3. Sequencing policy towards progressive legal reform There are a number of international standards for gender equality and women`s rights, supported by review mechanisms. Among the most important for this publication are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the International Labour Organization`s International Labour Standards, both of which are legally binding (Box 6.1). A number of non-legally binding international instruments and dialogue processes also promote women`s economic empowerment, such as the OECD Recommendations on Gender Equality, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which were reviewed by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The implementation of reforms requires political commitment at the highest level. Heads of Government or State can either give political impetus to reform or use the existing momentum to express support for a particular reform of women`s economic empowerment. The countries covered by the publication have different political systems. Morocco and Jordan are constitutional monarchies in which the King enjoys great political prerogatives as Head of State; The kings of both countries strongly advocated women`s empowerment. Tunisia`s historically strong commitment to women`s rights – exemplified at the time of independence by the pioneering initiatives of the late President Bourguiba – is an enduring national feature that is fully recognized and promoted by today`s vibrant Tunisian democracy. The strong presidential system defined in Egypt`s constitution has also enabled top-down initiatives crucial to gender equality and women`s empowerment. The case studies show how the heads of state of the four countries have played a crucial role in driving legislative reforms to empower women.
Often, this type of “state feminism” has been a very important factor in achieving reforms, especially in contexts where religious authorities and religiously inspired political movements were not necessarily aligned in this direction. The whole issue of relations with the legal profession is relevant in Canada, as provincial legal foundations play an important role in funding legal reform activities. It has sometimes been argued that legislative reform bodies should keep their distance from these bodies if their recommendations are to receive public support and parliamentary approval. Full-time staff may also be required to consult and liaise with other organizations. The extent to which a Commission uses full-time staff or external contractors should also vary according to the availability of such staff and the nature of the projects carried out by the Commission. There is no need for full-time experts for the staff of a legislative reform body. Experts could only be commissioned to conduct research or write articles when necessary. In the Canadian context, one observer believes that a large team of permanent employees is counterproductive and advocates relying more on experts on certain issues. Health care reform reflects a different way in which poverty itself – and thus the poverty law movement – has changed over time.
By expanding Medicaid to more people and subsidizing the purchase of private insurance by those who can`t afford it, PPACA has highlighted the unmet health needs of the “working poor.” Since the mid-twentieth century, the growth of those living below the poverty line despite working has been part of a larger history of economic restructuring linked to the decline of unionization, deindustrialization, outsourcing, free trade, and immigration. For reasons of well-being and credibility, a law reform commission cannot afford to be closely linked to the legal profession. Not only does the profession have a personal interest, but it is also often blind to the need for real and appropriate change in society and the law. According to Professor Robert Samek, the adequacy of a law cannot be assessed on the basis of purely legal criteria, since its legal value does not guarantee its social benefit. A law can only be a cloud that obscures the real problems of society. For the lawyer, there is a constant danger of looking at the social scene only from a narrow legal point of view. Because a lawyer`s legal training is so strong, it often automatically leads to the imposition of a legal framework on the world with its specific concepts, classifications, procedures and institutions. Legal reformers must be particularly careful to avoid this trap, otherwise they will fall back into the very system they are supposed to change. Simply changing the letter of the law does not cure social ills. A more comprehensive reform of society is often necessary.
Women in the private sector. Particularly under the leadership of women, private sector initiatives have been launched in the region to support women`s economic empowerment. For example, the Global Union of Arab Banks` Gender Diversity Charter (Box 2.3) and the Jordanian El Etihad Bank`s gender-sensitive approaches were both created by women leaders of these institutions (case study 2.8). Another approach to anti-racist legal reform is that of non-subordination. The anti-subordination approach views racism as a set of practices that have the effect of systematically reproducing racial hierarchies, even when no identifiable decision-maker can be characterized as racial bias. Anti-subordination approaches therefore emphasize that practices that harm racial minorities should be subject to legal scrutiny, even in the absence of evidence of intent or bias. More importantly, anti-subordination approaches seek models and systems in which several distinct practices are combined to produce regular, predictable, and systematic racial subordination, even though each individual practice, considered in isolation, may not appear to be problematic (Crenshaw, 1995). A legal commission must have the ability to suggest ways to improve the law that may not have been considered by the government, and to examine views on the law that the government may not have considered. The components of a commission are not only the legal community, but also all citizens affected by the law. This principle also implies that a Committee on Legal Affairs should have the right to express its views publicly. Nevertheless, care must be taken to ensure that independence does not lead to isolation, irrelevance or complete autonomy.
After all, a legal commission is a public institution funded by public funds. It is therefore legitimate to expect a balance between independence and accountability. The case studies and interviews conducted for this publication document the many legal, policy and institutional reforms implemented in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia to support women`s economic empowerment. But they also highlight the complex matrix of factors that ensure the implementation of reforms and lead to social change. This chapter analyzes previous chapters of the report and identifies 10 factors that contributed to the success of the initiatives described. In general, anti-racist legal reform is characterized by a split between two normative strategies and/or obligations, one of which promotes racial integration and the other promotes the development of different, autonomous and separate communities (Peller, 1995). Due to tight parliamentary schedules, departments, which are always considering a variety of legislative initiatives, are often reluctant to spend little time on detailed discussions on reforms for which there are few obvious political or ministerial benefits. The codification of law may be something that everyone praises in an abstract way, but there is little enthusiasm for results. No cabinet minister expects to receive the support of voters on issues that are dry and not immediately relevant.