Whether decentralization, and particularly devolution and federalism, is advantageous or disadvantageous for women is a long-debated issue. The effectiveness of decentralization in promoting gender equality depends on how the system is designed, the quality of implementation planning and the adequacy of resources.

Decentralization processes, nevertheless, are particularly fertile ground for enhanced and systematic women’s engagement, with numerous avenues for mobilization and advocacy throughout the long period of interpretation, implementation and enforcement, which can be harnessed by women to shape what decentralization will look like in practical terms.

The Fourth Women Constitution-Makers’ Dialogue focused on decentralization from a technical and empirical perspective to support women constitution-makers engaged in constitution-building processes and constitutional implementation through knowledge transfer and comparative experience sharing.


Publication date
08 June 2023
Erin C. Houlihan and Sharon P. Hickey
Number of pages
Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform, the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law
978-91-7671-642-7 (PDF)


Executive summary 

Key findings 

1. Introduction 

2. Conceptualizing decentralization 

3. Negotiating and designing decentralization 

4. Implementing decentralization and measuring performance 

5. Considerations relating to women, ethnic minorities and Indigenous peoples 

6. Concluding observations 


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Constitutional Approaches to Decentralization: Elements, Challenges and Implications

Fourth Women Constitution-Makers’ Dialogue, 2022
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