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EU, as well as in Eastern Central Europe, we need to first situate its emergence globally. Jacqui True (2001) argues that within a short period of time GM became a global phenomenon, with more than 100 national governments implementing some sort of GM policy, largely due to the efforts of well-organized international bodies such as the UN and transnational women’s and feminist NGO networks. Such transnational collaboration on social issues has been unprecedented. While globalization often increased inequalities between nation states and between men and women – a phenomenon known as the ‘feminization of poverty’ – it also allowed enormous global organizing to bring gender issues to the forefront of development discourse. The UN and its International Conferences on Women played a critical role in putting GM on the international agenda. Discussions on GM started as early as 1985, although GM made a major breakthrough at the Beijing Conference in 1995. According to Hafner-Burton “In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing committed both the UN’s member states and its constituent international organizations (IOs) to the principle of ‘gender mainstreaming’ the notion that gender would become a transversal consideration in all aspects of national and international decision-making, cutting across all issue-areas and across all stages of the policy cycle from conception to implementation” (2007). The EU implemented GM as a Union-wide policy in 1996, although some Scandinavian states had various gender equality policies in place much earlier (Polack and Hafner-Burton 2000). Gromek-Broc, for example, argues that EU enlargement process also contributed to discussions about equality and gender equality as necessary element for democratic development. “The Commission’s 2004 Green Paper on Equality and Non-Discrimination in an Enlarged Europe had a dual purpose: assessing the progress made with regard to discrimination legislation but, also, gathering public opinion as to how to (re)shape enforcement mechanisms in order to more effectively promote equality” (2006). GM is sometimes referred to as a ’metapolicy’, a policy strategy about how policy should be made and implemented (Gerber 2007). The EU has been advocating for gender equality through various Treaties and Directives. However, most of it has been in the legal
sphere, such as equal pay for men and women and focusing on closing “gender gap” in employment.1 Although EU gender equality and GM policies internationally are perceived as the most effective and advanced social policy model, there are a variety of critiques and problems associated with it. Jane Jensen, for example, argues that even if gender equality or “equal opportunities” for the most part have been implemented in the spheres of politics and employment, women still often hold low-paid or part-time jobs and constitute “three- quarters of the working poor” (2006). Lombardo and Meier argue that in Europe “the barriers to gender mainstreaming are not due to a difficulty in assimilating the concept, but rather to the patriarchal opposition to feminist goals implied in the strategy” (2006). Feminist goals such as transformation of patriarchal culture, deeseentializing gender, critiquing gender not as merely a woman’s issue but also men’s or going beyond binary understanding of gender alltogether. Although the European Commission officially states that “EU policy as regards equality between women and men takes a comprehensive approach which includes legislation, mainstreaming and positive actions” (2008). Stratigaki, however, argues that GM served as a replacement, not a substitute to the positive action and that there is a need to combine positive action and GM in order to alleviate historically persistent inequalities. (2005). She also states that obstacles to GM, at least in part, can be explained by examining the “institutional context of the powerful and deeply hierarchical European Commission, where top-level administration and technocratic staff can play a decisive role” (2005). Judith Squires also argues that to celebrate GM as a success is too early. Although feminist movement is often regarded as one of the most successful such analysis should be approached critically. It might be that feminist movement simply got successfully co-opted and coincided with particular economic developments (such as post-Fordism) in which there was increasingly need for women’s labor and larger, more educated labor force. The shift from a grassroots social justice movement which called for wide cultural change to the one incorporated within the state structures needs to be critically assessed. Even if GM was driven by feminist theories and organizing, GM remains a highly contested notion among policy makers, scholars, and feminist alike. Eveline and Bacchi, for example, argue that the notion of gender, although widely used in policy documents, remains a largely contested concept (2005). They do not propose fixed and static meaning of gender, but rather
suggest seeing it as a verb –gendering – or fluid, progressing concept which should always be situated in a particular context. Nevertheless, the lack of a clear conceptual understanding might inhibit effective gender policy. Then, they summarize various debates that happened in feminist theory, which could be divided into categories of “sameness,” “difference,” and “transformation.” In social policy, “gender” as a concept is often stripped of its feminist connotation as a theoretical and social change tool and not a simple “women’s problem.” “By distinguishing sex (as biology) from gender (as social attributes, norms and behaviors) feminists were able to argue that there was no natural basis to the ‘caring’ expected of women, and to affirm that while women and men may generally be different in physique and reproductive function those differences had no relevance for the opportunities they should be offered and the activities in which they could engage” (Mitchell 2004, quoted in Eveline 2005). When it comes to East Central Europe contextual and theoretical difficulties become even more complicated. For example, the widely used English word “gender” does not exist in most ECE languages and often was used in its un-translated foreign form, providing another reason to discredit it as culturally un-adoptable import. In other countries, such as Lithuania, it is used as a word “sex” without making distinction between two terms, defeating its politicized feminist connotations. Numerous authors have argued that the rush before EU enlargement to implement various gender equality policies were purely instrumental (Eihernhorn 2005, Regulska 2002, Jezerska 2005, Taljunaite 2005, Novikova 2005). Molen and Novikova (2005), for example, argue that GM fails to encapsulate more complex intersections of gender, nationality, citizenship and social exclusion. Estonia and Latvia have large populations of ethnic Russians that became disenfranchised after the independence. “Despite the commendable objectives of increased economic growth and rising living standards, the first decade of reforms produced an economic reality showing a picture of increased poverty, large falls in real wages, a reduction in jobs, and a substantial increase in criminal activities” (Molen and Novikova 2005: 140). In this period women from ethnic minorities disproportionably ended up in poverty and sex trafficking. When it comes to GM in ECE, Molin and Novikova argue, the approach is “integrationist” rather than “transformative” (142). Other feminists have been talking about the “add women and stir” approach, which does not transform existing cultural and institutional arrangements but rather strategically inserts tokens to create an illusion of equality. Taljunaite, discussing Lithuania’s
GM policies, states that “despite these formal commitments to gender mainstreaming, and except for a few initiatives, there is very little evidence that this approach is actually being implemented” (2005). She argues that gender mainstreaming is understood as gendered policy analysis not a transformational approach to institutions. The hesitancy to implement gender equality should be situated in the particular post-Soviet context, which saw large cultural shift towards traditional family and resurgence of patriarchal values. Women’s emancipation is often perceived as an outdated concept. Manja Nickel describes the ECE environment, where “‘Western’ researchers and policy makers were alarmed by noticing a multitude of inequalities in post-socialist countries. They were generally alienated by an antifeminist attitude which they perceive not only among the local population but also within academic circles and political elites” (2008). The very few advocates of gender equality are either women’s NGOs without broad support and legitimacy or state institutions that overlook legal reforms in compliance with EU. In Lithuania, for example, Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Ombudsman position has been set up. However later “women” and “men” got taken out of the tittle, which was seen as a major defeat by the women’s NGOs which advocated for such position in the first place (Taljunaite 2005) Overall, GM has made progress in various areas of social and political life. Pollack and HafnerBurton (2000), for example, examined evidence of gender mainstreaming in procedure and policy in five issue-areas: (a) Structural Funds; (b) Employment and Social Affairs; (c) Development; (d) Competition; and (e) Science, Research and Development”) and Directorate-Generals were relatively successful in the first three (Molin and Novikova 2005). Even feminists that are critical of GM and especially its prospects of success in ECE acknowledge that it still can be a positive tool. However, to talk about GM as a success story is clearly too early. Squires reminds that “while gender inequality has apparently decreased, class-based and North-South inequalities have ominously increased” within EU and globally (2007). Sylvia Walby similarly points out that “gender mainstreaming is always situated in the context of other diverse and intersecting inequalities” (2003-4). References:
Eveline, Joan and Bacchi, Carol. 2005. “What are We Mainstreaming When We Mainstreaming Gender?” International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4): 496-512. Gromek-Broc, Katarzyna. 2006. “Equality Issues in the CEE Countries: Women and DecisionMaking in the Labor Market.” Review of Central and East European Law, 31: 413-463. Gerber, Alexandra. 2007. “Gender Mainstreaming and becoming European: At the Intersection of Polish and EU Gender Discourses” Presented at the 10th Biennial EUSA Meeting Montreal, Canada May 17, 2007. Hafner-Burton, Emilie. 2007. “The Promise and Pitfalls of Gender Mainstreaming in Global Governance: The Case of the European Union.” Conference Paper, International Studies Association 2007 Annual Meeting, p1. Jenson, Jane. 2006. “The European Social Model: Gender and Generational Equality.” In eds. Giddens et al. Global Europe, Social Europe. Cambridge: Polity. 151-171. Lombardo, Emanuela, and Petra Meier. 2006. “Gender Mainstreaming in the EU: Incorporating a Feminist Reading?” European Journal of Women's Studies 13 (2): 151-166. Molen, Irna van der and Novikova, Irina. 2005. “Mainstreaming gender in the EU-accession process: the case of the Baltic Republics.” Journal of European Social Policy 2005(15): 139-156. Nickel, Anja. 2008. “Gender Mainstreaming.” Working Paper in Governing Difference. A Challenge for New Democracies in Central and South Eastern European Countries. Accessed on March 2, 2008 at http://typo3.univie.ac.at/index.php?id=20396 Polack, Mark A. and Hafner-Burton, Emilie. 2000. “Mainstreaming Gender in the European Union.” Stratigaki, Maria. 2005. Gender Mainstreaming vs Positive Action: An Ongoing Conflict in EU Gender Equality Policy. European Journal of Women's Studies 12 (2):165-186. Taljunaite, Meilute. 2005. “Gender Mainstreaming as a Strategy for Promoting Gender Equality in Lithuania.” Sociologicky Casopis/Czech sociological Review 41 (6): 1041-1055. True, Jackie and Mintrom, Michael. 2001. “Transnational Networks and Policy Diffusion: The Case of Gender Mainstreaming.” International Studies Quarterly, 45: 27-57. Walby, Sylvia. 2003-4. “Gender Mainstreaming: Productive Tensions in Theory and Practice.” Contribution to ESRC Gender Mainstreaming Seminars, 2003-4. 1For example 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam which “includes multiple new provisions strengthening EU competence in the area of equal opportunities. In place of the original, one-paragraph Article 119 on equal pay, the member states agreed to a new Article 119 (now renumbered Article 141), which strengthens the original language on equal pay; provides for qualified majority voting in
the Council, and co-decision with the European Parliament for future equal opportunities legislation” (Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000). Also according to the EC office of Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities gender equality should be implemented in accordance with “articles 2 and 3 of the EC Treaty (gender mainstreaming) as well as Article 141 (equality between women and men in matters of employment and occupation) and Article 13 (sex discrimination within and outside the work place).” (2008). [Type text]
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