Women’s rights in democratic transitions

The Study titled «Enhancing EU action to support universal standards for women's rights during democratic transitions» is another ambitious research project that EIUC has been selected to write by the European Parliament. In response to the challenging policy developments emerging from the Arab Spring, the thematic area at the core of the study conducted by EIUC is “Women’s rights in democratic transitions”.

tl_files/EIUC MEDIA/Publications/cover_EPdtudy2012_web.jpgThe study «Enhancing EU action to support universal standards for women's rights during democratic transitions» was requested by the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights.


  • Prof. Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides, EIUC Deputy-President, Jean Monnet Chair Holder  (2001) and Assistant Professor at the University of Cyprus.
  • Prof. Florence Benoit-Rohmer, EIUC Secretary General, Professor at the University of Strasbourg

Committee of experts

  • Prof. Annette Jünemann, Helmut Schmidt Universitaet - Universitaet der Bundeswehr Hamburg
  • Prof. Leila Jordens-Cotran, Arab Dutch Law
  • Prof. Roberta Aluffi, University of Turin,
  • Ms. Christina Kaili, EIUC – PhD Student, University of Cyprus.

Preparatory meetings:

During the first meeting held at the EIUC’s premises on 27 January 2012, tasks distributions among experts have been discussed, followed by the drafting of a plan of actions to implement the project. The study’s responsible and coordinator is Prof. Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides (EIUC Deputy-President and Professor at the University of Cyprus). The Committee of experts, all chosen on the basis of their recognised knowledge on Islamic Law and Politics, is composed by Christina Kaili (EIUC - University of Cyprus), Roberta Aluffi (University of Turin), Leila Jordens-Cotran (Arab Dutch Law), Annette Juenemann (Helmut Schmidt Universitaet - Universitaet der Bundeswehr Hamburg), Farida Bennani (University Cadi Ayad, Marrakech) and Prof. Florence Benoît-Rohmer (EIUC Secretary General). The tasks assignment for each of the experts was decided during the meeting, a table of contents was drafted in order to distribute their work and corresponding chapters/sections of the study.

Decisions were also made in regards to the methodology; the study will be conducted by following a comparative approach and focusing mainly on the Maghreb region.

A second meeting took place on 22 April.


Presentation at the European Parliament:

The study was presented on 09 October 2012 during the joint meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights with the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality at the European Parliament in Brussels.


This study is devoted in proving an analysis of the policy initiatives, recent research and assesses the possibilities for entry points relevant to the enhancement of EU action to support universal standards for promoting women’s rights in the context of democratic transitions. The authors share the view that women’s rights will be the litmus test of a successful democratic transition. They explore and analyse the gender dimension in the context of democratic transition processes, with a special focus on current socio-political changes taking place in the MENA region. This is being done with special attention on women’s political participation to show the importance of gender-responsive legislation, constitutions and accountability systems. In this regard transitional violence against women is treated as a cross cutting issue affecting women in the region and preventing them from enjoying their rights in all areas of public life and from influencing the political agendas. This study explores the initiatives taken so far on women’s rights by international organisations and the authors attempt to map EU instruments and entry points for further action. Finally, the study provides a list of pragmatic recommendations to the EU as an external promoter of democracy and gender equality.

Excerpts from the summary of recommendations:

For the European Union to be a credible actor in external relations, it must act consistently in accordance with the Treaty obligations, and avoid double standards both between internal and external policies and between its human rights policy and other external policies. It must also make full and coordinated use of its relevant instruments in the conduct of its relations with third countries. This study formulates a number of recommendations in key areas and suggests methods for EU policies and instruments to function effectively and efficiently towards democratic transition and consolidation.

This study recommends also a variety of methods for effective and efficient policy outcomes. It takes the view that, while the content of policies and instruments in key areas is of paramount importance, process and context are equally important elements for each and every successful policy process and outcome.