SJFE : Women and Law in Europe


Since 1975, Women's Law has been an academic discipline. The first courses were taught in the University of Oslo that also was the first one to establish a regular professorship, and later such study units have been established in many Scandinavian, European and American universities - the enclosed list showing some examples of the courses held right now. The most recent chair of Women's Law has been established in the University of Helsinki in 1996 having been preceded by several years
of optional courses in women's law. Besides Oslo and Helsinki, there is also a chair of Women's Studies in Law in the University of Utrecht.

In Scandinavia, Women's Law was originally created as a separate discipline or area of law. Nowadays, there has been a strong move towards feminist legal theory. Instead of teaching positive law (or parts of it) as such, feminist perspective has challenged the whole conception of the gender neutral law. The aim is rather in the critical analysis of legal concepts in general than in creating separate "Women's Law". Because of historical reasons, these studies are nevertheless called Women's Law.

Women and Law Courses
in European Universities 1996-1997


University of Helsinki: Five optional courses, 3 study weeks=credits (4,5 ECTS-credits) each.

    1) Feminist Jurisprudence: Introductory Course (written exam + including optional 24 h introductory lecture course and/or a lecture course on Feminist Theory) Reading list: Riitta Turunen (toim.): Naisnäkökulmia oikeuteen (1992) or Gudrun Nordborg (toim.): 13 kvinnoperspektiv på rätten (1995) Kevät Nousiainen: Luentoja naisoikeuden teoriasta (to be published 1997?) One work from the following: Harriet Silius: Den kringgärdade kvinnligheten (1992) Ngaire Naffine: Law and the Sexes (1990) Carol Smart: Feminism and the Power of the Law (1989) Kirsten Ketscher et al: Den sociale dimension i kvinderetligt perspektiv (1995)

    2) Feminist Jurisprudence: Gender and Law - a historical and comparative perspective (written exam + optional lectures 24 h). Reading list (three works from the following:) Liisa Nieminen: Perusoikeuksien emansipatoriset mahdollisuudet (1990) Kevät Nousiainen: Väkivalta ja naisminä (1997) Carol Smart (ed.): Regulating Womanhood (1992) Joan Hoff: Law, Gender and Injustice. A Legal History of U.S. Women (1991) Kirsten Ketscher: Den offentlige börnepasning i retlig belysning (1990) Ute Frevert: "Mann und Weib, und Weib und Mann". Geschlechter-Differenzen in der Moderne (1995)

    3) Feminist Legal Theory (written exam + optional 20 hrs lecture course "Theoretical Perspectives on Law and Gender") Reading list (three works from the following): Mary Joe Frug: Postmodern Legal Feminism (1992) Frances Olsen (ed.) : Feminist Legal Theory I (1995) Patricia Smith (ed.): Feminist Jurisprudence (1993) Carol Smart: Law, Crime and Sexuality (1995) Martha A. Fineman: The Illusion of Equality (1991) Hanne Petersen: Informel ret på kvindearbejdspladser: en retsteoretisk og empirisk analyse (1991)

    4) Seminar in Feminist Jurisprudence: Legal Methods to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (independent work + seminar 20 h)

    5) Seminar: Current Legal Issues on Law and Gender (independent work + 20 h seminar)

University of Turku

    Introduction to Women's Law (2 study weeks) Seminar 21 hrs or a written exam Reading list: Riitta Turunen (toim.): Naisnäkökulmia oikeuteen (1992) or Gudrun Nordborg (toim.): 13 kvinnoperspektiv på rätten (1995) Åström & Hirdman (eds): Kontrakt i kris. Om kvinnors plats i välfärdsstaen (1992) tai Peters & Wolper (ed.): Women's Rights, human rights. International Feminist Perspectives (1995).

University of Lapland

    1) Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence (3 study weeks; written exam + optional 20 h lecture course on violence against women) Reading list: Turunen (ed.): Naisnäkökulmia oikeuteen tai Nordborg (red.): 13 kvinnoperspektiv på rätten Dahl: Women's Law - an Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence -one work to be negotiated from the following: Smart: Feminism and the Power of the Law; Ketscher: Den sociale dimension i kvinderetligt perspektiv; Naffine: Law and the Sexes

    2) Gender and Law from Comparative and Historical Perspective (2 study weeks, written exam) Reading list: Nieminen: Perusoikeuksien emansipatoriset mahdollisuudet? Nousiainen: Väkivalta ja naisminä

    3) Feminist Legal Theory (2 study weeks, written exam) Reading list: Olsen: Feminist Legal Theory (or some other theoretical work) A student can choose any of these courses to pass an optional 5 study weeks' unit on Women's Law. Information available in Internet: (in Finnish)


Universität Bremen

    1) EG-Recht und Arbeitsrecht: Gleichbehandlung der Geschlechter 2) Die Entwicklung der strafrechtlichen Regelungen und der Strafrechtspraxis zum Schwangerschaftsabbruch in Deutschland von 1945 bis heute 3) Feministische Rechtstheorie


Universiteit Utrecht Optional courses in four different themes:

    1) Violence against women 2) Discrimination in theory and practice 3) Women and Law: the (in)visibility of care in selected legal areas 4) International Law and Women: equal treatment in the EC


Universitetet i Oslo Three optional courses in Women's Law:

    1) Criminal Law (up until 1996)
    2) Equality in Working Life: Theory of Women's Law, Equal Opportunities Act, Equal Pay, EC Law
    3) International Law: Introduction to Scandinavian Women's Law, The United Nations Women's Convention, and Women, Law and Development Courses include lectures, seminars and independent work based on indicated literature.


Umeå Universitet

    Women's Law (10 points out of 160 in Master's degree) 5 seminars à 6 hrs + written exam and/or papers Literature requirements: Dahlberg/Nordborg/Wiklund: Kvinnor§ rätt (1990) Hyden, Håkan: Rättsregler. En introduktion till juridiken (1987) Jeffner Stina: Kvinnojourkunskap (1994) Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift 1994/2 (tema:Europa) Nordborg Gudrun (red): 13 kvinnoperspektiv på rätten (1995) Nordborg Gudrun: Rättsfallskompendier (1997) Nordborg Gudrun (red): Kompendier med kvinnorättsliga artiklar osv (1997) Olsson Hanna: Catrine och rättvisan (1990) Lundgren Eva: Våldets normaliseringsprocess På tal om kvinnor och män. Lathund för jämställdhet. (1996) Mänskliga rättigheter. Förenta Nationerna och kvinnans rättigheter. UD informerar 1993:6. Mänskliga rättigheter. Konventionen om barnets rättigheter. UD informerar 1996:2. The Law of Sweden.


University of Glasgow

    Gender perspective is integrated in the courses on Labour Law and EC-Law.

University of Warwick

    One optional course on women and the law, covering such themes as marriage, women's rights, women and the welfare state, feminist theory, patriarchy and the law, sexual behaviour, law and control, and health and reproduction

There are also other institutes offering courses in this field. We are happy to add a link to their pages, if requested.