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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

Gender Equality and the Occurrence of Indirect Opposition

Contentious Politics
European Politics
Political Sociology
Decision Making
Petra Ahrens
Tampere University
Petra Ahrens
Tampere University

Political disagreements and oppositional standpoints are a common thing in policy-making. Nonetheless, opposition in all its varietes has the potential of hindering the enforcement of fundamental rights such as gender equality. With regard to the European Union, gender equality policy has been characterised as a success story and - as long as there were steps forward - few has been examined with regard to what forms of opposition hinder an effective implementation of e.g. gender mainstreaming. Researchers paid attention to direct opposition such as reluctant employer’s organizations or blimpish organizations; still, this does not fully grasp opposition in all its forms. Adjacent to its direct forms, opposition also exists in indirect forms. In this paper I will discuss indirect opposition as a main feature of opposition in EU gender equality policy-making. The paper shows, where and when gender equality actors face indirect opposition. In gender equality policy, indirect opposition can be categorized in three, sometimes overlapping forms: inertia, ignorance, and degradation. All three forms are specific to gender equality policy and are very effective in hampering further improvements in e.g. the set-up of policy programs. The analysis relies on elite interviews about how policy programs like the “Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-2010)” are set up in EU policy-making.
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