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Washington State University
School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs Applications to Non-Western Countries

Workshop: “Does Research on State Feminism Travel? New Agendas for Studying Gender Equality Mechanisms Outside the West”

From the beginning the RNGS research project focused on postindustrial democracies in the West. At the same time, we have long been interested in exploring the ways the state feminism approach might be useful to scholars who are interested in studying women’s policy offices in transitional regimes. By collecting names of experts and others interested in this question, we waited for an opportunity to bring people together to discuss possibilities. Thanks to a tip from Melissa Haussman, we found the Women’s Worlds Conference in Ottawa in 2011 to be that long awaited opportunity. We offered a half day workshop that attracted 19 scholars and activists from 10 different countries. This group agreed to build a loose network, Going Global with State Feminism, to help regionally based groups pursue coordinated research on women’s policy agencies. The original workshop materials, the workshop report, and the working list of participants are available on this website. We had originally planned on making an application to the Rockefeller Foundation to hold a meeting of the new group in Bellagio Italy, with Amy and Amanda Gouws (Stellenbosch University-South Africa) and Dzodzi Tsikata (University of Ghana). But we have since put these projects on hold due to our work schedules. Of course, if anyone is interested in taking up the coordination of the network, please do not hesitate to contact Amy. The workshop materials, report from the workshop and the working list of the incipient network can be found in the section on documents and materials.

World Bank Report

The World Bank commissioned us to prepare a background paper on the design and effectiveness of gender equality mechanisms for the World Development Report in 2012, which was to have a significant gender component. The submitted paper focuses on how to take the RNGS findings and apply them to understanding women’s policy agencies outside the West. Part one presents the RNGS findings. It assesses the usefulness of the RNGS measurement tools for research in other countries along with a set of questions that must be considered in designing such a tool. This first part concludes with a list of conditions that, in various combinations, may lead to agency success and policy recommendations for designing gender machineries in the western democracies. The second part of the report makes a critical analysis of published work on gender machineries in developing countries. Based on a systematic inventory of the literature on these structures it aims to show the extent to which we have credible evidence to know if, how, and why gender machineries have been important and effective “…institutional channel[s] for gender policies and guidelines for the State”. The paper concludes with a presentation of policy recommendations that aim to promote a more systematic study of gender machinery performance. The paper served as an important foundation for the Ottawa Workshop and for our User’s Guide for practitioners. The report is also available on this website.