Framing Issues and Seizing Opportunities: The UN, NGOs, and Women's Rights

Citation:

Joachim, Jutta. 2003. "Framing Issues and Seizing Opportunities: The UN, NGOs, and Women's Rights. "International Studies Quarterly 47 (2): 247-74.

Author: Jutta Joachim

Abstract:

How, why, and under what conditions are NGOs able to influence state's interests? To answer these questions, I examine the process through which women's organizations succeeded in placing front and center on the UN agenda two issues that had been perceived as exclusively private: violence against women and reproductive rights and health. I develop a theoretical framework drawing on both the agenda-setting and social movement literature. I suggest that NGOs attempt to influence states' interests by framing problems, solutions, and justifications for political action. Whether they are successful in mobilizing support is contingent on the dynamic interaction of primarily two factors: (1) the political opportunity structure in which NGOs are embedded, comprising access to institutions, the presence of influential allies, and changes in political alignments and conflicts; and (2) the mobilizing structures that NGOs have at their disposal, including organizational entrepreneurs, a heterogeneous international constituency, and experts. I find that in the beginning of the agenda-setting process, the influence of NGOs is rather limited, their frames are highly contested, and structural obstacles outweigh organizational resources. However, over time the influence of NGOs increases. As they establish their own mobilizing structures, they become capable of altering the political opportunity structure in their favor, and their frames gain in acceptance and legitimacy.

Topics: Gender, Governance, NGOs, Political Participation, Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against women

Year: 2003

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