The Emerging Global Gender Equality Regime from Neoliberal and Constructivist Perspectives in International Relations


Kardam, Nüket. 2004. “The Emerging Global Gender Equality Regime from Neoliberal and Constructivist Perspectives in International Relations.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 6 (1): 85-109.

Author: Nüket Kardam


A global gender equality regime has emerged, identifiable by its norms, principles, legal instruments and compliance mechanisms, I suggest that neoliberal theories of international regimes provide insights into the identification of this regime and the conditions for its emergence. They acknowledge the role of transnational networks, international institutions and epistemic communities of experts in shaping state choices. Global women's networks, together with multilateral and bilateral development organizations, have been instrumental in shaping these global norms on gender equality by engaging in a learning process — framing issues, influencing negotiations by the information they provide and monitoring progress. But the neoliberal theories tell us nothing about the norms themselves, their contestation in different contexts and the structures that support them and give them meaning. A second theoretical framework in international relations, constructivism, opens the way to a crucial appreciation of gender as an analytical category, demonstrating how gender norms and identities are constructed, contested and reconstructed in historical, and sociopolitical contexts. It thus potentially allows us to examine how a 'gender equality regime', as defined by its principles, norms and decision-making mechanisms, needs to be further deconstructed and analyzed to reveal how global norms get interpreted, reinterpreted, filled in and contested on a continuing basis, within different and sometimes competing institutions. Otherwise, such norms are bound to remain superficial and may obfuscate rather than clarify.

Keywords: global gender equality regime, global women's networks, gender equality norms, constructivism and gender, neoliberal approach in international relations and gender

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Organizations

Year: 2004

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