What is feminist policy? Why is it so important for our contemporary democratic systems to adopt and actually implement policies that formally promote women’s rights and status, however those rights and status are defined in a specific national context, and to strike down gender hierarchies? How do students of democratic performance actually assess feminist policy success as it is placed on government agendas and pursued in specific policies across a wide range of sectors of government action?
These are especially crucial questions given how on one hand women’s movements, representing a broad range of voices and taking a multitude of forms, have been demanding governments to take action since the mid 1960s and on the other hand, governments have often responded to these demands through quite symbolic reforms- policy outputs without any real results. Thus, the puzzle we seek to examine in this workshop is how, to what degree and why does feminist policy matter in western post industrial democracies and do they make our stable and consolidated democracies more democratic.
The highly active and successful field of study that focuses on these questions, Feminist Comparative Policy, will be first covered. Next, students will be exposed to the thorny problems of how to define and measure feminist government action and determine what constitutes a feminist policy success. The workshop will take a close look at the approach, framework and research methodology of the current 100 member research group the Gender Equality Policy in Practice Programme (http://www.csbppl.com/gepp/). On the second day, we will look at two crucial sectors of feminist policy – violence against women and political representation- to better understand these two policy sectors and the challenges of studying in any definitive way whether feminist policy matters. As such, this seminar, provides a hands on detailed insight into a major research problem and issue for understanding how our contemporary democracies function in the 21st century.