Chapter 1: Women and participatory constitution-making
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This chapter aims to provide initial answers to the basic question of whether and how participation in constitution-making delivers for women. The chapter proceeds by first outlining the contours of the debate surrounding popular participation in constitution-making, identifying the benefits and potential pitfalls such participation may yield. The chapter then looks at three instances of popular involvement in constitutional change: the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2012-14 Irish Constitutional Convention and the 2011-14 Tunisian constitution-making experience, analysing the level and nature of women’s participation in all these processes. Subsequently, the chapter evaluates the successes and failures of participatory mechanisms such as referendums, constitutional conventions and public consultations in empowering women as equal participants, and their ability to ensure gender-sensitive deliberations. The chapter also raises questions as to whether participation is to be resorted to in all cases of constitutional reform and the propensity for it to be an obstacle to, rather than a vehicle for, gender equality.

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