WiSE Research Fellow, Rosalind Cavaghan’s debut book is out this month.
‘Making Gender Equality Happen’ looks at the implementation of Gender Mainstreaming, a policy which has been adopted by over 100 countries since 1996, but which has produced disappointing results.
In the years since its launch, Gender Mainstreaming has been plagued by a knotty problem. Many people outside feminist circles can’t imagine how to ‘mainstream’ gender. Indeed, the book opens with an interview where the author meets a civil servant banging their fist on the table, telling her ‘there is no gender problem!’
Cavaghan argues that the Sociology of Knowledge can tell us much about how to deal with these implementation problems.
In common with many staff at WiSE and GCU, Cavaghan has strong links with policy makers. Originally policy consultant, she describes her own initial difficulty understanding ‘gender theory’.
This convinced her to look at Gender Mainstreaming as a process of competition between different perspectives, and led her to develop a new conceptual tool kit, ‘gender knowledge contestation analysis’ to trace these processes.
In this way, Making Gender Equality Happen, tries to make the cutting edge of academic gender theory accessible to new comers. Initial chapters give a thorough overview of how thinking on gender, public policy and the state has developed ending with an explanation of the core questions research still grapple with.
The books empirical chapters apply ‘gender knowledge contestation analysis’ to illustrate to policy makers why it can be difficult to put high ideals into practice in large organisations and how to predict and circumvent common implementation problems.
As such, Cavaghan’s book presents a more optimistic and practical assessment of Gender Mainstreaming than many of her peers. However, she also argues for continued efforts to theorise ‘resistance’ to gender equality policies, a phenomenon that she argues, is currently on the rise in the EU.
‘Making Gender Equality Happen: Knowledge Change and Resistance in EU Gender Mainstreaming’, is available at a 20% discount direct from Routledge’s site using the code FLR40 at checkout.