Gendering Constitutional Design in Post-Conflict Societies

Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Dina Francesca Haynes, Naomi Cahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article commences with a discussion of transitional constitutionaldesign and the ways in which the branches of governmentrelate to one another, focusing on the consequences of these structuresfor women. We are convinced that an analysis of the rights-bearingportions of a constitution alone is insufficient to fully capture the wayin which power is structured and experienced. Consistent with otherscholars, we start from the view that “constitutions are derived froma social contract between the constituents who will be governed andthe political actors who will govern; they explain how the societyand government will operate and under what parameters.” This articleoffers preliminary proposals on how to make gender central toconstitutional drafting, providing positive examples. We follow withan assessment of constitutional drafting rhetoric and initiatives inmultiple post-conflict societies. We will explore their value and limitationsfor women and offer, in both cases, a set of pragmatic reflectionson ways to undertake constitutional drafting in such a way asto dismantle masculinities currently in effect during constitutionalnegotiations, as well as to give women a voice through constitutionalmandates and implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509
JournalWilliam & Mary Journal of Women and the Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2011


  • transitional justice
  • gender
  • post conflict societies
  • constitutional design


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