Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This broad ranging new text provides a systematic assessment of the emergence of gender as a significant issue on the EU agenda and of the EU's impact on gender inequality, both in terms of specifically gender-related policies and the gender dimensions of other policies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introducing Gender and the European Union

Abstract
The family portraits of the leaders of the European Union (EU) are familiar to us all. Dating back to the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, they show rows of white men in black suits. By 2007, when the EU celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, little had changed from a gender perspective. Whilst the number of leaders had increased exponentially, only one woman, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, appeared in the front row among the EU leaders.
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 2. The History of Gender and the European Union

Abstract
How has gender equality policy developed at the supranational EU level? How did it ever get started in male-dominated decision-making bodies? How did the understandings of the contents of gender equality and the ways of achieving it change? What role did the different EU institutions — the Commission, the Parliament, the Council, the Court — play in this? And did the states implement sex discrimination directives?
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 3. Gendering Political Representation in the European Union

Abstract
The Communications Commissioner Margot Wallström stated in February 2008 that she was fed up with the EU being governed by the ‘reign of old men’. ‘An inner circle of male decision-makers agree behind closed doors on whom to nominate to EU top jobs’ and ‘old men choose old men, as always’, she said in a widely publicized interview with the Swedish daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet (8 February 2008). Whilst many feminists were undoubtedly jubilant at her having spoken out, others may have been disappointed about the realities of the gendered power structures of EU decision-making. Women’s political representation both in the European Parliament (31 per cent) and in the Commission (30 per cent) stood at record levels although far from the parity representation of 50–50. The number of women in national governments, by contrast, varied greatly from 5 per cent in Greece to 60 per cent in Finland in 2007, and women continued to be concentrated in some (feminized) ministerial posts. This of course has consequences for the constitution of the Council, where the representation of women is the lowest of all the EU institutions. The ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon created new top jobs in the EU — including that of a permanent president of the Council and a foreign minister — and it is mainly men’s names that have been put forward in the media. It is at these highest echelons of power that Wallström’s statement seemed to be directed.
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 4. Policy-Making Processes, Actors and Institutions in the EU from a Gender Perspective

Abstract
The European Union operates within a complex setting of transnational actors, institutions and policy-making processes. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the policy-making processes in the EU and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses from a gender perspective. This chapter therefore tackles some basic questions involved in the formulation of gender policy: What opportunities do the EU policy-making processes provide for promoting gender equality? With what political tools is gender equality being advanced and what challenges are there in the process? What role do civil society organizations play in these policy-making processes?
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 5. The EU Gender Policy: Reconciling Work and Family

Abstract
This chapter discusses a key EU debate within gender policy: that around the reconciliation of work and family. The debate is interesting for a number of different reasons. First, the notion of reconciling work and family plays a key role in EU rhetoric on social policy more generally. The debate illustrates the tendency of social policy concerns that initially give priority to, for example, gender equality to be overtaken by economic issues and framed in a way that gives priority to market concerns. Second, reconciliation policies cover a wide range. In the EU, they are defined as policies that directly support the combination of professional, family and private life and cover childcare services, leave facilities, flexible working arrangements and financial allowances for working parents. This is an example of a policy field where member state variations are huge. Two broad trends comprise: first, collectivizing care by providing tax-funded care programmes, such as paid parental leave and subsidised public childcare, and second, privatizing care by encouraging family members to take on care responsibilities without compensation or supporting and regulating care given by volunteers (Haas 2003: 95). Finally, reconciliation of work and family is promoted through both hard law and soft law measures and is thus embedded in the changing modes of EU governance, making it possible to evaluate them from a gender perspective.
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 6. Gender Mainstreaming in EU Policy-Making

Abstract
Gender mainstreaming takes the EU agenda and tools for furthering gender equality beyond anti-discrimination, equal opportunities and positive action measures. Theresa Rees defines gender mainstreaming as ‘the promotion of gender equality through its systematic integration into all systems and structures, into all policies, processes and procedures, into the organisation and its culture, into ways of seeing and doing’ (Rees 2005: 560). Gender mainstreaming thus enables the expansion of EU gender policy from fields traditionally considered propitious for gender equality, such as family policy, to new ones including training policies (Rees 1998), employment (Rubery 2003), trade (Hoskyns 2007, True 2009), development (Debusscher and True 2008) and structural funds (Braithwaite 2000). This ‘new’ approach, gender mainstreaming, has come to signify modernity in gender equality policy (Daly 2005: 441). Positive interpretations of the potential of gender mainstreaming have indeed stressed that it makes gender equality a horizontal concern that needs to be addressed by everyone. Gender mainstreaming has the potential to change masculine structures and policies by mainstreaming gender into all policy fields and legislation (Rees 1998: 46). It also requires the development of new policy tools and thereby ‘links a revolutionary goal, e.g. the end of sexual inequality, to rational public administrative tools’ (Woodward 2003: 69). These new policy tools have included gender impact assessment and gender budgeting.
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 7. Gender Violence in the European Union

Abstract
Early feminist evaluations argued that the EU has severely neglected women’s bodily rights as an important aspect of gender equality (Elman 1996, Hanmar 1996). While violence has been a core concern for feminist scholars, mainstream political science has dismissed violence as a private and personal matter that did not involve power relations and fell outside the study of politics in the ‘public sphere’. Similarly, mainstream EU scholars may regard the issue of violence as falling outside EU competence and policy and as a field to be tackled within the sphere of domestic policy. This chapter focuses on two forms of gender violence, namely trafficking in women and domestic violence, to show how EU level policy-making and discourses about gender violence are proliferating. The EU is breaking new ground in moving to the seemingly ‘private’ issue of violence against women. The emerging policy also points to an expansion of the EU gender policy agenda beyond employment and the labour market which were discussed in previous chapters. Such transnational and international activism and policy on violence have long been deemed important in changing national policies and discourses about violence. Norms about bodily integrity as central to human rights have been particularly successful transnationally and crossculturally and gender advocates use these norms to push recalcitrant governments into action (Keck and Sikkink 1998).
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 8. ‘Tackling Multiple Discrimination’: Gender and Intersecting Inequalities

Abstract
From the beginning of the women’s liberation movement in Europe, feminism has been criticized by black women and lesbians for representing only the concerns of white middle-class women. Gay and lesbian rights activists, and migrant and disability rights movements have gained in visibility in the international arena over the past decade. The intersecting hierarchies of gender, race, economic class, sexuality, religion, disability and age represent a significant challenge for contemporary equality theorists. To address the legal and political consequences of these intersecting hierarchies, Kimberly Crenshaw (1991) coined the term ‘intersectionality’. In her theory, black women are located at the intersection of racism and sexism and their experiences cannot be reduced to either. Anti-discrimination law and equality policy, by contrast, relies on a single-axis framework, where claims can be made on the basis of either race or sex but not both. Crenshaw (1991: 57) argued that this deprives black women of the possibility of seeking justice as black women.
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 9. Gendering Europeanization in the Enlarged Union

Abstract
Research on Europeanization has become a central aspect of studying the EU over the past decade. The increased focus on Europeanization reflects the different stages in the European integration theory. Whilst previous approaches were dominated by bottom-up theorizing and explored the flow of ideas and policies from member state level to EU level (see Chapter 2), currently the changes in the European polity, its growing powers and impact on the member states shift the focus to Europeanization. The shift has been facilitated by institutional developments in the EU where ECJ judgements and qualified majority voting may run counter to member state interests (Caporaso 2008: 25).
Johanna Kantola

Chapter 10. Conclusion

Abstract
Feminist studies of the European Union seek to make sense of a field that has become enormously complex. Gender equality has been an issue in the EU since the inclusion of Article 119 on equal pay in the Treaty of Rome 1957 but has since widened to the recognition of equality between women and men as a fundamental principle of democracy for the whole of the EU. Gender equality is present not only in gender-specific policies, such as women’s participation in the labour market, reconciliation of work and family, and political representation of women in parliaments, but it also informs the basic principles and functioning of the EU institutions wherever gender mainstreaming is implemented. Whilst a few decades ago it made sense to study which member state or EU institution initiated particular policy initiatives, such as the equal pay or equal treatment directives, the range of actors involved in gender policy-making has now widened, making this task ever more difficult. 27 member states also convey multiple meanings and understandings of women, men, gender and gender equality (see Verloo 2007).
Johanna Kantola
Additional information