International Women’s Rights Law and Gender Equality : Making the Law Work for Women book cover
1st Edition

International Women’s Rights Law and Gender Equality
Making the Law Work for Women

Edited By

Ramona Vijeyarasa

ISBN 9780367549411
Published July 23, 2021 by Routledge
260 Pages 7 Color & 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The law is a well-known tool in fighting gender inequality, but which laws actually advance women’s rights? This book unpacks the complex nuances behind gender-responsive domestic legislation, from several of the world’s leading experts on gender equality.

Drawing on domestic examples and international law, it provides a primer of theory alongside tangible and practical solutions to fulfil the promise of the law to deliver equality between men and women. Part I outlines what progress has been made to date on eradicating gender inequality, and insights into the law’s potential as one lever in the global struggle for equality. Parts II and III go on to explore concrete areas of law, with case studies from multiple jurisdictions that examine how well domestic legislation is working for women. The authors bring their critical lens to areas of law often considered from a gender perspective – gender-based violence, women’s reproductive health, labour and gender equality quotas – while bringing much-needed analysis to issues often ignored in gender debates, such as taxation, environmental justice and good governance. Part IV seeks to move from a theoretical goal of greater accountability to a practical one. It explores both accountability for international women’s rights norms at the domestic level and the potential of feminist approaches to legislation to deliver laws that work for women.

Written for students, academics, legislators and policymakers engaged in international women’s rights law, gender equality, government accountability and feminist legal theory, this book has tremendous transformative potential to drive forward legal change towards the eradication of gender inequality.

Table of Contents


Elizabeth Evatt AC

Part I. Women and the Law: Addressing Inequality

Chapter 1. In Pursuit of Gender-Responsive Legislation: Transforming Women’s Lives Through the Law

Ramona Vijeyarasa

Chapter 2. Women’s Rights – The State of Play: How Far Have We Come Since the Beijing Declaration?

Jeni Klugman

Part II. Legislating for Women: Successes and Setbacks in Delivering Gender-Responsive Outcomes for Women

Chapter 3. Domestic Violence Law: When Good Intentions Go Awry in Practice

Heather Nancarrow

Comment: Promoting Safety and Accountability: Clarity, Consistency and Interconnected Laws

Heather Douglas

Chapter 4. Towards a Gender-Transformative Approach to Abortion: Legislative Perspectives from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa

Payal K. Shah and Onyema Afulukwe

Comment: Gender-Transformative Law Reform as Healthcare

Jenni Millbank

Chapter 5. Employing the Law for Women: Gender, Work and Legal Regulation in Australia

Anna Chapman

Comment: Women and Work – How Useful is the Law?

Marian Baird

Chapter 6. Enhancing Equality in Political Life: Successes and Limitations with Electoral Gender Quotas

Leena Rikkila Tamang

Comment: Enhancing Equality in Public Life

Marian Sawer

Part III. Legislating with Women in Mind: A Demand for Gender-Responsiveness at the Drafting Table

Chapter 7. Gender, Race and Environmental Law: A Feminist Critique

Rowena Maguire

Comment: Gender and Queer Perspectives on the Sustainable Development Paradigm for Environmental Law

Brad Jessup

Chapter 8. ‘No One Left Behind’? Gender Equality Taxation and the UN 2030 Global Agenda

Kathleen A. Lahey

Comment: Tax, Gender Equality and Sharing the Costs of Care

Miranda Stewart

Chapter 9. Women in Anticorruption Laws: The Case for More Gender-Responsive International Treaties

José-Miguel Bello y Villarino

Comment: Perverse Reactions and the Missing Link in Gender-Smart Anticorruption Policy

Susan Harris Rimmer

Part IV. Accountability for Embedding Women’s Rights in Domestic Law

Chapter 10. CEDAW and Global Standards for Women’s Rights: The Convention’s Actual and Potential Influence as an Accountability Mechanism for Gender-Sensitive Legislation

Anne Hellum

Chapter 11. Lighting the Spark: Reimagining the Statutory Landscape Through the Feminist Legislation Project

Becky Batagol and Ramona Vijeyarasa

Chapter 12. Gender Audits and Legislative Scrutiny: Do Parliamentary Human Rights Bodies have a Role to Play?

Jacqueline Mowbray

Chapter 13. Conclusion – Women and the Law: The Challenges Ahead for Gender-Responsive Legislation

Ramona Vijeyarasa

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Ramona Vijeyarasa is a global scholar of gender equality. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her research has helped shape theory and practice in areas of migration and trafficking, human rights and international women’s rights. Ramona is the Chief Investigator behind the Gender Legislative Index, a tool used to rank and score legislation for its gender-responsiveness. She is the author of the academic best-seller Sex, Slavery and the Trafficked Woman: Myths and Misconceptions about Trafficking and its Victims (2015) and a plethora of academic, policy and general media publications on law and gender issues. Ramona has been the recipient of a number of awards and grants, including from the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia (2020–2021) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2020–2022). She was the 2020 Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia Research Fellow. Before joining academia, Ramona held several positions related to women’s rights in international organisations, and local and international NGOs.


"Feminist critiques of law have challenged claims of the law's neutrality over the past few decades. While these critiques have been powerful, the task of designing laws to take gender into account has received much less attention. This book offers rich insights into the complexities of taking women’s lives seriously in legislative design across a range of legal fields. Its optimism that the law can be an important site for social change, along with its practical guidance, are inspiring." — Hilary Charlesworth, Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University, Australia

"No country in the world has entirely eliminated discrimination against women in law and practice. Not only have we witnessed profound regression on women’s rights in some quarters of the world, but the risk of a roll-back of the progress made globally towards gender-equality has become increasingly clear. This insightful compilation of chapters on diverse aspects of women’s lives and the law will undoubtedly be an important resource and tool for legal practitioners, policy-makers, and activists who, in the aftermath of a once-in-a-century global health and economic crisis, are now faced with the daunting but critical task of building an equitable and just future for all based on a transformative vision of women’s human rights." — Melissa Upreti, Vice Chair of the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls