Integrating Gender into Legal Education and Legal Doctrine in Latin America
In 1997, Global Partnerships on Gender and the Law launched the Transforming Women's Legal Status: Integrating Gender into Legal Education and Legal Doctrine in Latin America Project. The goal of the project is to address gender bias in legal systems and gender violence, and to strengthen women's legal status in Latin America by fostering and supporting the work of Latin American women’s rights advocates to integrate gender into legal education and legal doctrine.
The goals and objectives of the Project were rooted in the findings of 1996 Pan American Consultation of Legal and Health Experts, which was co-hosted by Global Partnerships on Gender and the Law, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Health and Development Policy Project. The consultation found that the traditional model of Latin American legal education was a great obstacle to achieving women's rights, and that there is an urgent need for legal doctrine that embodies an understanding of gender.
In response, the Global Partnerships on Gender and the Law undertook unprecedented measures to create new legal doctrine that embodies an understanding of gender and to begin the process of integrating women's human rights into legal education in Latin American countries. The long-term objectives of the project are to develop new curricula and teaching methods, including those based in clinical education, to build bridges between academic institutions and women’s legal groups, to encourage a systematic exchange of teaching experiences and methodologies among those teaching and writing from the perspective of gender, and to provide opportunities for promising women’s rights advocates with a commitment to research and teaching to obtain advanced legal education while benefiting from a systematic exchange of teaching experiences and methodologies.
Teaching Research and Advocacy Fellowships at the Washington College of Law
As part of the Transforming Women's Legal Status Project, the Washington College of Law awarded three Teaching, Research and Advocacy Fellowships to Latin American women's rights advocates and legal scholars who were dedicated to teaching and writing from a gender perspective. The Fellowships provided each Fellow with the opportunity to obtain an advanced legal degree at the Washington College of Law with a Specialization in Gender and the Law, to write legal scholarship from a gender perspective, to develop curriculum and expertise in law teaching, and to study multiple forms of advocacy.
The Fellows participated in the WCL masters program, which includes a set of courses incorporating international, comparative and domestic approaches to legal issues of importance to women’s lives. In addition to taking doctrinal courses, the Fellows conducted supervised fieldwork and participated in seminars examining how different teaching methodologies, including clinical legal education, could be effective in different legal and cultural contexts. The goal of these fellowships was to provide women’s rights advocates with a solid foundation in gender theory, women's human rights and educational theory, enabling them to return to the target countries as faculty members well positioned to integrate gender into legal theory and legal education.
While at the Washington College of Law, the Fellows worked closely with faculty members to develop curriculum, teaching materials and pedagogical methods for different courses that they then taught at law schools in Latin America. They also authored chapters of Genero y Derecho, the first Latin American legal textbook on gender and the law in Latin America.
Regional Teaching Research and Advocacy Fellowships
To encourage the full integration of gender into the mainstream of legal education and legal theory in Latin America, the Transforming Women's Legal Status Project awarded six one-year teaching fellowships to qualified Latin American legal scholars and women's rights advocates to teach at law schools in Latin America. The Regional Fellows either taught specialized courses on gender and the law, or taught more traditional law school courses from a gender perspective. The Fellowships were flexible so that each Fellow could tailor the Fellowship to fit her own expertise as well as institutional opportunities. The Fellows also worked with faculty members at each institution to discuss issues of gender and the law and opportunities for incorporating gender into legal education across the curriculum.