We live in an era of constitution-making. New constitutions are appearing in historically unprecedented numbers, following regime change in some countries, or a commitment to modernization in others. No democratic constitution today can fail to recognize or provide for gender equality. Constitution-makers need to understand the gendered character of all constitutions, and to recognize the differential impact on women of constitutional provisions, even where these appear gender-neutral. This book confronts what needs to be considered in writing a constitution when gender equity and agency are goals. It examines principles of constitutionalism, constitutional jurisprudence, and history. Its goal is to establish a framework for a 'gender audit' of both new and existing constitutions. It eschews a simple focus on rights and examines constitutional language, interpretation, structures and distribution of power, rules of citizenship, processes of representation, and the constitutional recognition of international and customary law. It discusses equality rights and reproductive rights as distinct issues for constitutional design.
Helen Irving holds degrees in political science, anthropology, history, and law. She is currently Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney. Helen Irving has taught political science and constitutional law in several Australian universities since her first appointment in 1977 and was recently Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School from 2005 to 2006. She is the author of To Constitute a Nation: A Cultural History of Australia's Constitution and Five Things to Know about the Australian Constitution. She is also the editor of A Woman's Constitution?, The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation and Unity and Diversity: A National Conversation, among others. She has published widely in journals and in edited collections and is a frequent opinion writer and media commentator. She has been the historical consultant for a number of television and radio documentaries, as well as historical and constitutional advisor to many public and governmental bodies and Justices of the High Court of Australia.