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The Sustainable Development Goals seek to change the history of the 21st century, addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence against women and girls. The inalienable rights of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls addressed in Goal 5 are a pre-condition for this. Despite decades of struggle by women’s movements and reformist agendas, much still needs to be done to address de facto and de jure discrimination against women. At a time of enormous change for women, these essays from around the world are a critical analysis of the role of law in regulating and shaping women’s lives and calls for a reexamination of these laws in light of international women’s human rights guarantees. "Making Laws, Breaking Silence: Case Studies from the Field" grows out of a high level roundtable convened by Penn Law, UN Women, UNESCO, UN SDG Fund, and IDLO in March 2017. The convening brought together over 30 legislators, judges, and policy experts from more than 15 countries to examine new developments and challenges in gender equality lawmaking under Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The following case studies and essays expand on those deliberations and interactions and highlight some tensions in evolving law reform efforts around the world. Closing the enforcement gap in gender equality laws is often called the “unfinished business of the 21st century.” These reflections offer fresh insights and policy guidelines for UN agencies, multilaterals, government entities and civil society organizations charged with gender-based law reform.


Gender equality, gender discrimination, gender law, gender-based law reform, human rights, international law

Publication Title

Making Laws, Breaking Silence: Case Studies from the Field

Publication Citation

Making Laws, Breaking Silence: Case Studies from the Field (Rangita de Silva de Alwis ed., 2018).