How Accessing Information Enables Women's Equitable Participation in Public Affairs

Author:Honor Tuohy
Position:The Author is currently working towards an LLM in International Human Rights Law and Public Policy in University College Cork
Pages:73-83
(2019) 18 COLR 73
73
HOW ACCESSING INFORMATION ENABLES WOMEN’S EQUITABLE
PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Honor Tuohy*
With concerted efforts, governments and [civil society organisations] can reverse the
information asymmetry and ensure that women are able to exercise their fundamental
right to information with the same facility as men. When armed with power of
information, women will benefit more fully from the values of openness, accountability
and meaningful participation, and will use the information for economic empowerment
and the fulfilment and protection of rights. A free flow of information to women will
transform lives.
1
A INTRODUCTION
Access to information has reached the level of a quasi-constitutional or constitutional right in
many democratic states, a status which is referred to as the ‘constitutional anchoring’ of
Freedom of Information (FOI).
2
It follows that this anchoring is a basis for ‘judicial review of
administrative actions and parliamentary legislation’.
3
Initially, this article will draw an outline
of the development of regional codification around the right to information in order to highlight
that the right to access information is a fundamental part of the ‘proper functioning of
substantive as well as procedural democracy’.
4
Access to information is thus shown as ‘a
necessary condition for the exercise of other human and civil rights’.
5
The reasoning given for
the central importance of a right to information is that a healthy democracy requires citizens
who are ‘sufficiently well-informed’ to enable useful participation in public affairs.
6
Thus,
transparency, when applied to governmental procedure, is central to citizens’ ‘oversight’
* The Author is currently working towards an LLM in International Human Rights Law and Public Po licy in
University College Cork. She is focused on understanding current global legal systems and methods being used
to reinforce oppressive governmental and organisational structures, especially in terms of women and their status
within society. She has a P hD in Management from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) which studied the
legitimisation of organisations and the processes used by people w ithin them to augment their standing and
legitimacy
1
Laura Neuman, ‘The Right of Access to Information: E xploring Gender Inequities’ in Duncan Edwards and
Rosie McGee (eds), Opening Governance (Institute of Development Studies 2016) 83, 95.
accessed 23 March 2019.
2
Roy Peled and Yoram Rabin, ‘The Constitutional Right to Information’ (2011) 42(2) Columbia Human Rights
Law Review 357, 380.
3
ibid.
4
ibid 369.
5
ibid 369, 370.
6
Maeve McDonagh, ‘The Right to Information in International Human Rights Law’ (2013) 13(1) Human Rights
Law Review 25, 38.

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