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Ann Stewart

Photo of Ann Stewart


Gender and the Law; Gender Justice & Postcolonialism; Women

School of Law
S1.42, Social Sciences Building
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

024 765 23207

I research and write in the area of gender and the law, focussing on issues of gender justice and postcolonialism. I have a particular interest in Eastern and Southern Africa and India. Currently I am involved in two major research projects:

  • Gender and ageing in the plural legal systems of Eastern and Southern Africa. I obtained a Leverhulme Fellowship (2016-2017) to undertake research in Kenya on this topic; leading to further collaboration between colleagues at the University of Nairobi and Mount Kenya law schools and also HelpAge International which resulted in two further funded projects. Both have explored aspects of gender, ageism and the rights of older people.
  • A five year study of gendered access to higher education in Haryana India. A collaborative project with the Centre for Education Studies at Warwick and also partners in India. We have two doctoral students attached to the project and it is funded by the Fair Chance Foundation.

I am interested in issues relating to gender, care and body work. I like to work collaboratively with colleagues on developing perspectives on gender and law and women's rights, which take account of global economic and social contexts and build on my longstanding activities in India and Eastern/ Southern Africa.

My interests in gender and the law are reflected in my supervision of doctoral students who wish to research in the area, my modules on the International Development Law and Human Rights LLM as well as on the undergraduate programme.

I am a member of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender and Connecting Research on Employment and Work network at Warwick as well as being co academic lead of the University’s Global Research Priority on International Development.

I am very interested in the way in which law and gender issues interact not just within the UK but more widely. There are many misconceptions about gender issues within what is often described as the developing world. I study the ways in which legal systems impact on gender relations and consider the extent to which 'law' is able to contribute to social and economic justice. I am interested in the contribution of rights to women's development. My research therefore is in the area of what could be described as 'applied human rights'.

As part of my research and teaching I have had the opportunity of working with colleagues from a wide range of countries. Warwick Law School has had formal links with a wide range of universities internationally and many of these have had a strong gender focus, particularly those funded through the British Council Higher Educational Links programme. We have had links with the Universities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Makerere, Uganda, Catolica, Peru, Ateneo, Philippines, National Law School of India University Bangalore. Presently we have links with a strong gender focus with Mekelle Ethiopia and University of Malawi. I have a research link with the University of Delhi (Centre for Women and Development Studies which is funded by the British Council) and we are about to commence gender specific links with Peshawar University in Pakistan and in conjunction with York and Bristol universities with Mumbai University in India. These last two are funded through DeLPHE.

One focus for my research is on the way in which plural systems affect women's position within the law. There is an assumption that all laws are made by states (whether nationally or internationally) but religious laws, customary laws and increasing 'laws' made by transnational bodies including companies all deeply affect gender relations. For instance In the UK various communities follow both state based laws and their own family or community 'laws' but the state does not recognise the latter. In most post colonial states here are state recognised personal, customary or religious law. I am interested in the ways in which women's rights are seen in the different systems and the ways in which global rights discourses impact upon them.

My second focus in on issues of violence against women in particular the role of activism in developing and then implementing law based strategies. My current research which I am conducting with Dr Manjeet Bhatia from Delhi University is considering the contribution of women's non governmental organisations to the implementation of the new Domestic Violence Act in India.

My third related interest is more broadly theoretical. I consider the relationship between dominant theories of gender and law and the present context of globalisation. I am interested in ethical issues such as the pursuit of gender justice. I consider the ways in which global trade affects gender relations. Work relations are changing throughout the world - more women are now employed in formal economies making goods for export or migrating to provide services whether as nurses, domestic workers, social carers or sex workers. There are large 'care gaps'. Who provides care for vulnerable family members (young, old, sick or disabled) if women are working as employees either in their own or overseas economies. How does labour, welfare and family law contribute to these developments. Can rights offer protection to women migrant workers, can rights contribute to greater work/family balances?

A recent paper of mine on this area is 'Who do we care about?' is available in law school recent events - Human Rights and Global Justice conference.