PUBLIC LAW AND FEMINISM: CHALLENGES AND EVOLUTIONS IN GENDER EQUALITY
Panel formed with individual proposals.
Feminist scholars in recent years have posed social reproduction i.e., the processes through which societies raise the next generation of citizens, as a question of public law. It has been argued that constitutional protection of motherhood along with sex equality has the promise of creating an egalitarian infrastructure for social reproduction, that recognizes mothers as both caregivers and breadwinners. The terms of the discussion however are shaped by the particularities of the Euro-Anglo-American legal cultures. This paper both builds on and challenges some of the methodological and theoretical moves made in this literature, by focusing on India. The Indian Constitution guarantees both sex equality and provision of maternity benefits. Through an analysis of constitutional provisions, judicial discourse and state policies pertaining to reproduction and childcare, the paper shows how state protection of motherhood entrenches gender stereotypes, rather than alleviating them.
The paper presents the research project of the University of Extremadura (UEx): “Gender equality in the rural and municipal areas of Extremadura: diagnosis and proposals“ during the period 2019-2022. The final objective of the project is to make a diagnosis of the real situation of women in the region and formulate proposals for public and legislative policies to the institutions which contribute to achieving effective equality between women and men. The research follows a double methodology. First, the quantitative analysis of the statistical data collected through official bodies and general surveys of the female population. Second, the qualitative analysis that emerges from the field research carried out through specific surveys, interviews and discussion groups with women in the area. The paper will present the results of these first two years of the research, highlighting the problems which have been detected and the possible alternatives for the formulation of proposals.
By means of UNSCR 1325 introducing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, the UN acknowledged the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women. While this agenda has been celebrated as a feminist victory, contributing to the mainstreaming of gender in peace and security processes and discourses, it has been accused of rhetorical declarations, undermined by charges of essentialism, either naive or purposeful. The aim of this paper is to look at the essentialization of the category women, seen as “victims to protect“ rather than “agents of change“, arguing that this conceptualization originates directly from the construction of the category women in international humanitarian law, and international law more broadly. Recognizing the necessity to move away from an anachronistic concept of women‘s honour to a more empowering understanding of women‘s rights, this paper critically analyses the international humanitarian law architecture in its relationship to the WPS Agenda.
The CJEU case-law on childcare spans decades from Commission v Italy 1983 to the recent Syndicat CFTC, preceding EU legislation on maternity and parental leave. The case-law has over time been lauded from advocating equal care and criticised as stereotyping mothers as primary carers, for example by early on establishing protection of a vague “special relationship between mother and child“ as an exception to its gender equality case-law. Shifts in the evolution of this case-law have not been the result of legislative changes. This contribution looks at structural factors in the decision-making progress, instead, to explain divergence and convergence between cases. If judges have divergent legal perspectives on gender equality, can features such as allocation of the Judge-Rapporteur or use of the chamber system help to create convergence around existing jurisprudence, or to initiate change? Does its consensual decision-making make it easier or more difficult to stabilise case-law?
While the most recent peace treaty in Colombia has been heralded for its “gender“ provisions, the world continues to “forget to implement“ the first feminist peace treaty, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. (It provided for equal pay for women, a provision of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization within the Treaty). This “forgetfulness“ includes the US, which ratified the Versailles “gender“ provisions via the 1921 Peace Agreement with Germany, yet even in its post-WWII Occupation of Germany continued to violate the continuing obligations of the Versailles Treaty by adopting Nazi era laws that forced women to accept 25% less remuneration than men for the same job. Now, in 2021, 100 years later, the US has the opportunity to lead by example by fulfilling the “gender“ obligations of its peace treaties, and with that, influence Colombia to implement its peace treaty mandated “gender“ obligations.