The law is not a neutral body of rules and legal categories often exclude groups or reinforce their disadvantage. Gender discrimination, along with other forms of discrimination, is embedded throughout the legal system, often in ways that are not immediately obvious. This course will look at the body of feminist legal theory and identify its major insights into the ways in which law is gendered and how this contributes to the construction of inequality. Feminist analyses of law provide some of the most significant and challenging explanatory frameworks for understanding the practice and organisation of laws and legal institutions. These insights and frameworks focus on concepts such as the public/private divide, equality and intersectional discrimination, representation and power. The course will examine various areas of human experience such as work and the economy, the family and relationships, reproduction and bodies, representation and expression, and the way in which law shapes these. Feminist engagements within each area will be explored. The course will consider a range of approaches taken by feminist lawyers to critique, reform and transform law. Various strategies at the local and international level will be studied including the use of human rights to challenge gender inequality and disadvantage.
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