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Advanced Introduction to Law and Development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado

This book offers a concise and accessible introduction to the main themes and debates in the field of law and development. It unpacks the role of legal systems and institutions, and investigates what kinds of law and legal arrangements are perceived (correctly or not) to encourage and facilitate development.
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8 Gender and development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado


Included among the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) announced by the United Nations in 2000,1 gender equality and women’s empowerment are both constitutive of and instrumental to development. As we show in this chapter, there are multiple reasons to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and much progress has been achieved over the last two decades, particularly in girls’ education and female literacy rates.2 However, many challenges remain. Formal legislation,3 as well as informal rules and norms continue to present obstacles to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Acknowledging that institutional frameworks can be important instruments to achieve these goals, but can also hinder well-intentioned efforts to promote change, we conclude the chapter with an assessment of institutional reform strategies.

One of the arguments for promoting gender equality is that it is an end in itself. In Development as Freedom, Amartya Sen argues that the objective of development is to enhance individual capabilities in various arenas (family, social, political, economic).4 Women make up about half of the world’s population, a substantial majority of the world’s poor, and are also more likely to be malnourished and more deprived in health and education than men.5 Reducing these disparities is likely to promote individual capabilities and provide women with the possibility of living lives they have a reason to value (Sen’s hallmark for evaluating freedom).

Noting that “development is a process of expanding freedoms equally for all people”6 and asserting that women and men have “an...

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