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Gender Provisions in National Constitutions and Women’s Rights Advocacy

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Abstract:

This paper examines the use of gender in constitutions and its significance for women’s rights advocacy in Latin America and southern Africa. Constitutions vary tremendously in how they treat gender difference and women’s rights. And there is considerable debate about whether constitutional rights are merely “parchment barriers” or if they have the potential to further social change. Those who argue that constitutions and courts can be a mechanism for advancing social causes generally assert that their effects are mediated by social and political actors. In this paper, we try to tackle part of this debate and focus on the strategies and behavior of women’s rights advocates. We use a comparative case study of four countries to examine how women’s rights advocates use constitutional gender provisions to further their goals. The case study considers two pairs of countries (Argentina and Chile, Botswana and South Africa) that share many historical, political and social experiences but differ greatly in the way gender equality is recognized in their constitutions. South Africa and Argentina both have several egalitarian provisions in their constitutions, while Chile and Botswana have no such provisions beyond a sex equality statement. Using archival research and interviews with women’s rights advocates, we examine how gender has been constitutionalized and how constitutional provisions have informed the efforts and strategies of women’s rights advocates. The case study allows us to evaluate explanations about whether and how the law supports advocacy efforts for social and political change. This research draws upon completed fieldwork and interviews in all four countries.
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Name: American Political Science Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.apsanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Lambert, Priscilla. and Scribner, Druscilla. "Gender Provisions in National Constitutions and Women’s Rights Advocacy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, TBA, Philadelphia, PA, Sep 01, 2016 <Not Available>. 2017-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1129053_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lambert, P. A. and Scribner, D. L. , 2016-09-01 "Gender Provisions in National Constitutions and Women’s Rights Advocacy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, TBA, Philadelphia, PA Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2017-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1129053_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper examines the use of gender in constitutions and its significance for women’s rights advocacy in Latin America and southern Africa. Constitutions vary tremendously in how they treat gender difference and women’s rights. And there is considerable debate about whether constitutional rights are merely “parchment barriers” or if they have the potential to further social change. Those who argue that constitutions and courts can be a mechanism for advancing social causes generally assert that their effects are mediated by social and political actors. In this paper, we try to tackle part of this debate and focus on the strategies and behavior of women’s rights advocates. We use a comparative case study of four countries to examine how women’s rights advocates use constitutional gender provisions to further their goals. The case study considers two pairs of countries (Argentina and Chile, Botswana and South Africa) that share many historical, political and social experiences but differ greatly in the way gender equality is recognized in their constitutions. South Africa and Argentina both have several egalitarian provisions in their constitutions, while Chile and Botswana have no such provisions beyond a sex equality statement. Using archival research and interviews with women’s rights advocates, we examine how gender has been constitutionalized and how constitutional provisions have informed the efforts and strategies of women’s rights advocates. The case study allows us to evaluate explanations about whether and how the law supports advocacy efforts for social and political change. This research draws upon completed fieldwork and interviews in all four countries.


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