Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN14_03b_P: Mainstreaming and EU Policy
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Susan Eileen Cohen, University of Bristol
Location: PB.2.44
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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Gender Equality and Political Change in Northern Ireland

Stella Warren, Hazel Conley

University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom

Most examples of political change in recent times have had negative connotations for equality. By comparison equality has been at the centre of positive political change in Northern Ireland (NI). Stemming from the Belfast Agreement in 1998, non-discrimination in public service employment and the delivery of public services are key planks in promoting equality of opportunity and good relations in NI. The mechanism for achieving these aims is contained in s.75 of the Northern Ireland Act, considered a particularly successful aspect of the legislation. The legislation requires public authorities to produce an equality scheme and report annually on the progress made towards the objectives laid out in the scheme. The legislation was heavily influenced by European Union policy, particularly the concept of gender equality mainstreaming. Women’s groups in NI played an important role in brokering the agreement and shaping the legislation, but there is some doubt as to how far women in NI have benefited from the legislation.This paper examines how gender equality and mainstreaming is reflected in equality schemes and documentation in 18 case study public authorities in NI, including the setting of gender equality goals and clear timetables and plans to achieve the goals. The case studies involved documentary analysis of equality schemes, action plans and annual progress reports coupled with semi-structured interviews with the key equality officer in each authority. The results so far indicate mixed results, with some schemes developing effective measures for gender equality but to a much lesser extent in others.

Gender mainstreaming done behind closed doors – an unintentional catalyst for anti-gender mobilization?

Marta Rawłuszko

University of Warsaw, Poland

Gender mainstreaming (GM) is regarded as a feminist strategy aiming at influencing public policies and thus improving women’s lives. In current battles against neoliberalism and state dismantling, successful GM, understood as the stronger presence of feminists within state structures, is considered a significant challenge to contemporary feminism. The strategy is risky and its ultimate positive impact remains highly problematic. The picture is even more complex in the case of local manifestations of GM. In Poland’s case, GM became a part of local administrative practices as a result of Europeanization, i.e. the process of subjecting domestic policies to European law. Thus, the strategy eluded parliamentary control and public debate.

The aim of the presentation is twofold. Firstly, it will contribute to existing scholarship on effectiveness of GM in shaping social policies. I will show that the strategy brings positive results but that they are limited to the state administration’s internal organizational gender regimes. Secondly, I will show that GM, if implemented in a non-democratic, expert/bureaucratic manner, may produce new tensions around gender policies and constitute an unintentional catalyst for conservative backlash. I will argue that the local specifics of GM implementation in Poland have fuelled popular fears of a state slipping away from people’s control and being overtaken by the external forces of international feminism.

The presentation is data-driven and based on two qualitative analyses: 1) 29 in-depth interviews with feminists and state administrators, both involved in GM implementation; 2) critical discourse analysis of the narratives of opponents of “gender ideology”.

Rethinking New Economic Governance from Feminist Political Economy approaches

Astrid Agenjo

Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla, Spain

The objective of this work is to incorporate the Feminist Political Economics perspectives to the analysis of the challenges of the EU, transcending the conventional economic look to locate people and their living conditions in the centre. In particular, analyzing the challenges of the European model of social cohesion, solidarity and equal opportunities after the economical recession and, specifically, in the current context of New Economic Governance. The hypothesis held is that, in this context, there is a fundamental contradiction regarding the maintenance of the European social model and the objectives of the "inclusive, sustainable and intelligent growth" stated in the Europe 2020 strategy, since, at the same time, it exists a strict fiscal discipline demanded by the Stability and Growth Pact that has resulted in a deflationary adjustment moved to labour markets and to the core components of social policy (mainly in the peripheral economies). This has a crucial gender impact as the structural adjustment causes directly an intensification of the unpaid work in the households and, within them, specific subjects who embody the ultimate responsibility over the daily well-being. Households are the basic unit of welfare, but they are not harmonious units because they are organized according to a "family debt" and a "mandate of gender" that delegate such responsibility to women, both material and symbolically. Gender is a cornerstone for the creation and allocation of resources for the maintenance of the well-being in the European context.

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