying their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

 

April 2016