Constitutions: Women are the untapped resource

February 13, 2018 | Swanee Hunt

Inclusive Security’s Director of Research Marie O’Reilly shares with me our new constitution-making research.

When you think of Syria or any other country suffering through terrible conflict, it’s worth reflecting on what needs to happen when the shooting stops. Often, it’s a new constitution, a founding document that reflects the values and rules of a society.

Groundbreaking research released today by our DC institute, Inclusive Security, makes clear that a constitution is far more likely to succeed if women play a major role in writing it.

Director of Research Marie O’Reilly and her coauthor, Nanako Tamaru, have done more than produce academic research documenting the critical role of women. They’ve also created an entire toolkit to help ensure that women are more than included – they are holding the pen.

Here’s a note from the executive summary: “Women repeatedly bridged divides in the negotiating process, contributing to peacebuilding and reconciliation in deeply divided societies.”

Their research finds that 75 countries undertook major constitution reform in the wake of conflict between 1990 and 2015, but women accounted for just one out of five members of the drafting teams. And no surprises here: When women did play an active role, the result was more likely to support equitable, inclusive societies with a much better chance for lasting peace.

You can hear Marie describe the essence of the findings in this short video. Our new webpage conveys the research and recommendations quickly. For policy wonks, the entire research report is available for free downloading. And for practitioners, here’s our Women’s Guide to Constitution Making.

This work is one more brick in the edifice of a changing security paradigm: Women are the untapped resource.