Women’s voices and issues of gender equality have been largely absent from the current debates around constitutional futures in Scotland, in sharp contrast to their prominence in the run up to devolution in the 1990s. However, it is crucial that women are fully involved in examining the pros and cons of different constitutional options, especially in our current circumstances of economic austerity and welfare state retrenchment. In turn, it’s also important that values and ideas of gender equality and social justice are taken into account from the beginning by constitutional “architects”.
Scottish legal scholars and social scientists are working together alongside organisations such as the STUC, Engender, Nordic Horizons and ERS, and other activists and opinion-formers to organise a joint event on Women and Constitutional Futures: Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland to address this important issue.
The seminar is scheduled for February 14/15 2013 at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and it will focus on the process and content of any new constitution building, drawing from international and UK experience. It will ask what would an inclusive process and equality "friendly" constitution look like? What might be achieved through constitutional engineering? It will also debate how existing constitutional provisions (broadly conceived), international instruments and legal frameworks might be used more effectively to promote women's empowerment and gender equality, including equal political representation and women’s human rights.
This seminar runs over two days. It comprises a mixture of short presentations and roundtable discussions, led by academic and non-academic speakers, where the audience will engage in discussion and debate following presentations from speakers. The seminar aims to draw lessons from international, UK and Scottish experience, and to promote informed discussion and inclusive dialogue about constitutional futures. Facilitators will take notes at the event, and these notes will be used to inform 'Policy Briefings' that will be sent out to different organisations and networks. However, all comments will be anonymised and no participants will be identified.
The seminar is jointly coordinated by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute Programme (for which it constitutes the third of three events), and the Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum, and is receiving support from the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster.