With International Women’s Day happening this weekend on the 8th March we thought we’d take a look at some of the aspects involving gender and the law.
Legal decisions made by courts around the world change society's view on the interaction between male and female, and this means that the study of gender and the law is often interdisciplinary in approach with its study simultaneously being both practical and theoretical.
How are gender issues impacted by the law?
The law impacts on gender issues in a huge variety of ways. Not only do laws of gender equality aim to ensure that everyone has equal access to jobs, equal levels of pay and equal opportunity, but they also change how the rest of society views men and women. In some countries, the law impacts on pay levels or on the few who do not identify with many common gender labels and how they legally identify themselves. In other places, the law impacts on the safety of women or prohibits them from activities considered quite normal in other parts of the world. It doesn't matter where in the world you live the law impacts on how you legally interpret your gender and the gender of those around you, which influences everyone's day-to-day activity.
Why is it important to study this?
Everyone is impacted by laws that separate the genders or that treat people of different genders differently. For example this could affect the ability of some people to access medical treatment, or how the court might rule in times of divorce, the impact of the death of a partner, or how the rest of society perceives the LGBTQ+ community. How the law is interpreted by people can influence the ways that the genders are treated as victims of crime and as perpetrators of crime by society, and also by the institutions that deal with them. Gender also impacts on how those who have been convicted of a crime are sentenced and how they are treated in prisons. Gender influences all aspects of our lives and that is why it is important to study it.
What do you study in gender and the law courses?
Gender and the law course will encompass a wide range of topics including gender-based violence, legal issues surrounding the definition of gender, LGBTQ+ issues and feminist jurisprudence. The courses tend to have a wide scope as gender issues and the law have a major impact on most areas of life.
Where can I study gender and the law?
Many law schools now offer individual modules in Gender and the Law. For example, on the LLM in Human Rights Law, Jurisprudence and Legal Theory, or Public Law there is a Gender and Law module at the University College London. Georgetown University in the US does a great deal of research into Gender and the Law. Other law schools that have modules on aspects of gender and the law are the University of Leeds, Durham University, the University of Bologna and the University of Warwick. The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London offers an LLM program in the Law and Gender.
How are the genders represented in the law courts?
Let’s tale a look at the percentage of men and women sitting as judges on European Courts in 2019.
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