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Gender mainstreaming in the EU: A paradox for women's organisations

Reis, Sara (2018) Gender mainstreaming in the EU: A paradox for women's organisations. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis is about transnational women’s organisations and their interaction with the European Union institutions. The focus is on how the EU’s turn to gender mainstreaming as its main approach to achieve gender equality has impacted the ability of women’s groups to organise, finance themselves, and contribute to the EU policymaking process. Three transnational women’s organisations that interact regularly with the EU in different policy fields were chosen as case studies. The starting point is the paradox that the adoption of gender mainstreaming seems to have created for women’s groups. Analysis of critiques to gender mainstreaming implementation in the literature brings out two scenarios: 1) By rhetorically opening up all policy areas to a consideration of gender, gender mainstreaming potentially affords opportunities for women’s groups’ engagement in new venues and issues; however, 2) the mal-implementation of the mechanism is widespread and may curtail not just the revolutionary potential of gender mainstreaming but can also justify the dismantling of existing women-targeting instruments and networks. The main goal of this thesis is to map out the political opportunities for women’s groups in the EU and the role of gender mainstreaming in their opening. Research proceeded in two stages: first, the implementation of gender mainstreaming in three policy areas was analysed, and second, examples of women’s groups engagement in these policy areas were scrutinised. To this end, I combined feminist institutionalist insights with the literature on EU interest representation to produce a multi-level theoretical approach capable of accounting for the EU’s characteristics that provide opportunities and constraints to women’s groups at the structural, institutional and individual level. This framework affords analytical space for women’s groups’ agency in adapting to the opportunities and pro-actively shaping them through their interaction with the EU political system. This research reveals that the political system of the EU affords opportunities and constraints for gender change and for the engagement of women’s groups. These vary according to the institutional characteristics of the diverse policy venues and to the initiative of individual actors in positions of power. Framing is a crucial strategy employed by women’s groups to circumvent resistance and shape political opportunities for themselves.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Ms Sara Reis
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2018 13:31
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2018 13:31
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20856

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