IHR Director Participates in International Seminar on Democracy, Gender Equality and the Constitution

On June 29-30, 2016, IHR Clinic Director Claudia Flores presented at an international symposium titled International Seminar on Democracy, Gender Equality and the Constitution: Towards a Responsible Constitution Drafting Process that Promotes Gender Equality in the Context of Sustainable Development. The symposium, which took place in Chile, was organized by the Chilean Ministry of Women and Gender Equity and UN Women. Judges, legislators, civil society leaders, and academics attended to promote gender equality and women’s rights in the design, consultation, drafting and implementation processes for a new Chilean constitution.   

In the last decade, constitutional reform processes in various countries have served as an opportunity to strengthen commitments to gender equality. Reforms for the Chilean constitution, which was adopted in 1980, aims to promote greater democracy and human rights. The international seminar in late June created a dialogue between international participants on gender equality should inform the constitutional drafting process as well as its final content.  

The symposium was inaugurated by Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet, who stressed that constitutional processes in Chile “transform laws and policies, and also the customs and culture, in a way that will allow us to mark a path for everyone, men and women, to fully develop, with security, freedom and fairness.” 

During the two day seminar, speakers, including IHR Clinic Director Claudia Flores, were invited to present on relevant issues to assist Chilean participants in preparing for the upcoming constitutional reform process.  Professor Flores presented on “Strengthening Women’s Human Rights Through Constitutional Reform”, providing initial research findings from a clinic study on how women’s human rights have been advanced in constitutions revised in the last decade.   

The international seminar represents the initiation of an effort by UN Women and the Chilean Ministry of Women and Gender Equality to ensure gender equality protections are included in Chile’s new constitution. Organizers expect this will promote development of gender equity in Chilean policy and accelerate the empowerment of women in Chilean society.