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Political Science in Europe

Gender Mainstreaming done Right? Creating an EU Policy on Combatting Violence Against Women through a Piecemeal Approach

European Union
Human Rights
Policy Analysis
Sara Reis
University of Sheffield
Sara Reis
University of Sheffield

Ending violence against women has been a clear EU commitment in the previous (2010-2015) and current (2016-2020) EU strategies for gender equality. However, contrary to other gender equality issues which have been addressed through binding and specific legislation, such as the case of reconciliation of work and family life with the maternity leave and parental leave directives, or the case of economic decision-making parity through the corporate quotas directive, the issue of violence against women has been legislated by including a gender dimension into general legislation such as the victims' rights directive, the European Protection Order directive, and the trafficking in human beings directive. At first glance, this could be seen as a successful case of gender mainstreaming in the protection of victims. However, the manner in which gender and gender equality were framed matters in determining whether this can be seen as a successful or failed case of gender mainstreaming. This paper aims to critically analyse the gender frames used by different actors during the negotiation of the victims' rights and the European Protection Order directives: where they came from, who vouched for them, which frames were ultimately adopted. The overall aim is to assess whether gender mainstreaming has been able to compensate for the absence of binding legislation at the EU level in the field of violence against women.
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