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What They Talk About When They Talk About Women: Gendering Labour Reforms in the News Media

Political Economy
Policy Implementation
Southern Europe
My Rafstedt
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
My Rafstedt
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Laws play a pivotal role in shaping women’s economic agency. When implemented, legislation that supports gender equality can promote women’s labour market participation. This article examines the role of political will in legal implementation by investigating the association between how sub-state governments understand the gendered effects of labour reforms adopted by the national legislature, and their attempts to impact the implementation of these laws. Conducting a within-country comparative study of two neoliberal labour reforms adopted in Spain in 2010 and 2012, I analyse the discursive, political and legislative reactions to these reforms across the Spanish regional governments. The sub-state governments have developed distinct measures to mediate the impact of the reforms, which are shaped by the extent to which they support the labour reforms and their understanding of the gendered effects they will have. In a context of austerity policies and reversals of earlier gender equality gains, the Spanish case demonstrates that political will has the power to influence the outcome of laws even after their adoption and despite limited economic resources.
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