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Political Science in Europe

The Feminist Movement and the EU: Comparing Resistances to Gender Equality within the EU Institutions and their Consequences for Women's Groups' Access

Civil Society
Interest Groups
Comparative Perspective
European Union
Sara Reis
University of Sheffield
Sara Reis
University of Sheffield

Considerable research has been done on the receptiveness and resistances to gender mainstreaming in different EU institutions and policy fields (Allwood 2014, Cavaghan 2012, Debusscher 2014, Locher and Prügl 2009, Pollack and Hafner-Burton 2000). Recent theorisation has been done on the different forms that these resistances can take at the level of structure, institution or individual (Mergaert and Lombardo 2014). On the other hand, there is also a substantive pool of research on the involvement of women’s groups in the EU policymaking process, particularly through the theorisation of alliances between these civil society groups and femocrats within the EU institutions (Lang 2009, Locher 2007, Woodward 2003, Zippel 2004). This Paper tries to contribute to these sets of literature by analysing the consequences of EU’s receptiveness and resistance to gender equality to women’s groups’ access to the EU institutions and policymaking process. It also aims to understand in what ways women’s groups try to circumvent or change these resistances in order to have their demands heard at the EU level. To do so the paper takes a comparative approach between three different issue-specific women’s groups that interact with different EU policy fields in order to understand where the resistances to gender equality are located within the EU institutions. The Paper uses insights from the literature on EU interest representation, such as ‘venue shopping’, to explain the strategies used by women’s groups to circumvent these resistances. A three-tiered feminist institutionalist approach is used to theorise where the resistances come from (macro, meso or micro level), and where women’s groups mobilise to try to effect change.
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