GENDER MAINSTREAMING AND THE BENCHMARKING FALLACY OF WOMEN IN POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING
Greek Review of Social Research
In this article the authors analyse the extent to which an explicitly gendered issue such as the position of wo/men in political decision-making has been approached from a gender mainstreaming perspective. They do so by exploring how the issue has been framed in three countries, the Netherlands, Spain, and Greece, and in the European Union. The analysis enables them both to provide a state of the art of how gender in political decision-making has been dealt with throughout the last decade in
... e last decade in the selected case-studies and to offer insights on the potential for a gender mainstreaming approach of topics in which sex-related inequality is explicit. The main argument is that such policy issues contain a benchmarking fallacy. The easiness with which they can be quantified opens the door for an analysis and solution of problems of gender inequality in terms of numbers, without tackling underlying structural problems. . We would like to thank our colleagues of the MAGEEQ team, particularly Ilse van Lamoen for providing the research material and for commenting on the Dutch case, Elin Peterson and Raquel Platero for their analysis of and comments on the Spanish texts, and Maria Filiopoulou for her contribution in the analysis of the Greek texts. 3. Meier 27-06-07 11:37 Σελίδα 36 http://epublishing.ekt.gr | e-Publisher: EKT | Downloaded at 19/07/2018 22:41:05 | WOMEN IN POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING same policy framework. Moreover, the comparison between two Mediterranean countries with important socio-political similarities but also differences, and a North European country with a longer tradition in gender policy, seemed fertile to us in view of our research target. A fourth case are EU policies, given the leading role the EU plays in this field, since it pays attention to both gender mainstreaming and the position of wo/men in (political) decision-making. 1995 is the starting point for our analysis because it is mainly the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing that put gender mainstreaming on the agenda. The aim consists in an overview of the framing of the issue, to see whether and where a gender mainstreaming approach is applied. The attempt to be exhaustive in the way the issue has been framed explains the broad range of texts (parliamentary debates, bills, government declarations, party programmes, press-articles) from a broad range of actors (government, parliament, parties). The definition of a gender mainstreaming approach is based on the 1996 communication of the European Commission, stating that it «involves not restricting efforts to promote equality to the implementation of specific measures to help women, but mobilising all general policies and measures specifically for the purpose of achieving equality by actively and openly taking into account at the planning stage their possible effects on the respective situation of men and women (gender perspective)». The Communication also states that the «promotion of equality must not be confused with the simple objective of balancing the statistics: it is a question of promoting long-lasting changes in parental roles, family structures, institutional practices, the organisation of work and time, their (women's) personal development and independence, but also concerns men and the whole of society (...)» (COM(96)67 final). 2 Two elements are of importance in these definitions. First, a gender mainstreaming approach focuses broader than on women. Second, a gender mainstreaming approach challenges traditional definitions of gender. While the 1996 communication of the European Commission mainly reads as solving problems in a larger setting, we assume that this also implies analysing the problem in a larger setting (see infra). We therefore describe a gender mainstreaming approach as a definition of the policy problem or solution in terms capable of transforming 37 2.