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Feminist Mobilization, Claims Making and Policy Change—4 articles published in Development and Change

Feminist Mobilization, Claims Making and Policy Change—4 articles published in Development and Change
The articles published in Development and Change seek to understand how policy change to strengthen women’s rights occurs. When and why do states respond to women’s claims-making? What are the factors and conditions under which non-state actors can effectively trigger and influence policy change? What mechanisms are necessary to ensure that issues get on the policy agenda?

The articles in this cluster come from the research project When and Why Do StatesRespond to Women’s Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change in Asia. The project was carried out between 2013 and 2015 under the auspices of UNRISD, with funding from the Ford Foundation and support from UNRISD’s institutional budget provided by the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Finland. A wide range of project outputs, including the country research reports, policy briefs and videos, are available open access.

Feminist Mobilization, Claims Making and Policy Change: An Introduction
Nitya Rao, Paola Cagna

More than two decades after the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing, gender equality policies have not delivered in the ways envisaged. This special cluster of articles seeks to understand why. Women's mobilization and feminist activism was central to the Beijing process and the advocacy that followed, yet their influence on policy processes seems constrained in the current context of global political and economic changes. The articles in this cluster explore the negotiations between different actors, institutions and discourses — and the tensions and contradictions therein — as explanations for why certain domains of women's rights remain at the margins of political agendas and others receive more attention. Specifically, why have women's labour rights and the demands of the unpaid care economy failed to gain policy traction? The articles point to the importance of political practice, which includes the ‘framing’ of policy demands as compelling narratives, engagement with state entities and the forming and managing of alliances. There are trade‐offs inherent in each of these elements, for example, between transformative gender equality objectives and the pragmatic impulse to frame claims in less politically and socially threatening ways. Further, in a context of increasing globalization, mobilization is required at multiple levels — from the local to the transnational. The articles thus seek to deepen our understanding of how policy change for women's rights occurs.

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Women Workers and the Politics of Claims Making: The Local and the Global
Naila Kabeer

This article analyses the evolving politics of claims making in relation to women workers in the global South. It asks what claims are being made and by whom, who these claims are addressed to and what strategies are being employed to press these claims. It distinguishes between women working for global markets and those working for domestic markets in order to identify possible differences in constraints, priorities and opportunities underlying these strategies. It also distinguishes between the different kinds of organizations involved in making claims: organizations of women workers, organizations working with women workers and organizations working on behalf of women workers. The article is one of several papers forming a cluster on feminist mobilizations.

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Feminist Activism and the Politics of Reform: When and Why Do States Respond to Demands for Gender Equality Policies?
Anne Marie Goetz. Rob Jenkins

Under what conditions is gender equality policy advocacy successful? This article examines a segment of the largely quantitative comparative political science literature that seeks to answer this question. Recent scholarship emphasizes such factors as the strength of women's movements and the forms of opposition to which their policy demands give rise. However, one consequence of this approach is that the role of strategic choices made by feminist policy advocates is underestimated in explaining their successes. The article argues that understanding variation in the outcomes achieved by women's rights advocates requires close attention to the strategic capacity of policy entrepreneurs, assessed in terms of three inter‐related activities: (1) ‘framing’ policy demands; (2) forming and managing civic alliances; and (3) engaging with state entities without compromising organizational autonomy.

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Global Agendas, Local Norms: Mobilizing around Unpaid Care and Domestic Work in Asia
Nitya Rao

This article explores the articulation and framing of unpaid care work and the mobilization around it at two spatial scales, the global and national. For the latter it focuses on three of the largest and most diverse countries in Asia — India, China and Indonesia. While the concept of unpaid care work has received considerable attention in international development discourse, it is rarely found in feminist mobilization and advocacy across these countries. The article asks why this issue remains largely excluded from women's political agendas. It also explores how it is framed when it is included. While most organizations recognize women's double burden and the importance of domestic labour, they do not consider ‘unpaid care work’ as a legitimate political issue around which to mobilize. Rather, it is framed, if at all, as part of other political agendas, such as the rights of the elderly (in China), the rights to social protection, especially childcare and maternity entitlements (in India), or the right to equal opportunities within marriage (in Indonesia). The study analyses the differences in framing, the conceptualization of gender equality embedded therein, and the implications for policy.

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Find more information on the UNRISD related research: When and Why Do States Respond to Women's Claims? Understanding Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change in Asia.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 23 Mar 2018
    Pub. Place: United States
    From: Wiley Blackwell