In the early 21st century increased attention was being paid to the role of parliaments and specialised parliamentary bodies in promoting gender equality or ‘gender mainstreaming’. Members of the research network are interested in how these relatively new parliamentary bodies came into being, critical actors involved, linkages with other agencies promoting gender equality and the engagement of women’s civil society organisations.
In the early 21st century increased attention was being paid to the role of parliaments and specialised parliamentary bodies in promoting gender equality or ‘gender mainstreaming’. Both the Inter-Parliamentary Union and individual scholars began publishing case studies and overviews of the work of gender-focused parliamentary bodies.
At the Third European Conference on Politics and Gender in Barcelona in 2013 Marian Sawer and Joan Grace convened a meeting to establish an international network linking researchers, co-ordinating research projects and promoting cumulative knowledge on the subject. The new network was called 'Gender-Focused Parliamentary Institutions Research Network' or GenParlNet.
Members of the research network are interested in how these relatively new parliamentary bodies came into being, critical actors involved, linkages with other agencies promoting gender equality and the engagement of women’s civil society organisations. Research includes identifying the characteristics of the different types of gender-focused parliamentary bodies, how they relate to different institutional contexts and how effective they are. Since 2013 GenParlNet has organised panels at three IPSA world congresses and two European Conferences on Politics and Gender (details under Events) and published a selection of these papers in Parliamentary Affairs.
The current convenors of GenParlNet are Josefina Erikson of Uppsala University and Tania Verge Mestre of the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. They have organised a panel 'Gendered working conditions in governing bodies' (co-sponsored by IPSA RC19) for the 2019 European Conference on Politics and Gender in Amsterdam and also a Roundtable on 'Feminist Engagement with Gender Reform in Parliaments'.
Mette Marie Staehr Harder's article 'Assessing the Impact of Parliamentary Design: The Case of the Danish Committee on Gender Equality' has just been published in Scandinavian Political Studies doi: 10.1111/1467-9477.12102
Marian Sawer's article 'Beyond Numbers: The Role of Specialised Parliamentary Bodies in Promoting Gender Equality' appeared in the autumn/winter 2015 Australasian Parliamentary Review 30(1): 105–122 .
The GenParlNet papers given at Uppsala in 2015 formed the basis of a special issue of Parliamentary Affairs entitled 'Representing Gender Equality in Parliament: Specialised Parliamentary Bodies'. The following articles were published in Advanced Access in March-April 2016:
- Introduction , Marian Sawer and Joan Grace
- Specialised Parliamentary Bodies: Their Role and Relevance to Women’s Movement Repertoire, Marian Sawer and Alicia Turner
- Specialised Parliamentary Bodies and the Quality of Women’s Substantive Representation: A Comparative Analysis of Belgium, United Kingdom and New Zealand, Karen Celis, Sarah Childs, Jennifer Curtin
- Presence and Purpose in the Canadian House of Commons: The Standing Committee on the Status of Women, Joan Grace
- Gender-focused institutions in international parliamentary bodies: The case of the women’s caucus of the Parliamentary Assembly of The Portuguese-speaking Countries Monica Costa
- The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament—Taking Advantage of Institutional Power Play , Petra Ahrens
- The Women’s Delegation in France: Making Women’s Voices Heard? , Manda Green
- Towards a Dual Approach: Comparing the Effects of Parliamentary Committees on Gender Equality in Denmark and Finland, Anne Maria Holli and Mette Marie Harder
- A New Way of Doing Politics? Cross-Party Women’s Caucuses as Critical Actors in Uganda and Uruguay , Niki Johnson and Cecilia Josefsson
Select publications by GenParlNet members
- Rai, Shirin and Carole Spary. 2018. Performing Representation: Women in the Indian Parliament. Oxford University Press.
- Ahrens, Petra. 2012. Wenn sich Nachteile als Vorteile erweisen: Der Ausschuss für die Rechte der Frau und die Gleichstellung der Geschlechter im Europäischen Parlament. femina politica, Vol 21 (2): 119-125. [The influence of the institutional setting in the European Parliament on the Comittee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality]
- Ahrens, Petra. 2011. Gender Equality Policy Networks in the European Union and the Utility of Qualitative Network Analysis. BGSS Working Paper Series. Berlin: Humboldt University.
- Archenti, Nélida and Niki Johnson. 2006. “Engendering the Legislative Agenda With or Without the Quota: A Comparative Study of Argentina and Uruguay”, Sociologia, Problemas E Práticas 52, 133-153.
- Ballington, Julie and Azza Karam, eds. 2005. Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (A Revised Edition). Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
- Bauer, Gretchen and Jennie Burnet. 2013. ‘Gender Quotas, Democracy and Women’s Representation in Africa: Some Insights from Democratic Botswana and Autocratic Rwanda.’, Women’s Studies International Forum, forthcoming. [This is one article in a special issue of WSIF to be published by the end of 2013, much of it already published online; papers come out of a workshop on Women’s Representation and Democracy in Africa held in Bergen June 2012]
- Bauer, Gretchen. 2012. '"Let There be a Balance": Women in African Parliaments', Political Studies Review 10(3), 370-384. [Overview/review of the literature to date on women’s substantive and symbolic representation effects in parliaments in Africa.]
- Bauer, Gretchen. 2010. '"Cows Will Lead the Herd into a Precipice": Where are the Women MPs in Botswana?', Botswana Notes and Records, 42, 56-70. [Article based on field research on why there are so few women MPs in Botswana when a model democracy and surrounded by many African countries with significant percentages of women in their parliaments.]
- Bauer, Gretchen. 2008. '"50/50 by 2020": Electoral Gender Quotas for Parliament in East and Southern Africa.', International Feminist Journal of Politics. 10(3): 348-368. [Compares two commonly used types of quotas in east and southern Africa.]
- Bauer, Gretchen and Hannah E. Britton, eds. 2006. Women in African Parliaments. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
- Bauer, Gretchen. 2004. ‘"The Hand that Stirs the Pot Can Also Run the Country": Electing Women to Parliament in Namibia’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 42(4), 479-509. [Early article based on field research that details ways in which so many women accessed parliament in Namibia, when Namibia still one of leaders on the African continent.]
- Celis, Karen, Sarah Childs, Johanna Kantola and Mona Lena Krook. 2008. “Rethinking Women’s Substantive Representation”, Representation 44(2), 99-110.
- Childs, Sarah. 2013. “Negotiating Gendered Institutions: Women’s Parliamentary Friendships”, Politics and Gender 9, 127-151.
- Childs, Sarah. 2006. “The House Turned Upside Down? The Difference Labour’s Women MPs Made”, in Marian Sawer, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds., Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge.
- Childs, Sarah and Mona Lena Krook. 2009. “Analysing Women’s Substantive Representation: From Critical Mass to Critical Actors”, Government and Opposition 44(2), 125-145.
- Chiva, Cristina. (forthcoming). Women's Representation in Politics in Post-Communist Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (manuscript due 31 December 2013, to be published in the Gender and Politics series). [a comparative study of women's representation in the legislatures and executives of post-communist Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, 1990-2012; please note that the title is subject to change]
- Chiva, Cristina. 2012. “Gender, European integration and candidate recruitment: the European Parliament elections in the new EU member states”, Parliamentary Affairs Advance Access, 30 August 2012. [women's representation in European elections in nine post-communist EU member states]
- Costa, Monica, Marian Sawer, Rhonda Sharp. 2012. ‘Women Acting for Women: Gender-Responsive Budgeting in Timor-Leste’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13 September. DOI:10.1080/14616742.2012.714119. Republished as ‘Mulheres em ação pelas mulheres: o caso das finanças públicas sensíveis a gênero de Timor-Leste’ in Márcia Larangeiro Jácome and Shirley Villela (eds), Orçamentos sensíveis a genêro: Experiências, Brasilia: Onu Mulheres, pp. 215–243. [role of Women’s Caucus of Timor Leste National Assembly]
- Curtin, Jennifer and Louise Chappell. 2013. “Does Federalism Matter? Evaluating State Architecture and Family and Domestic Violence Policies in Australia and New Zealand”, Publius: The Journal of Federalism 43(1), 24-43.
- Curtin, Jennifer and Katherine Teghtsoonian. 2010. “Analysing Institutional Persistence: The Case of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Aotearoa/NewZealand”, Politics and Gender 6(4), 545-572.
- Curtin, Jennifer. 2008. “Women, Political Leadership and Substantive Representation: The Case of New Zealand”, Parliamentary Affairs 61(3), 490-504.
- Freidenvall, Lenita and Mona Lena Krook. 2011. “Discursive Strategies for Institutional Reform: Gender Quotas in Sweden and France” in Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay, eds., Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Freidenvall. Lenita. 2006. “Quotas as a “Fast Track” to Equal Political Representation for Women: Why Scandinavia is No Longer the Model”, International Feminist Journal of Politics 7(1), 26-48.
- Grace, Joan. 2011. “Gender and Institutions of Multi-Level Governance: Child Care and Social Policy Debates in Canada” in Mona Lena Krook and Fiona Mackay, eds., Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [an analysis of the gender implications and outcomes of Canadian federalism]
- Green, Manda. 2004. “Safe space et representation substantive: le cas des délégations aux droits des femmes et à l’égalité des chances”, Raisons politiques 15, 97-110.
- Heath, Roseanna Michelle, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer and Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson. 2005. “Women on the Sidelines: Women’s Representation on Committees in Latin American Legislatures”, American Journal of Political Science (49)2, 420-436.
- Holli, Anne Maria. 2012. “Does Gender Have an Effect on the Selection of Experts by Parliamentary Standing Committees?”, Politics & Gender 8, 341-366.
- Krook Mona Lena and Fiona Mackay. 2011. Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Kuusipalo, Jaana. 2006. “Women as Politicians, Politicians as Women: Gender-based Politics in Finland” in Anna Moring, ed., Politics of Gender: A Century of Women’s Suffrage in Finland. Helsinki: Otava.
- Mackay, Fiona and Laura McAllister. 2012. “Feminizing British Politics: Six Lessons from Devolution in Scotland and Wales”, The Political Quarterly 83(4), 730-734.
- Palmieri, Sonia. 2013. A comparative study of structures for women MPs in the OSCE region, OSCE ODIHR, Warsaw. [A study of women’s caucuses and other parliamentary groups in member parliaments of the OSCE, considering their organisation, activities and relationships.]
- Palmieri, Sonia. 2013. “Sympathetic advocates: male parliamentarians sharing responsibility for gender equality” Gender and Development, Vol. 21, No. 1, March, pp 67-80. [The article presents strategies to encourage men parliamentarians to engage in gender equality issues.]
- Palmieri, Sonia. 2011. Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union. [Quantitative and qualitative data is used to assess parliaments’ gender sensitivity, defined as a parliament’s responsiveness to the needs and interests of both men and women in its structures, operations, methods and work.]
- Palmieri, Sonia.. 2010. “Gender mainstreaming in the Australian Parliament: Achievement with room for improvement”, Parliamentary Studies Centre, ANU, Canberra, available at: http://www.parliamentarystudies.anu.edu.au/pdf/publications/2011/Gender_Mainstreaming_in_the_Australian_Parliament.pdf [Considers the extent to which the Australian Parliament has implemented gender mainstreaming practices.]
- Palmieri, Sonia and Kareen Jabre. 2005. “Promoting Partnership between Men and Women in Parliament: The Experience of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.” Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (A Revised Edition). Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
- Palmieri, Sonia.. 2005. “Ten Years in Review: Trends of Women in Parliament Worldwide” in Women In Politics: 1945 – 2005 (Information Kit), Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva.
- Piscopo, Jennifer. 2011. “Rethinking Descriptive Representation: Rendering Women in Legislative Debates”, Parliamentary Affairs 64(3), 448-472.
- Rai, Shirin and Rachel E Johnson (eds) Introducing Democracy in Practice: Ceremony and Ritual in the Indian Parliament, Palgrave Macmillan 2014.
- Sawer, Marian. 2015. 'Beyond Numbers: The Role of Specialised Parliamentary Bodies in Promoting Gender Equality' in the autumn/ winter 2015 Australasian Parliamentary Review.
- Sawer, Marian. 2012. “What Makes the Substantive Representation of Women Possible in a Westminster Parliament? The Story of RU486 in Australia”, International Political Science Review 33(3), 320-335. [role of Parliamentary Group on Population and Development]
- Sawer, Marian, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds. 2006. Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge. [includes Marian Sawer on role of Australian EMILY’s List in promoting substantive representation of women in parliament and Linda Trimble on the Women’s Caucus of the Canadian Liberal Party]
- Spary, Carole. 2010. “Performing Ethno-Linguistic Representation: A Study of Indian Parliamentary Ceremony and Ritual”, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 16(3), 311-336.
- Spary, Carole. 2010. “Disrupting Rituals of Debate in the Indian Parliament”, Journal of Legislative Studies 16(3), 338-351.
- Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M. and Ashley Ross. 2011. “Can Formal Rules of Order be Used as a Proxy for Behaviour Internal to a Legislature? Evidence from Costa Rica”, Journal of Legislative Studies 17(4), 479-500.
- Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M. and Roseanna Michelle Heath. 2003. “Do Female Legislators Have Different Policy Priorities Than Their Male Colleagues? A Critical Case Test”, Women and Politics 24(4), 77-100.
Other select publications on women, gender and legislative institutions
- Barnes, Andre. 2012. Gender-Sensitive Parliament: 1. Advancements in the Workplace. Ottawa: Library of Parliament.
- Chaney, Paul. 2012. “Critical Actors vs. Critical Mass: The Substantive Representation of Women in the Scottish Parliament”, The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (14), 441-457.
- Darcy, Robert. 1996. “Women in State Legislative Power Structures: Committee Chairs”, Social Science Quarterly 77(4), 888-898.
- Friedman, Sally. 1996. “House Committee Assignments of Women and Minority Newcomers, 1965-1994”, Legislative Studies Quarterly 21(91), 73-81.
- Frisch, Scott A. and Sean Q. Kelly. 2003. “A Place at the Table: Women’s Committee Requests and Women’s Committee Assignments in the U.S. House”, Women and Politics 25(3), 1-26.
- Haussman, Melissa, Marian Sawer and Jill Vickers. 2010. Federalism, Feminism and Multilevel Governance. Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
- Kenny, Sally J.. 1996. “New Research on Gendered Political Institutions”, Political Research Quarterly 49, 445-466.
- Leston-Bandeira, Cristina. 2012. “Studying the Relationship between Parliament and Citizens”, The Journal of Legislative Studies, (18)3-4, 265-274.
- Lovenduski, Joni and Pippa Norris. 2003. “Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence”, Political Studies 51, 84-102.
- Mackay, Fiona. 2008.”’Thick’ Conceptions of Substantive Representation: Women, Gender and Political Institutions”, Representation (44)2, 125-139.
- Mackay, Fiona. 2006. “Descriptive and Substantive Representation in New Parliamentary Spaces: The Case of Scotland” in Marian Sawer, Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble, eds., Representing Women in Parliament: A Comparative Study. London: Routledge.
- Monk, David. 2012. “Committee Inquiries in the Australian Parliament and their Influence on Government: Government Acceptance of Recommendations as Measure of Parliamentary Influence”, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(2), 137-160.
- O’Brien, Diana Z.. 2012. “Gender and Select Committee Elections in the British House of Commons”, Politics & Gender 8, 178-204.
- Rosenthal, Cindy Simon. 2001. “Gender Styles in State Legislative Committees”, Women & Politics 21(2), 21-45.
- Ross, Karen. 2002. “Women’s Place in “Male” Space: Gender and Effect in Parliamentary Contexts”, Parliamentary Affairs 55(1), 189-194.
- Tremblay, Manon. 2003. “Women’s Representational Role in Australia and Canada: The Impact of Political Context”, Australian Journal of Political Science 38(2), 215-238.
- Tremblay, Manon. 1998. “Do Female MPs Substantively Represent Women? A Study of the Legislative Behaviour in Canada’s 35th Parliament”, Canadian Journal of Political Science 31(3), 435-465.
- Norris, Pippa. 1996. “Women Politicians: Transforming Westminster”?, Parliamentary Affairs, 49(1), 89-102.
- Weldon, Laura. 2002. “Beyond Bodies: Institutional Sources of Representation for Women in Democratic Policymaking”, Journal of Politics 64(4), 1153-1174.
- Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2012. Global Parliamentary Report – The Changing Nature of Representation.
- Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2011. Gender Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice.
- Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). 2006. The Role of Parliamentary Committees in Mainstreaming Gender and Promoting the Status of Women.
- United Nations Development Program (UNDP). March 2010. Benchmarks and Self-Assessment Frameworks for Democratic Legislatures.
Gender, party politics and democracy in Europe
The research project 'Gender, party politics and democracy in Europe: A study of European Parliament’s party groups' (EUGenDem) began on 1 August 2018.
The five-year (2018-2023) research project is funded by European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant (PI Professor Johanna Kantola). It is located in Gender Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland. Dr Anna Elomäki and Dr Petra Ahrens are the Senior Researchers in the project, Dr Cherry Miller a Postdoctoral Researcher and Valentine Berthet a Dissertation Researcher.
EUGenDem provides a systematic analysis of the gendered policies and practices of European party politics. The research comprises a comparative study of the European Parliament’s (EP) party groups and generates empirical findings about the significance of gender in the current party political transformations in Europe. Available here.
New case studies
Two new case studies of interest to GenParlNet members have just been published as part of the Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project at the Australian National University.
- By focusing on the contribution of feminist scholarship to the understanding of parliament as a gendered workplace, this case study explores the debates and policy reforms that can make parliament a more ‘attractive’ career option for women. » read more
- Feminist scholarship has highlighted the need to adopt broader definitions of ‘violence,’ as well as to recognise that the motives and means of political violence may be deeply gendered. » read more
Mandates of gender equality committees in the parliaments of OECD countries
The OECD has released comparative data on the mandates of gender equality committees in the parliaments of OECD countries: available here.
Only four have a mandate to examine all (rather than selected) draft laws from a gender equality perspective. Needless to say, one of these is Sweden.
Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament has just been published by GenParlNet members Shirin Rai and Carole Spary. Here's what Pippa Norris had to say about it: 'This terrific new study provides fresh insights into issues of representation and representativeness, gender and power, and the role of women in parliament – both within India and more broadly. Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative evidence, this book provides an essential contribution towards the literature on women in politics'.
Read what the authors themselves say about the book and the narratives framing the issue of representativeness in the Indian parliament here.
News from GenParlNet member, Sarah Childs
The Women in Parliament All Party Parliamentary Group of the UK House of Commons published its report, 'Improving Parliament' in late spring 2015. This was the result of a formal inquiry that took evidence from MPs, ex-MPs and academics. Professor Sarah Childs (University of Bristol ) was its specialist advisor. One of its key recommendations: the establishment of Women's Select Committee. This would bring it into line with more than 30 other countries and would fulfil one dimension of the Inter Parliamentary Union's Gender Sensitive Parliaments framework. Just after the General Election a Women and Equalities Committee was established, chaired by the Conservative ex Minister, Maria Miller. Its membership is overwhelmingly female, with just one male member; many of its members are also newly elected to the House. It's first inquiry is currently underway, investigating transgender equality.
|Lenita Freidenvall||University of Stockholm, Sweden|
|Jennifer Piscopo||Occidental College, USA|
|Petra Ahrens||Humboldt University, Germany|
|Noa Balf||University of Maryland, USA|
|Julie Ballington||United Nations Development Program|
|Karen Celis||Vriji Universiteit Brussel, Belgium|
|Sarah Childs||University of Bristol, UK|
|Cristina Chiva||University of Salford, UK|
|Monica Costa||University of South Australia|
|Jennifer Curtin||University of Auckland, NZ|
|Fernanda Argolo Dantas||Universidade Federale da Bahia, Brazil|
|Hanane Darhour||Université Ibnou Zohr, Morocco|
|Arantxa Elizondo||Universidad del Pais Vasco, Spain|
|Josefina Erikson||Uppsala University, Sweden|
|Ginger Feather||University of Kansas, USA|
|Lenita Freidenvall||Stockholm University, Sweden|
|Yvonne Galligan||Queen's University Belfast, Ireland|
|Barbara Gaweda||University of Edinburgh, UK|
|Joan Grace||University of Winnipeg, Canada|
|Manda Green||Université Lumiè Lyon 2, France|
|Mette Marie Harder||University of Roskilde, Denmark|
|Anne Maria Holli||University of Helsinki, Finland|
|Mirya Holman||Tulane University, USA|
|Shu-Ling Hwang||National Defence Medical Centre, Taipei, Taiwan|
|Kareen Jabre||Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland|
|Yaiza Janssens||Ghent University, Belgium|
|Nino Javakhishvili||Ilia State University, Georgia|
|Niki Johnson||Universidad de la República, Uruguay|
|Cecilia Josefsson||Uppsala University, Sweden|
|Mona Lena Krook||Rutgers University, USA|
|Jaana Kuusipalo||Tampere University of Technology, Finland|
|Anna Mitchel Mahoney||Tulane University, USA|
|Laura McAllister||University of Liverpool, UK|
|Elisabeth Mége-Revil||Université Lille 3, France|
|Petra Meier||University of Antwerp, Belgium|
|Sonia Palmieri||Parliament of Australia|
|Jennifer Piscopo||Salem College, North Carolina, USA|
|Shirin Rai||University of Warwick, UK|
|Marian Sawer||Australian National University, Australia|
|Carole Spary||University of York, UK|
|Michelle Taylor-Robinson||Texas A&M University, USA|
|Alicia Turner||Parliament of Australia|