This Discussion Paper is directed at the non-specialist member of the public who has the opportunity to comment on a draft constitution proposed for adoption in their country.

It assumes that it is probably worthwhile to take the trouble to respond and it suggests why and how you as a citizen might respond. It will be especially useful to previously marginalized sections of society and their members, with special emphasis on women.

The Women and Constitution-Building Initiative in Nepal was initiated in June 2008 in the spirit of a newly formed Constitution Assembly which saw the election of a high percentage of women. International IDEA, together with its partners, identified a need for a greater understanding of how a constitution affects women’s lives and how women can contribute to the process of making a new constitution. Strategies were needed to support the creation of an inclusive political environment in a crucial period of Nepal’s history.

The paper discusses various aspects of the constitution-building process, including why constitution makers engage in public consultation, understanding what is expected of the public when they respond to consultations, how to tackle the task of understanding a constitution and its structure, and understanding the difference between rights and other things. 


Publication date
25 May 2010
Cecilia Bylesjö, Jill Cottrell
Number of pages
No (Print)



What is a constitution?

Why do constitution-makers engage in public consultation: what do they hope to get out of it?

What should you respond?

Understanding what is expected of you - the timetable, how to make submissions, the scope for changing the document

Improving the process

How to tackle the task of understanding the constitution

On not being afraid of a constitution

The structure of a constitution

Things that constitutions do: different types of provision

The language

Focus on what concerns you

How to find what concerns you

On not focusing only on human rights

On understanding the difference between rights and other things

Being strategic

On being realistic

Suppose you are going to have a very short time to comment

What next?

Annex 1. A checklist of issues that a constitution is likely to deal with

Annex 2. Questions for a gender audit of the draft constitution

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Public Consultation on a Draft Constitution: With Particular Reference to Women in Nepal

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