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Law & Ethics of Human Rights

Editor-in-Chief: Stopler, Gila

Editorial Board: Benvenisti, Eyal / Cohen-Eliya, Moshe / Macedo, Stephen / Rosenblum, Nancy

CiteScore 2017: 0.16

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.195
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.140

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Volume 12, Issue 1


Gender Equality and the Protection of Motherhood in Global Constitutionalism

Julie Suk
Published Online: 2018-06-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lehr-2018-0002


Most of the world’s constitutions contain clauses guaranteeing sex equality, and many also extend the special protection of the state to mothers. The constitutional protection of motherhood is undertheorized and neglected in global constitutional discourse, perhaps because jurisdictions like the United States view the special protection of women as contrary to gender equality. This Essay explores the feminist meanings and possibilities of constitutional motherhood clauses, by focusing on Germany, where they originated in 1919. While motherhood clauses have had complex relationships with a range of feminist agendas, they solidified the notion that social reproduction was a subject for constitutional lawmaking. Addressing twenty-first century gender inequalities requires a more robust engagement of women’s disproportionate burdens in social reproduction. Having opened up a constitutional discourse around the challenges of social reproduction, motherhood clauses and gender equality guarantees can drive the search for new solutions.

Keywords: feminism; comparative constitutional law; gender equality; motherhood; women; legal history

About the article

Published Online: 2018-06-21

Published in Print: 2018-06-26

Citation Information: The Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Volume 12, Issue 1, Pages 151–180, ISSN (Online) 1938-2545, ISSN (Print) 2194-6531, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lehr-2018-0002.

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