From footnotes to the center of the academic debate: taking gender constitutionalism seriously

Blogpost by Ana Côrtes

This blogpost comments on the newly published book by Ruth Rubio Marin! Congratulations to Ruth on this important book!

Dedicated to women constitution makers around the world and to the young generations of scholars, Ruth Rubio-Marín’s book “Global Gender Constitutionalism: A Struggle for Transformative Inclusion” makes a statement about how focusing on gender and being feminist does not make one less of a researcher.

In an important methodological effort and adopting a feminist approach, the author starts the book by explicitly addressing her disciplinary, geographical, and personal background. It is a fundamental effort as the same object can be seen and described in diverse ways depending on those factors. This caveat enriches the debate since we cannot assume neutrality or universality in the work of White men from the Global North either, but they have written the history of constitutionalism for years and without any caveats.

Rubio-Marín’s work addresses the dual role of Law. As an empowering tool on the one hand, and as an instrument of exclusion and perpetuation of the status quo on the other. Instead of focusing on, for example, parity democracy, sexual and reproductive rights, or equality politics, the author adopts a broader approach seeking to make gender constitutionalism and gender comparative constitutionalism into a central field of the discipline.

From the first steps of constitutionalism to current cases of backlash, gender is not a footnote in this book. Rubio-Marín reunites her knowledge about several jurisdictions she has studied – that go beyond literature written in English and focused on Global North countries – to put together the history of constitutionalism told differently: seen through a gender lens.

Gender constitutionalism is not too narrow, it is not pure ideology, and it is academic enough. Therefore, efforts to take gender into the debate and attempts to contribute to the field should exist, multiply, and be taken into account in the literature. This book is Ruth Rubio-Marín’s contribution.

Rubio-Marin, R. (2022). Global Gender Constitutionalism and Women’s Citizenship: A Struggle for Transformative Inclusion. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ