February 6, 2023

014: The Impact of Women’s Active Citizenship with Kim Rubenstein

Kim Rubenstein highlights the importance of women’s voices in Constitutional Law and active citizenship on Raise 1000 Voices podcast.

Impact of Women’s Active Citzenship

Not a single woman in Australia was involved in the drafting of the Australian Constitution in 1900.  Women – 2 in particular – had to fight for changes to the federal judicial system which made participating in juries more accessible for women.  

Quite literally, women’s voices have been absent, ignored, excluded from the mechanisms that frame and govern almost every part of our life since the creation of our nation.  Which is why Kim Rubenstein – one of Australia’s leading experts in Active Citizenship – is so passionate about her work in Constitutional Law.

In this conversation we unlock the importance of women raising their voices, stepping into active citizenship – and why our voices are vital in the next era of Nation building and the necessary constitutional shifts  

Kim believes, deeply, that our lived experiences are relevant, if not instrumental, in improving how we live and the governance underpinning it    

The absence of our voices as the Constitution, Governments, Legislation and Policy were formed in the creation of the Australian nation has dictated women – and all intersectional parts of society – live a life filled with limitations, where men have dictated what we can and cannot do.   And although society’s structure still makes it difficult for women to recognise the value of active citizenship, Kim hopes to see a change in this space, by acknowledging the hard work of women trailblazers.

Immerse yourself and learn more about Kim’s passion and prowess in her mission to help women understand the impact of their contributions to building a nation that puts high regard on diversity, raising our voices, and the courage to take a stand. 


  • An overview of Kim’s career journey (02:20)
  • Worthwhile outcomes from pursuing the academic pathway (08:40)
  • Why it’s crucial for women to be active citizens of society? (11:48)
  • Women’s role in constitution framing (18:27)
  • What can the current generation learn from women in the past (28:42)
  • Fascinating stories about women owning up to their voice and creating change (30:22)
  • Acknowledging the value of individual contributions and the difference it creates (35:42)
  • The book that made the most impact on Kim (38:49)
  • What is she looking forward to? (42:35)
  • What does present Kim learnt from her younger self (44:20)


“The more we create environments and structures that enable both men and women to be carers in their lives, as well as involved in public roles, the healthier our society will be.” -Kim Rubenstein

“Anyone who can work out a purpose, or a reason for suffering can survive it.” -Kim Rubenstein

“Serve someone other than yourself until you can actually understand how to serve yourself first.” -Jacqueline Nagle 

“If I’m not for myself, who will be for me? But if I’m only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Hillel


Trailblazing women and the law oral history project
Man’s Search for Meaning
Catherine Helen Spence




Kim Rubenstein is a Professor in the Faculty of Business, Government and Law at the University of Canberra.  A graduate of the University of Melbourne and Harvard University, she is Australia’s leading expert on citizenship, both around its formal legal status and in law’s intersection with broader normative notions of citizenship as membership and participation.  This has led to her scholarship around gender and public law, which includes her legal work and her oral history work around women lawyers’ contributions in the public sphere.  She was the Director of the Centre for International and Public law at the ANU from 2006-2015 and the Inaugural Convener of the ANU Gender Institute from 2011-2012.  She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and the Australia Academy of Social Sciences


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If you’re a woman wanting to step into the full power of her voice, her work and her perspective, book a 20 Minute Visibility Breakthrough Call.

We’ll work together to identify:

  • What stops you from stepping into the full power of your voice 
  • Identify where you should be playing and how to play there to get what you want 
  • Identify your next best moves in the Visibility Breakthrough Canvas 

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