Since Australian federation in 1901 there has been a significant amount of research into Australia’s federal system of government. Valuable as this work is, initially little research concentrated on questions about gender and federalism. This chapter builds on an approach to scholarship examining the structures underpinning the Australian constitutional system from a feminist lens, by first looking at the historical material documenting Australia’s move to a federal system, highlighting the concerns of the women who at the time opposed federation. The second part identifies the practice of federalism in Australia, as a mono-national federation. Finally, the chapter returns to the principles underlying federal systems to determine whether ‘federal values’ are consistent with ‘feminist principles’. Its aim is to examine the relationship between federalism and feminism, and to encourage the continuing attention to gender and feminist legal scholarship in public law generally and this field of gender-focused studies around federalism.
Kim Rubenstein and Niamh Lenagh-Maguire
Kim Rubenstein and Anne Isaac
This chapter adds to a growing body of literature that aims to ‘correct’ the traditional lack of attention to the role of individual women lawyers who have exercised their power as active citizens to participate in the development of international law. The chapter highlights the unique contribution to international disability law of Rosemary Kayess, through a close examination of her oral history, which was drawn from a larger corpus of interviews recorded with ‘trailblazing’ Australian women lawyers. The approach adopted in the study is innovative in bringing together a legal and linguistic analysis of the interview with Rosemary Kayess that offers insights into those aspects of her personal and professional biography that most influenced and enabled her role in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Thus the use of oral history in this study broadens and deepens our understanding of the possibilities for feminist engagement with international law and may hopefully inspire other women lawyers to take steps towards active citizenship on the international stage.