Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Analyzing the Evolution of LGBTQ Rights Litigation in the European Court of Human Rights

Laurence R. Helfer & Clare Ryan, Contesting Sexual Orientation Rights Before the ECtHR,  International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare (Siri Gloppen & Malcolm Langford eds., 2023)

This chapter, a contribution to an edited volume on "International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Lawfare," analyzes the evolution of lesbian and gay rights litigation before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Between 2010 and 2020, the ECtHR issued fifty-seven merits judgments involving a broad array of sexual orientation issues—a sharp expansion from the number of such decisions in earlier periods. The growing number of cases reflects the fact that sexual orientation rights have become increasingly contested across Europe. We explain the reasons for this trend and predict that recent ECtHR judgments concerning same-sex partnerships and asylum are poised to further exacerbate these contestations.

In addition, we offer insights into the research questions identified in the Introduction to the edited volume. We emphasize the strategic decisions of actors who turn to the ECtHR as a sympathetic venue for expanding lesbian and gay rights across Europe and, separately, to provide a bulwark against repression by some states. We identify the political and social factors that push these cases to the Court and the doctrines it applies when adjudicating these disputes. We then discuss the nation-level protections that ECtHR litigation has historically engendered and how recent cases have increased the risk of noncompliance with ECtHR judgments concerning sexual orientation rights. Finally, we investigate whether the Court can maintain its legitimacy and avoid politicizing sexual orientation rights cases in light of the growing contestations over those rights across Europe.

January 25, 2023 in Courts, International, LGBT | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Gender Gaps in Legal Education and the Impact of Class Participation Assessments

Kenneth Khoo & Jaclyn Neo, Gender Gaps in Legal Education: The Impact of Class Participation Assessments 

The gender gap is a well-studied phenomenon in education policy. While prior research has illustrated the presence of this gap in U.S. Law Schools, questions remain as to whether these findings are generalizable to other jurisdictions where national, cultural, historical, institutional and societal norms are substantially different. In this article, we investigate the presence and nature of a gender gap in one of Asia’s leading law schools, the National University of Singapore (“NUS Law”). Employing a novel dataset with granular data on student, instructor, course, and component characteristics, we provide evidence that the gender gap persists over numerous cohorts of students. Even after controlling for a wide range of covariates such as standardized entry scores, high school rankings, income proxies, and a large array of fixed effects, female students systemically underperform their male counterparts across numerous metrics of law school performance. To examine the plausibility of possible causal mechanisms behind the gender gap, we exploit a natural experiment in which NUS Law randomly assigned first and second-year students to a range of mandatory courses with different class participation assessment weights. We provide evidence that female students who were assigned to courses with larger class participation weights had relatively lower class participation scores when compared to male students. Remarkably, however, policies that permitted female students to choose their courses in their third and fourth years eliminated this negative relationship – even after accounting for heterogeneity across class sizes and course choices. Our work suggests that pedagogical policy should consider the relationship between assessment modes and female student autonomy in narrowing the gender gap in legal education.

December 1, 2022 in Education, Gender, International, Law schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Why Democracy is Proving so Powerful for Protecting Abortion

Rachel Rebouche & Mary Ziegler, Why Direct Democracy is Proving so Powerful for Protecting Abortion, The Atlantic

Ballot initiatives—not party politics—are allowing new majorities to emerge in support of more lenient abortion policies.

The news for abortion rights in Tuesday’s midterm election was stunning. In five states—CaliforniaKentucky, Montana, Michigan, and Vermont—voters went to the polls and either rejected an anti-abortion measure or added abortion rights to their state constitution. Just months earlier, Kansas, a conservative state with a history of intense anti-abortion activism, shocked the country by voting to protect state abortion rights by a significant margin.

The lesson here goes beyond the unpopularity of many abortion restrictions. With the reversal of Roe v. Wade, people have looked primarily to political parties to defend abortion rights (or undo them)—and have come to expect outcomes that break cleanly along partisan lines. The results of these latest ballot measures suggest that we’ve underestimated the abortion-rights protections that direct democracy—not party politics—can produce. The fact is that disentangling questions about abortion from political affiliation may provide one of the best ways to protect or to restore abortion access in red and purple states, at least in the short run.

Lessons on how and why can be gleaned from an effort that took place an ocean away: Ireland’s 2018 campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which had, since 1983, recognized fetal rights and thus banned abortion. In subsequent years, the country was repeatedly chastised by the European Court of Human Rights for violating the human rights of women, but it was able to resist many demands for change by insisting that the country had democratically established its strong consensus in favor of fetal rights. In reality, support for legal abortion grew over the years, fueled, in part, by outrage over the death of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died of sepsis after being refused an abortion following an incomplete miscarriage.

November 17, 2022 in Abortion, Constitutional, International, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Different Facets of Feminist Lawyering in India

Shalu Nigam, Different Facets of Feminist Lawyering in India 

Much is being written about feminist lawyering in the West, but what is the purpose of feminist lawyering in the patriarchal context in third-world nations? While reflecting on case laws and activism in India, this essay argues that feminist lawyering in a profoundly hierarchical society is a much broader concept than that of traditional lawyering where a lawyer works not to `win the case’ but aims at the larger goals of eliminating inequalities, eradicating oppression, challenging sexist stereotypes, abolishing fascism and addressing conditions that perpetuate domination. In a society, where citizenship rights are denied to specific groups based on social parameters such as gender, race, caste, class or religion, feminist lawyering in such a context has to be understood broadly as a practice that supports those on the margins while holding the state accountable. It is about questioning the androcentric norms within and outside the courtrooms, asking the law, courts and society to be sensitive about gender concerns and to recognize and enforce the citizenship rights of half of humanity. This essay concludes that the purpose of feminist lawyering is to negotiate and contest the rights at various levels where feminist lawyers strive to transform the androcentric law and the layered, hierarchical society with the aim to enforce constitutional provisions of equality, liberty and social justice in reality.

November 11, 2022 in International, Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Study of Women Judges in Pacific Island Courts Concludes that Appointment of Women Helps, in Part to Affirm Gender Justice

Anna Dziedzic, "To Join the Bench and Be Decision-Makers": Women Judges in Pacific Island Judiciaries" 
In Melissa Crouch (ed.), Women and the Judiciary in the Asia-Pacific (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021) 29-65

Studies of women in leadership in the Pacific tend to focus on the under-representation of women in the political branches of government. The number and role of women in the judicial branch has received less attention. Male judges outnumber women judges across the region, but the reasons for this, and its implications, have not been the subject of detailed study. This chapter provides a history and comparative analysis of the appointment of women judges in the Pacific, focusing on the nine states of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It presents empirical data on the composition of the superior courts in these states, including judges’ gender and professional background. It examines how the criteria and processes for judicial appointment – including the distinctive use of foreign judges – affect the appointment of women to the judiciary. Finally, the chapter considers why it matters whether women are included on Pacific judiciaries, drawing on reflections by women who have served as judges in the region; scholarship on law and gender; and an examination of high-profile cases in which women judges have presided. The analysis suggests that the appointment of women judges to Pacific judiciaries cannot, in and of itself, correct all the harmful gender biases in law and society. However, the appointment of women judges in greater number would counter some of the harmful stereotypes about women that persist in Pacific societies and contribute to work across a range of sectors in Pacific states to ensure that the law meets the needs of women and affirms gender justice.

October 27, 2022 in Courts, Gender, International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Implicit Gender Effects in Denying Patents under Australian Law

Vicki Huang, Sue Finch & Cameron Patrick, Patents and Gender: A Big Data Analysis of 15 Years of Australian Patent Applications, 45 Univ. New South Wales L. J. (2022).

Recent recommended changes to Australia’s patent laws could narrow the scope of patentable inventions. We argue this could have a comparatively bigger impact on female inventors who we find clustered in the life sciences. We examine 309,544 patent applications filed with IP Australia (the majority from international applicants) across a 15-year period (2001–15) and attribute a gender to 941,516 inventor names. Only 23.6% of patent applications in this dataset include at least 1 female inventor. The average overall success rate irrespective of gender was 75.0%, but the odds of success increased with increasing numbers of male inventors on a team. The addition of female inventors to a team did not have the same effect. We propose that the gender disparity could arise from implicit gender effects (examiner or patentee) during patent prosecution. https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/article/patents-and-gender-a-big-data-analysis-of-15-years-of-australian-patent-applications

October 26, 2022 in International, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2022

Ana Micaela Alterio on "Latin American Feminists, Gender, and the Binary System of Human Rights Protection"

Ana Micaela Alterio has published Latin American Feminists, Gender, and the Binary System of Human Rights Protection in volume 116 of the American Journal of International Law published online by Cambridge University Press (2022).  

On March 26, 2021, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found Honduras responsible for the killing of Vicky Hernández, a trans woman and human rights defender. The Vicky Hernández et al. v. Honduras judgment is the first in which an international court has protected a trans woman by applying a human rights treaty that protects women. It thus provides an opportunity to analyze the impact of feminist ideas on the system of human rights protection at the regional level, with implications for international law more generally. In this essay, I defend the Inter-American Court's majority decision against the dissenting opinions, by arguing that the political subject of human rights is dynamic and emergent and, therefore, positive law is often one step behind in the struggles for recognition. For this reason, we need interpretations of rights that are inclusive, that evolve, and that push for the destabilization of law as binary, allowing the emergence of a more egalitarian legal system that recognizes intersectionality.

 

October 24, 2022 in International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

India's Supreme Court Gives Equal Abortion Access to Single Women

India's Top Court Gives Equal Abortion Access to All Women

India’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that all women, regardless of marital status, can obtain abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancies.

Previously, under India’s abortion law, married women could have abortions up to 24 weeks into their pregnancies, but single women were limited to 20 weeks. On Thursday, the court extended the 24-week period to all women.

The judgment was cheered by reproductive rights activists, who said the court had ensured that the law does not discriminate and expands the right to safe and legal abortions to single women.

“Now, all the rights that married women have, single women will also have,” said Aparna Chandra, an associate professor of law at the National Law School of India, who works on reproductive justice. In its judgment, the court “breaks away from the stigma that is attached to single women getting pregnant,” she said.

Abortion has been legal in India since 1971 under the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act. In 2021, the law was amended to allow certain categories of women -- including married women who were divorced or widowed, minors, rape victims or mentally ill women -- to obtain abortions up to 24 weeks, raising it from the previous 20 weeks. But the changes did not include single women, causing many to question why the law differentiated on the basis of marital status.

 

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October 5, 2022 in Abortion, International, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 26, 2022

International Safe Abortion Day on September 28th

Wednesday is International Safe Abortion Day. The Center for Reproductive Rights has an updated map on the world's abortion laws: 

The World Abortion Laws Map is the definitive record of the legal status of abortion in countries across the globe. Since 1998, the Center for Reproductive Rights has produced this map as a resource for advocates, government officials, and civil society organizations working to advance abortion rights as human rights for women and girls* around the globe. The map categorizes the legal status of abortion on a continuum from severe restrictiveness to relative liberality. It is updated in real time, reflecting changes in national laws so human rights advocates can monitor how countries are protecting—or denying—reproductive rights around the world.

The site includes a very useful infographic visually depicting 25 years of progress with nearly 50 countries liberalizing their abortion laws over time.  It also includes a summary of recent developments in abortion law and policy. 

 

September 26, 2022 in Abortion, International, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

CFP International Research Conference on Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law in Athens, Greece

International Conference on Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law

The International Research Conference Aims and Objectives

The International Research Conference is a federated organization dedicated to bringing together a significant number of diverse scholarly events for presentation within the conference program. Events will run over a span of time during the conference depending on the number and length of the presentations. With its high quality, it provides an exceptional value for students, academics and industry researchers.

International Conference on Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law.

Call for Contributions

Prospective authors are kindly encouraged to contribute to and help shape the conference through submissions of their research abstracts, papers and e-posters. Also, high quality research contributions describing original and unpublished results of conceptual, constructive, empirical, experimental, or theoretical work in all areas of Feminist Legal Theory, Gender and Law are cordially invited for presentation at the conference. The conference solicits contributions of abstracts, papers and e-posters that address themes and topics of the conference, including figures, tables and references of novel research materials.

September 20, 2022 in Call for Papers, Conferences, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Canadian Court Feminizes Child Support by Centering it as a Right of the Child

Jodi Lazare & Kelsey Warr, A Gender-Based Approach to Historical Child Support: Comment on Colucci v Colucci. Canadian Journal of Family Law 2022

In June 2021 the Supreme Court of Canada (the “Court”) released Colucci v Colucci, its second decision in twelve months dealing with the complex subject of historical (commonly referred to as retroactive) child support. The case worked a significant shift in the law, arguably the first major revision to the law since the Court’s initial consideration of historical child support in DBS, in 2006. This comment suggests that Colucci represents a new understanding of the way that claims for historical child support should be considered in Canadian family law. The comment argues that in changing the applicable framework, the Court has endorsed a gendered approach to historical child support law that responds to many of the concerns that flowed from DBS.

Drawing on the text of the decision, as well as relevant case law and scholarship, we outline the theoretical foundations for the changes brought by Colucci, as well as their practical implications. We suggest that in clarifying child support as the right of the child, decreasing the emphasis on certainty for payors, and stressing the necessity of financial disclosure, the Court has feminized the law of historical child support. We explain how, using that feminist lens, Colucci modifies the framework for adjudicating historical child support claims, by creating a presumption in favour of an award in the presence of a change of income, softening the three-year time limit of so-called retroactivity, and repositioning and reconceptualizing the DBS factors which now inform how far back a historical child support award should go. In fleshing out and analyzing these changes, we consider the ways in which Colucci may better serve to promote substantive gender equality in historical child support law by responding to women and children’s lived realities.

September 15, 2022 in Courts, Family, International, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

New Book on the UK's Married Women's Association and Reform of Family Law in the Mid-20th Century

Sharon Thompson, Quiet Revolutionaries: The Married Women's Association and Family Law

This book tells the untold story of the Married Women's Association. Unlike more conventional histories of family law, which focus on legal actors, it highlights the little-known yet indispensable work of a dedicated group of life-long activists.

Formed in 1938, the Married Women's Association took reform of family property law as its chief focus. The name is deceptively innocuous, suggesting tea parties and charity fundraisers, but in fact the MWA was often involved in dramatic confrontations with politicians, civil servants, and Law Commissioners. The Association boasted powerful public figures, including MP Edith Summerskill, authors Vera Brittain and Dora Russell, and barrister Helena Normanton. They campaigned on matters that are still being debated in family law today.

Quiet Revolutionaries sheds new light upon legal reform then and now by challenging longstanding assumptions, showing that piecemeal legislation can be an effective stepping stone to comprehensive reform and highlighting how unsuccessful bills, though often now forgotten, can still be important triggers for change. Drawing upon interviews with members' friends and family, and thousands of archival documents, the book is compulsory reading for lawyers, legal historians, and anyone who wishes to explore histories of law reform from the ground up.

See also Sharon Thompson, The Untold Story of a Mid-20th Century Group of Women Fighting for Equality in Marriage and Why It Matters Today

In 1938, a group of feminist agitators came together in London to tackle what they saw as the most pressing issue of their time: inequality in marriage. For the Married Women’s Association, the right to vote – won for women over 30 in 1918 – was just the beginning of women’s emancipation. The legal status of housewives was next.

If you were a married woman in the early 20th century, you had no rights in your home, nor in the housekeeping money your husband gave you, nor even in the bed you slept in, unless you had used your own money to buy it.

You were also paid less than men, while all the work in the home was exclusively your domain and was unpaid. Your husband, by contrast, would be paid an inflated income to support his dependants, termed a “family wage”, to which, ironically, you had no rights to whatsoever. In the eyes of the law, you were essentially invisible.

These women’s story has long been overlooked. As I show in my new book, Quiet Revolutionaries (and accompanying podcast), what they were fighting for remains highly topical.

September 13, 2022 in Books, Family, International, Legal History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Growing Gender Pay Gap from COVID Resignations and Suggestions for Reform

Amy Soled, Gender Pay Disparity, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Need for Reform, 87 Brooklyn L. Rev. 953 (2022) 

 The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened systemic inequities in the United States. One such inequity is gender discrimination in the labor market, evidenced by pay disparity—the difference between women’s and men’s wages. During the pandemic, women left the workforce at double the rate of men. This employment disruption will negatively affect women’s wages upon their return, as well as their lifetime earnings, further widening the pay gap. Pay disparity exploits more than half of the population, decreases gross national product, and stymies economic growth. This article addresses the reasons why existing legislation has failed to close the pay gap. Relying on the framework of successful Icelandic legislation, which has helped narrow gender pay disparities in Iceland, this article proposes federal legislative reform measures designed to shift the burden of proving wage discrimination from the employee to the employer. Instituting these changes would diminish the effect of implicit gender biases and, correspondingly, reduce pay disparity.

August 24, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2022

Study Shows Effects from French Law Reform Requiring 40 Percent Gender Quota on Corporate Boards

Francois-Xavier Ladant & Louise Paul-Delvaux, "Women on Boards: Evidence from a French Reform Imposing a 40 Percent Gender Board Quota" 

In 2010 the French government mandated a 40% gender quota on corporate boards to be met by January 2017. The policy raised the average female board share of publicly traded firms from 10.3% in 2009 to 43% in 2019. We examine the effects of this staggering increase, leveraging new data on 200 French publicly traded firms from 2006 to 2019. Newly appointed female board members are as qualified as their male counterparts and less likely to have any family connection with incumbent board members. Female board members are also accessing powerful positions within the boardroom (committee membership and chairmanship). We then assess how these changes in corporate board composition (i) impact the implementation of board prerogatives and (ii) influence gender imbalances within the firm. Using an IV strategy exploiting the fact that the 40% threshold was set exogenously by the government and a Difference-in-Differences strategy comparing firms differently exposed to the quota, we show that an increase in the share of female board members has impacts at the very top. Indeed, we observe changes in practices that are aligned with better governance, higher likelihood of having a female CEO, and increased female representation in the top management. Beyond the very top of the firms’ hierarchy, an increase in the female board share has no or even negative impact on gender wage or promotion gaps.

July 22, 2022 in Business, International, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 24, 2022

Scottish Bill Would Pardon Thousands of Women Convicted and Executed as Witches

Thousands of Witches Could be Posthumously Pardoned in Scotland

Thousands of people were convicted of practicing witchcraft in Scotland in a hunt that spanned nearly two centuries — and the majority of those sentenced to death and executed were women. Many were also tortured.

 

Now, a bill proposed in the Scottish Parliament is trying to set the record straight, said Natalie Don, a Scottish lawmaker who introduced the proposal. It could allow for posthumous pardons to thousands of women who faced convictions hundreds of years ago.

 

The pardons would ensure they are “recognized as victims of a miscarriage of justice and are no longer recorded in history as criminals,” Don said Thursday in a video.

 

Calls for legal pardons for “witches” or “necromancers” have gathered pace in Scotland, where the country’s most senior politician, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, issued a formal apology in March to those vilified under the Witchcraft Act. The act, which was in effect from 1563 to 1736, made practicing witchcraft punishable by death.

 
“It was injustice on a colossal scale, driven at least in part by misogyny,” Sturgeon said on International Women’s Day. “They were accused and killed because they were poor, different, vulnerable or in many cases just because they were women.”

June 24, 2022 in International, Legal History, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 13, 2022

California Corporate Gender Diversity Law Struck Down, But Other States and Countries Continue Trend of New Laws

Ms., Gender Diversity on on California's Corporate Boards was Too Good to Law

In 2018, California broke new ground for women when Governor Jerry Brown signed the first-in-the-nation requirement that publicly traded companies in the state have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019, and two or three (depending on company size) by the end of 2021. The bill’s co-sponsor state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson put it bluntly: “We are not going to ask any more.  We are tired of being nice. We’re tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it’s going to benefit the economy. It’s going to benefit each of these companies.”

 

Alas, it was too good to last. Last month, the law was deemed unconstitutional in a bench trial by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis because it wasn’t designed to remedy a “specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful” instance of discrimination. She added that the state’s claims that diverse boards would directly boost California’s economy could not be proven.

 

It’s no surprise that Judicial Watch, the conservative group that prevailed in the litigation, trotted out the dreaded “Q Word” in opposing the measure: quotas. Legal precedent holds that quotas violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against people based on race, gender, religion, age and other protected identities, because they could lead companies or schools to discriminate against people outside the targeted groups.

 

Never mind that in this case the poor, underrepresented targeted group happened to be wealthy white men, who have dominated corporate boards since Queen Elizabeth I the granted the first corporate charter to the East India company in 1600.

 

The ruling is without question a legal and moral setback, but fortunately for the future of women on boards in corporate America, that particular train may have already left the station. In the short time the law was in force, the percentage of board seats held by women virtually doubled—from 15.5 percent to 31.9 percent. In raw numbers, that translates to 766 female board members when the law was passed to 2046 by the end of 2021. ***

 

It’s clear from the pitiful progress since California led the way that stronger action is needed. Cases in point: Washington state’s law requires boards to have at least 25 percent of their makeup be members who self-identify as women. But violators face no penalties. Three other states—Maryland, New York and Illinois—merely require boards to disclose their demographic makeup. Ohio “encourages,” but does not require, disclosure.

 

We should take a page from the European Union playbook, where 40 percent female board seats for publicly traded companies were required as of March of this year. Under the new rules by the Council of the E.U., listed companies must meet the mandate by 2027

June 13, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, Gender, International, Legislation, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2022

A Feminist Approach to Interpretation of World Trade Organization Agreements to Reveal the Lack of Neutrality

Anna Ventouratou, A Feminist Approach to the Interpretation of the WTO Agreements: Systemic Integration as a Gender Issue 

The normative content of international trade law is often depoliticised. The emphasis of trade lawyers and theorists on economics and the ‘technical’ nature of trade mechanics attempts to present the multilateral trade regime as ostensibly neutral. However, it is undeniable that the processes of trade liberalisation have a strong impact on the living conditions of people around the globe. This impact is asymmetrical: whilst trade liberalisation has created jobs for millions of workers, including millions of women, and has brought, at cases, on an individual level, greater economic independence, equality in the household, and personal empowerment, it seems that women are often negatively affected by the implementation of international trade law and policies. Moreover, despite their crucial role in increasing competitiveness and productivity, women rarely enjoy the benefits of trade liberalisation.

Although the need to re-evaluate established practices through a gender perspective is increasingly recognised in the international community, recent efforts by governments in the context of the WTO and other international institutions to engage in relevant discourse have been characterized by women’s rights groups as ‘pink herrings’: they seemingly address women’s rights but are essentially designed to mask the failures of the WTO and its role in deepening inequality and exploitation.

This paper asserts, firstly, that this is a fair criticism to the response of the WTO. It discusses how trade liberalisation has disproportionately affected women, especially women from lower incomes, rural areas and marginalised communities. It demonstrates that mere political declarations that call for inclusive economic growth and encourage the participation of women to economic activities ignore the realities of intersectional discrimination and the living conditions of millions of women that are employed precariously, under dangerous or unhealthy conditions and are denied access to public goods and basic social services. In other words, it demonstrates that trade liberalisation has a clear gendered impact.

Secondly, the paper suggests that a corrective step towards addressing the adverse impact of current trade regulations on women would be the adoption of an interpretative approach that is more deferential to international human rights law. This deference would require a paradigm shift in the approach of the WTO adjudicative bodies to the interaction of human rights law and trade law. The paper argues that the interpretation of the WTO Agreements in light of applicable human rights rules is not only analytically appropriate but also desirable from a feminist perspective.

June 9, 2022 in Business, Equal Employment, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Study of Gender-Based Judging on Swedish Supreme Court Shows Little Effect of Gender

Johan Lindholm, Mattias Derlen & Daniel Naurin, 'Nevertheless, She Persisted': Gender and Dissent on the Swedish Supreme Court 

From the abstract:

In line with gender-based stereotypes and ideals of female agreeability and cooperativeness, research has shown that women tend to cooperate more and compete less than men (the competitiveness theory). The article empirically studies whether Swedish Supreme Court Justices practice of writing dissenting opinions follows the gender-based patterns that can be expected from the competitiveness theory. Issuing dissenting opinions is a well-established practice on the Supreme Court, but it is also a public form of collegial disagreement that is potentially especially socially costly for female Justices. We therefore hypothesize that female Justices avoid writing dissenting opinions, particularly alone, and help foster agreement on panels compared to male Justices. These hypotheses are not supported by the data and the behavior of Swedish Supreme Court Justices thus does not follow the competitiveness theory. We propose some explanations for this result, which runs counter to previous research, and point to possible future research.

The conclusion from the introduction:

Generally speaking, however, empirical evidence of an effect of gender on merit-based voting in previous research must be characterized as relatively weak. As observed by Leonard and Ross (2020, 278), “anyone hoping to find convincing evidence of consistent gender differences in decisions across a broad range of issues would be sorely disappointed by the extant literature”. The lack of more clear and strong empirical evidence of gender-based differences in judicial behavior is commonly explained by what is often characterized as the organizational theory. According to this theory, gender-based differences in judicial behavior are tempered by professional and organizational factors. While there is room for different legal reasoning, judges are restricted by the relatively narrow scope of what, in the mind of judges and other lawyers, constitutes acceptable legal reasoning and interpretations of the law, and individuals that fail to show an ability to act in accordance with and within these limits will have a difficult time becoming judges. In this way, the characteristics of the law in combination with the process involved in becoming a judge – a process that starts with an individual graduating from law school and ends with a judicial appointment – will both select individuals that behave in a particular way and shape those individuals’ behavior to conform with what the profession considers acceptable and appropriate behavior. Moreover, an argument can be made that the pressure to conform to existing (male-based) norms and to prove their competence is particularly strong on women who come in as ‘outsiders’ to judicial institutions that have traditionally been a male dominated environment (Davis, Haire, and Songer 1993, 133; see also Boyd, Epstein, and Martin 2010, 392; Boyd 2016, 790; Sisk, Heise, and Morriss 1998, 1453–1454). If
correct, the organizational theory could explain why previous research has not been able to show a strong and consistent effect of gender on merits voting.

June 2, 2022 in Courts, Gender, International, Judges | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Constitutional Courts to Advance Abortion Rights in Latin America

Alba Ruibal,  Using Constitutional Courts to Advance Abortion Rights in Latin America,
International Feminist Journal of Politics 2021

Over the past two decades, the abortion rights controversy has become the most prominent field of dispute between feminisms and religious conservatisms across Latin America. In this context, the political powers have generally been reluctant to change the region´s restrictive abortion legal frameworks, and since the mid-2000s, Latin American feminists turned to courts in search for long pursued reforms in this field. Through the analysis of the role of constitutional courts in the liberalization of abortion laws in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, this study points out the diverse ways in which courts have contributed to the advancement of abortion rights, becoming an alternative venue for feminist advocacy in Latin America. It highlights how the use of courts has been a way to liberalize abortion laws, ensure the implementation of lawful abortions, and deter backlash processes. Furthermore, it details how courts have offered a platform for public deliberation on the abortion issue. These findings show how the judiciary can be a favourable venue for feminist activism in Latin America when other institutional sites are blocked. They also pose nuances to the critique of the use of courts for social change, which stresses the pernicious consequences of the judicialization of social movement causes.

June 2, 2022 in Abortion, Constitutional, Courts, International, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Reimagining Gender Through British Equality Law Using Paths from Religion and Disability Law

Flora Renz & Davina Cooper, Reimagining Gender through Equality Law: What Legal Thoughtways do Religion and Disability Offer?, Feminist Legal Studies, 2022

British equality law protections for sex and gender reassignment have grown fraught as activists tussle over legal and social categories of gender, gender transitioning, and sex. This article considers the future of gender-related equality protections in relation to ‘decertification’ – an imagined reform that would detach sex and gender from legal personhood. One criticism of decertification is that de-formalising gender membership would undermine equality law protections. This article explores how gender-based equality law could operate in conditions of decertification, drawing on legal thoughtways developed for two other protected characteristics in equality law: religion and belief, and disability, to explore the legal responses and imaginaries that these two grounds make available. Religious equality law focuses on beliefs, communities, and practices, deemed to be stable, multivarious, and subject to deep personal commitment. Disability equality law focuses on embodied disadvantage, approached as social, relational, and fluctuating. While these two equality frameworks have considerable limitations, they offer legal thoughtways for gender oriented to both its hierarchies and its expression, including as disavowal.

June 1, 2022 in International, Religion, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)