UCL Faculty of Laws


Online | The Gendering of Constitutionalism

27 January 2021, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm


A Current Legal Problems Lecture to be delivered by Professor Ruth Rubio Marin (University of Sevilla)

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Speaker: Professor Ruth Rubio Marin (University of Sevilla)
Chair: Professor Colm O'Cinneide (UCL Laws)


How would the history of constitutionalism be told and sequenced if we were to take women´s constitutional subjecthood as the point of reference? What are the forms constitutions have used to entrench or subvert gender orders? The lecture is structured around four phases that indicate the moment when different forms of contraction or expansion of women’s citizenship through constitutionalism first came about.

The phases are four, namely:

(1) exclusionary constitutionalism, where constitutional law entrenched sex inequality and women´s inferior legal status. This first form in then followed by three others all of which express a commitment to gender egalitarian constitutionalism and vary depending on what each of them takes a commitment to constitutional equality with respect to the gender order to require. The second phase and or form is

(2) inclusive constitutionalism which grants women rights equal to those it recognizes to men.

(3) Participatory constitutionalism comes next. It brings women on board as constitution makers and seeks to go beyond equality of right by introducing into the constitution mechanisms to ensure the equal participation of women, though the domain of constitutional equality struggles remains, primarily, the previously male-dominated public sphere.

Finally we have a fourth phase or form, that of (4) transformative constitutionalism, which, acknowledging the centrality of social reproduction for all, advances the vision of a fully egalitarian and democratic family structure, as the foundational cell in society, thereby challenging the separate spheres tradition and the ways it has allowed for the construction of gender roles and maybe, arguably, gender itself. The lecture ends by raising the question as to whether the current “anti-gender” backlash and its constitutional manifestations can be seen partly as a reaction to the tectonic shift it describes signalling the constitutional disestablishment of nothing less than modernity’s foundational gender order.

About the Speaker

Ruth Rubio Marín is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Sevilla, Part-time Professor at the School of Transnational Governance of the European University Institute, Florence and Director of the UNIA UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Interculturalism. She has taught in many other prestigious academic institutions including NYU (where since 2003 she is invited as Global Professor), Columbia Law School and Princeton University. Her research, focused on comparative constitutionalism, law and gender, immigration and citizenship, as well as transitional justice, represents an attempt to understand how public law creates categories of inclusion and exclusion around different axis including gender, citizenship, nationality and ethnicity. Professor Rubio is the author of over 50 articles and author, editor and co-editor of the following books: Immigration as a Democratic Challenge, Cambridge University Press, 2000; The Gender of Constitutional Jurisprudence, with Baines (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2004; What Happened to the Women? Gender and Reparations for Human Rights Violations, Rubio-Marín (ed.), Social Science Research Council, New York, 2006; The Gender of Reparations: Subverting Sexual Hierarchies while Redressing Human Rights Violations, Rubio-Marín (ed.) Cambridge University Press, 2009; The Battle for Female Suffrage in the EU: Voting to Become Citizens, with Rodriguez Ruiz (eds.) Brill, 2012; Human Rights and Immigration (ed.) Oxford University Press, 2014; Transforming gender citizenship: The irresistible rise of gender quotas in Europe, with Lépinard (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2018; Gender Parity and Multicultural Feminism: Towards a New Synthesis (with Will Kymlicka, eds) Oxford University Press, 2018; and Women as Constitution Makers: Case Studies from the New Democratic Era (with Helen Irving, eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2019. As a consultant and activist, Prof. Rubio has worked for several national and international institutions and agencies including with the UN and the EU, as well as with several NGOs including the International Center for Transitional Justice. She has extensive in country experience in dealing with reparations in post-conflict societies including in Morocco, Nepal and Colombia. Prof. Rubio has given talks and keynote speeches in 26 countries around the world. She speaks 5 languages fluently.


This event will be delivered via Zoom Webinar. Attendee cameras and microphones will be turned off but they will be able to put questions to the panel via the Q&A box. You will receive your zoom joining link 48-hours before the start of the event. Contact the Laws Events team (laws-events@ucl.ac.uk) if you have not receive the link.

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About Current Legal Problems

The Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume was established over fifty five years ago at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and is recognised as a major reference point for legal scholarship.