Women’s rights in the Middle East

Constitutions and consequences

Authored by: Anicée Van Engeland

Routledge Handbook on Human Rights and the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138807679
eBook ISBN: 9781315750972
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613763


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The importance of a gender-inclusive constitution has been stressed by many scholars: the argument put forward to support the inclusion of gender equality and women’s rights is the perception that a constitution, as the backbone of a legal system, captures the aspirations of a society and is a source of rights. 2 Constitutionally guaranteed rights and gender-inclusive constitutional language are crucial to improve women’s experience of law, politics, society, and economy. This chapter illustrates the need to further the inclusion of gender equality and women’s rights in Middle Eastern constitutions in order to ensure that women benefit from equal opportunities. As stressed by the U.N. rapporteur Rashida Manjoo:

The explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in the constitution would not only give women a practical tool to challenge inequality more effectively, but would also serve to educate and raise awareness among the […] society as a whole. 3

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