As the UN’s lead development agency, with extensive field presence, UNDP facilitates the integration of gender equality in the work of its Country Offices (CO) and has initiated and implemented numerous innovative initiatives that support programme country work on gender equality and women’s empowerment. UNDP's work on gender is guided by the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the frameworks provided by the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
To implement gender equality as a core objective, UNDP has adopted a two-pronged approach (i) mainstreaming gender in all of its mandate areas; and, (ii) dedicated interventions that empower women and promote gender equality. In accordance with the Gender Equality Strategy, UNDP provides policy advice, technical assistance and supports building the capacity of national partners to strengthen legal frameworks and advance women’s rights in accordance with international norms and standards, including CEDAW and other international and regional human rights treaties and protocols.
Women across the Arab world played, and continue to play, a remarkable role in the transitions of their respective countries. Women who actively participated in the transitions did not only seek regime change but they also sought greater empowerment and gender equality in all spheres: political, economic and social. Different political processes, which include constitution making or constitutional reform, are now taking place in several countries in the Arab States region. Tunisia, Egypt and Somalia are currently engaged in constitution drafting processes and Libya, Yemen and Sudan will shortly be drafting new constitutions. In other countries in the region, including Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan, constitutions have recently been amended. New constitutions are often seen as the end result in a period of transition, but constitution making is a process, which begins before and extends well beyond the actual drafting; it includes a wide range of procedures, dialogues and decisions. Ensuring inclusivity of all parts of society in constitutional and related processes contributes to a more legitimate process, with greater chance of ensuring a sustainable settlement of conflicts and contributing to lasting peace and security. Women and men from all social spheres have an interest in the creation of this fundamental social contract. That participation, if meaningful, contributes to the provisions that explicitly protect the rights not only of women, but of all sectors of society.
Yet, there are often significant challenges to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in constitution-making. One of the biggest is often in ensuring that substantive protections and provisions are articulated in the constitution. Regardless of the ongoing fluidity of the situation, a rare opportunity now presents itself in the region for the advancement of women’s political participation and a greater role in decision making and nation building processes, for the promotion of gender equality principles and protection of rights in constitution making and for a dynamic exchange of lessons and experiences gained in countries with similar contexts.
Constitution making is a national endeavor that requires national ownership and leadership, and external assistance must be designed to respond to specific country contexts. Given the current wave of constitutional reforms in the region and based on the suggestions received from country offices in the region, UNDP and partners are planning to convene a conference, entitled “In transitions to democracy in the Arab region, how can gender equality be promoted, with a specific focus on constitution making processes?” This event, which is scheduled for October 2012, will bring together a range of stakeholders including civil society, members of Constituent Assemblies, and UNDP Country Offices from focus countries to explore commonalities, opportunities, and challenges, and to learn from the lessons gained through constitution making processes that have already taken place in the region and from other similar countries in the global south.
The conference will provide participants from the region and beyond, with the opportunity to hear about and exchange relevant experiences and lessons learned on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in constitution making processes. Themes addressed might include the issue of how to ensure that women and gender equality experts are at the constitution-making table, how can the processes ensure that substantive gender equality is included in the constitution that is drafted; how can media be used to promote gender equality; how the rights of both men and women can be framed in the bill of rights, and what state and non-state mechanisms need to be established in order to implement the gender equality provisions of the constitution.
Duties and Responsibilities
As part of the preparations for the conference, it will be important to have an overview of the current situation in the region on gender equality provisions in constitutions. To that end, UNDP is recruiting an expert in the field of women’s constitutional and legal rights and empowerment, including in the context of multiple legal systems, with a specific focus on Islamic law.
Under the overall guidance of the Gender and CPR Advisor in New York and in close collaboration with the Gender Policy Specialist in Cairo and UNDP Country Offices in the region the consultant will prepare a background paper which will inform the regional conference:
Details of the assignment are as follows:
This consultancy is home -based. The consultant may be required to undertake missions in the region to collect material, and / or attend the conference, in which case, s/he will receive a lump sum for accommodation, roundtrip ticket and terminal expenses.
Required Skills and Experience
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UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
Consultant for the Preparation of a Background paper on Constitution-Making and Gender Equality