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WMU talk will assess constitutions in addressing gender issues

by Mark Schwerin

Sept. 14, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Priscilla Lambert.
KALAMAZOO--Most people acknowledge the importance of the U.S. Constitution in preserving democracy and balancing power.

But how well do constitutions work when it comes to gender?

A presentation at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at Western Michigan University will examine that issue when Dr. Priscilla Lambert, WMU associate professor of political science, speaks in Room 3301 of Friedmann Hall. Her talk, titled "Do Constitutions Matter? Comparing Gender Provisions and Women's Equality," is presented by the WMU Institute of Government and Politics as part of Constitution Day.

New democracies, and some older ones, increasingly include gender provisions in their constitutions. How is gender recognized (or ignored) in constitutions around the world? Does constitutionalizing gender empower women? If so, what kinds of provisions matter and under what conditions? Lambert will answer these questions by presenting evidence from cross-national comparisons, emphasizing recent fieldwork in Chile and Argentina. She will discuss the implications for countries, such as the United States, that do not recognize gender in their constitutions.

Lambert earned her doctoral degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests include comparative political economy, Japanese politics, gender and politics and the politics of family and social policy. She has published articles in Politics and Gender, Comparative Politics, Journal of Japanese Studies, Social Politics, Harvard International Journal of Press and Politics and the U.S.-Japan Women's Journal. She is working on a cross-national study of gender provisions in national constitutions and their effect on women's political and economic equality.

For more information, contact Dr. Susan Hoffmann, director of the Institute of Government and Politics, at (269) 387-5692 or