OxHRH Director Sandra Fredman Gives Keynote Address at Nordic Law and Gender Conference

by | May 16, 2017

Nordic Law and Gender Conference 2017 – Turku May 11–12th Transformation of gender: reflections in legal research and practice

Key note speakers:
Professor Sandra Fredman, University of Oxford
Professor Nira Yuval Davis, University of East London

The transformation of the Nordic unified national states into multiethnic and plural societies coincides with transformation of feminist legal research from women’s law to law and gender. Sex and gender are increasingly contested concepts, challenged by queer and evolving gender roles. It is obvious that gender plays a role in all legal fields but gender is so far not mainstreamed into legal education, nor into research. Gender roles are changing as Nordic women combine a career and family and Nordic men are taking more responsibility for their children. Theoretically, queer, sexual orientations, transgender, intersex; all challenge sex as an analytical category and a fixed identity. Post-modernity is also characterized with ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identifications that make the unity of nationality and sex an illusion.

The Nordic welfare states have been national projects and legal orders have been central in their construction. However, even law has transformed from national law into layered and overlapping legal orders, such as EU, national, regional and local jurisdictions, differentiated legal disciplines, established professional codes and practices, religious customs etc. To what extent is it possible to build an analysis of gender in the Nordic state on the premise of an effective welfare state? In discrimination law, we increasingly speak about intersectionality as a key to better access to justice. The impact of introducing intersectionality into legal theory and practice is still at best a work in progress. Is the concept of intersectionality able to live up to expectations?


The conference promotes interaction between academia and practice. It was a lively debate on these challenging issues.

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