How Women Influence Constitution Making After Conflict and Unrest

Nanako Tamaru and Marie O’Reilly   •   February 2018


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This is the first major effort to understand the numbers, roles and impact of women in constitution making after conflict and unrest. We examine eight countries and draw out lessons for policymakers and those looking to influence this crucial entry point for building peace.

A constitution lays the foundation for how power will be exercised in a country’s future. And the process of drafting a constitution presents an entry point for building peace. Constitution drafters can chart a path for civil dialogue and acknowledge the inequalities and marginalization that contributed to conflict in the first place. But the potential for constitution making to transform conflict depends, in part, on who gets to participate.

Women are the single largest group excluded from constitution-making processes. In countries affected by conflict or unrest, just 19 percent of members of constitution-reform bodies between 1990 and 2015 were women. Despite increasing attention to women’s roles in peace processes in recent years—and mounting evidence of positive outcomes when women exert influence—women’s roles in constitutional reform remain poorly understood.

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