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Societies in Transition - Challenges to

Women's and Gender Studies

Studien interdisziplinäre

Band 4
Heike FleßnerlLydia Potts (eds)

Societies in Transition -
Challenges to Women' s
and Gender Studies

Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2002

Gedruckt auf säurefreiem und alterungsbeständigem Papier.
Die Deutsche Bibliothek - CIP-Einheitsaufnahrne

ISBN 978-3-8100-3529-5 ISBN 978-3-663-11375-1 (eBook)

DOI 10.1007/978-3-663-11375-1

© 2002 Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden

Ursprünglich erschienen bei Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2002

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Heike Fleßner/Lydia Potts

Introduction.......................................... .................................................. 9

I. Focus: Global Perspectives

Gabriele Griffin
Co-option or Transformation?
Women's and Gender Studies Worldwide............................................. 13

Victoria Grace
From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies:
Challenges to Gender Studies at the University of Canterbury,
New Zealand .......................................................................................... 33

11. Focus: Europe (I) - Germany

Silke Wenk
Women's and Gender Studies in German Higher Education................. 43

Sigrid Metz-Gäckel
Women's and Gender Studies in Germany-
Strategies for Internationalization ........ .................................................. 51

111. Focus: Europe (11) - Eastern Europe

Susan Zimmermann
Women's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective:
Developing the Frame............................................................................ 61

Bozena Choluj
Gender Studies in Warsaw ......... ........ .......... ..... ......... ................... ......... 79
6 Contents

IV. Focus: Europe (111) - European Union and Nongovernrnental


Susanne Schunter-Kleemann
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project of
Supranational Government .................................................................... 83

Kinga Lohmann
Strategies and Demands of Women' s NGOs from Central and Eastern
Europe in the Beijing +5 and the European Union Enlargement
Process ................................................................................................... 99

V. Focus: Middle East - Yernen, Jordan and Turkey

Rashida A. Al-Hamdani
The Transition in the Situation of Wornen in Yemen ............................ 107

Rokhsana M. Ismail
New Perspectives and Challenges for Women's Studies at Aden
University, yemen................................................................................. 119

Josi Salem- Pickartz

Women's Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks.............................. 129

Yasmin Haddad
The Women's Studies Program at the University of Jordan:
Current Status and Prospects for the Future........................................... 141

Gamze Ege
Turkish Women's Studies: The METU Gender and
Women's Studies Graduate Program Experience .................................. 147

VI. Focus: India and Nepal

Savita Singal
Gender Issues in Haryana and at CCS Haryana Agricultural
University, India .................................................................................... 159

Puspa Ghimire-Niraula
Women's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan
University, Kathmandu, Nepal .............................................................. 169
Contents 7

Ira Acharya
Strategies of Women' s Empowerment:
Women's Micro Enterprises in NepaL.................................................. 181

VII. Focus: Republic of South Africa

Sheila Meintjes
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming
for Gender Studies in South Africa........................................................ 193

Samiera ZaJar
Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address the Impact
of HIV/AIDS on Women at W ork and Girl Learners
at Public Schools in South Africa? ........................................................ 207

VIII. ConcIusions

Anne Phillips
Which Equalities Matter? Or Even: Does Equality Matter? .................. 219

Contributors ........................................................................................... 229


Currently, women' sand gen der studies programs exist in many countries
around the world. It is a crucial task for the future of this still emerging disci-
pline to enhance international communication and cooperation between study
programs, students, scholars, activists, and professionals. If we consider the
ideals and concepts of "emancipation" and "participation" as core principles
of women' sand gen der studies, then our global networking requires system-
atic inclusion of non-western perspectives at all levels of research, teaching,
and curriculum development.
The international conference "Societies in Transition - Challenges to
Women's and Gender Studies," held at Carl von Ossietzky Universität
Oldenburg, Germany, from June 28 through July 1,2001, was intended as a
step in this direction, bringing together speakers - all represented in this book
- from a variety of countries: Poland and Hungary, Great Britain and New
Zealand, India and Nepal, South Africa, Jordan, Turkey and Yemen.
Although this list might at first appear arbitrary, its composition was both
carefully and intentionally constructed. As organizers, we knew that a com-
paratively sm all conference could not entertain a fully inclusive representa-
tion of women's and gender studies programs worldwide. So, we specifically
issued invitations to speakers with the following criteria in mind: we wanted
to achieve diversity and variety; we wanted to include countries often consid-
ered peripheral; we wanted to involve programs from countries with dynamic
societal developments; and, last but not least, we wanted to invite speakers
with whom we already had existing contacts as weIl as those with whom
ongoing cooperation looked promising.
The speakers were asked to present inside perspectives on their women's
and gender studies programs in terms of content and curricula, teaching
methods, and aims. We also asked them to analyze and discuss how societal
transitions can and do influence the emergence and further development of
such programs. The papers were delivered by scholars representing women
and gen der studies programs and also by professionals and activists whose
work focuses on women and gender.
The critical questions to be discussed were:
10 lntroduction
What is the societal significance and impact of women' sand gen der
studies in different countries and different regions of the world? How do we
recognize differences and commonalities of the development of this field of
study on an international scale? And, how does the specificity of programs
reflect academic politics as weil as gen der politics in general?
What can new forms of international networking and cooperation in the
fields of research and academic instruction look like?
Ultimately, the conference aimed at investigating these questions and de-
veloping possibilities for transnational cooperative initiatives and projects,
primarily those involving women's and gender studies programs.
In 1993, the University of Oldenburg hosted the international conference
"Women' s Studies im internationalen Vergleich" ("International Perspectives
of Women' s Studies"). It was the very first conference dealing with this topic
in Germany. At that time, we focused on familiarizing ourselves with and
learning from women's studies programs at some of our partner universities
(e.g. in the US and the Netherlands) and on bringing together and discussing
different attempts to institutionalize women studies curricula and programs at
different levels of German higher education. 1
With this 2001 conference, our intention was to both continue and go be-
yond the original initiative. Since the conference in 1993, not only has
Oldenburg University (in 1997) inaugurated two interdisciplinary women' s
and gender studies programs 2 , but the university has also (at the beginning of
2001) officially launched the Center of Interdisciplinary Research on Women
and Gender. Several other German institutions of higher education have also
started their own women's and gender studies programs while still others are
currently planning to do so in the near future. In addition, the International
Women's University in Hannover, as part of the World Exhibition 2000 in
HannoverlLower Saxony, Germany, enjoyed great success. We wished to
continue the momentum established by these previous events with this con-
ference, stressing the importance of co operative efforts between academics
and activists from all over the world and welcoming speakers and partici-
pants from the East and the South in particular.
The way in which we have arranged this volume's table of contents
c10sely follows the agenda of the conference itself. The opening section is on
global perspectives with an overview on women's and gen der studies world-
wide (Gabriele Griffin) followed by a case study of the University of Canter-
bury, New Zealand that reflects global processes (Victoria Grace). Because
the conference took place in Germany, the focus then shifts to a critical look

See conference documentation: Heike Fleßner, Marianne Kriszio, Rita Kurth, Lydia Potts
(Hg.): Women's Studies im internationalen Vergleich. Pfaffenweiler 1994.
2 "Women's and Gender Studies"j "Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien", a minor as part of the
Magister-Studium, and "Cultural Gender Studies"j "Kulturwissenschaftliche Geschlechter-
studien" as a postgraduate program.
Introduction ll

at women's and gender studies in German universities (Silke Wenk) followed

by a consideration of strategies for internationalization (Sigrid Metz-Gäckel).
In an effort to bridge the East-West-divide in Europe, the next section looks
at women's studies programs in Eastern Europe (Susan Zimmermann at
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, and Bozena Choluj at War-
saw University, Poland). As all women's studies programs are reflecting
societal processes - both intluencing them and being influenced by them -
the European dimension is then discussed in the following section with an
essay on the European Union (EU) as a masculine project of supranational
government (Susanne Schunter-Kleemann) followed by a discussion of
strategies of women's NGOs from Central and Eastern Europe in the
Beijing+5 process and the EU's enlargement process (Kinga Lohmann).
The lively debates in, around, and about women's studies programs in
the Middle East are presented in the following section, wh ich starts with a
paper on transitions in the situation of women in Yemen (Rashida Al-Ham-
dani) and is then followed by an account of the women's center at Aden
University, Yemen (Rokhsana M. Ismail). Josi Salem-Pickartz and Yasmin
Haddad provide the equivalents for Jordan and the Women's Studies Pro-
gram at the University of Jordan. The final paper in this section, by Gamze
Ege, discusses the Gender and Women' s Studies Graduate Program at the
Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
The focus then turns to Nepal and India. In their papers, Ira Acharya and
Savita Singal both chronicIe the burdened lives of girls and women in their
respective countries while cIosely connecting women's studies programs with
strategies for empowering women. Singal and Puspa Ghimire-Niraula further
discuss how these academic programs in their socio-economic contexts
clearly aim at educating women as agents of social change.
The COfe point of reference next shifts, in the papers of Sheila Meintjes
and Samiera Zafar, to the process of democratic transition in South Africa
and how it reflects gender politics and gender relations. Meintjes discusses
the contradictory process of implementing gender perspectives in the acad-
emy, highlighting the challenges and the strategies of feminist academics in
this process. Zafar then examines the key policies, legislation, and programs
fighting HIV/AIDS through a gender lens, concentrating on the vulnerability
of school-aged girls in particular.
Anne Phillips' paper concludes the book by leading us back to one of the
fundamental questions of women' s movements worldwide: "Which equalities
matter? Or even: does equality matter?" The lively and constructive debates
at the conference, which crossed national and ethnic boundaries and covered
a wide variety of disciplines, demonstrated once again that while this
question remains unsettled, the search for answers is ongoing. Inevitably, it is
our hope that both the conference and this book will contribute to fruitful
transnational alliances between women of the South, North, East, and West.
12 Introduction

Finally, we would like to thank the funding institutions 3 for their consid-
erable support in making the conference and this book possible. In particular,
we would like to thank Christine Stearns Potts on whose competent and me-
ticulous contributions we depended during the editing process.

Heike Fleßner, Lydia Potts Oldenburg, Germany, July 2002

3 Generous contributions came from: Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und

Kultur, Bund demokratischer WissenschaftIerinnen und Wissenschaftler (BdWi) and Ge-
werkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) Oldenburg. Various institutions within the
university also supported the conference, not only financially: Magisterstudiengang Frauen-
und Geschlechterstudien, Frauengleichstellungsstelle, AG Frauenförderung des Fachbe-
reichs 3, Institut für Bildung und Kommunikation in Migrationsprozessen (lBKM) and In-
stitut für Politikwissenschaft 11.
Gabriele Griffin

Co-option or Transformation? Women's and Gender

Studies Worldwide


The establishment of women's or gen der studies l as a worldwide phenome-

non in higher education - worldwide phenomenon here meaning that many
countries around the world have women's or gender studies programs in
higher education2 - took shape from the 1970s onwards. Often thought of as
western,3 it is worth noting that whilst the Department of Feminist Studies at
Odense University in Denmark was established in 1981, for example, and
women's studies at the Australian National University began in 1976, the
Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World in Lebanon was actually
founded in 1973.4 The point is that the institutionalization of women' s studies
in higher education has occurred over aperiod of some thirty years, but its
geochronology is not as straightforward as we might think. The politics of
location was and remains critical here. In general, it is the case that women's

There have been extended debates in the English-speaking world eoneeming the use of
women 's as opposed to gender studies. I shall not rehearse the arguments here (see instead
Evans) or engage with the issues of terminology arising from these but shall throughout use
women 's rather than gender studies as my preferred term sinee - in my view - gender stud-
ies worldwide is still basieally women '05 studies, meaning that the emphasis, as evideneed in
the taught programs around the world, is on women, and I eontinue to think that the persis-
tent struetural inequalities between women and men at all levels of existenee warrant a fo-
eus on women.
2 There are a number of directories and Internet sources which list women's and gender
studies programs at loeal, regional, and global levels. They include GRACE (the European
Women's Studies Databank), the 1995 SIGMA report on Women's Studies, the Interna-
tional Handbook of Women's Studies, ed. Loulou Brown et al; and sites such as by the Sisterhood is Global Institute, or http://research.umbc.eduJ
-korenmanlwmstl programs.html.
3 Alexander and Mohanty (1997) artieulate a powerful eritique of "feminism" as a eoncept
that foregrounds "the liberal-plural ist understanding of feminism, an inheritance of the pre-
dominantly liberal roots of American feminist praxis" (xvi) and of"international feminism"
as "almost always [originating] in the West" (xviii), a situation whieh they view as at the
root of the marginalization and "othering" of Third World women and' women of colour
within feminist theorizing and practice.
4 This institute is, of course, part of the American University in Beimt, and, one might argue,
the early establishment of women's studies there was related to that alliance with America
where women's studies was institutionalized equally early.
14 Gabriele GrifJin

studies was established as an institutionalized subject in higher education in

western countries, in particular during the 1980s, and that the institutionali-
zation of women's studies in Eastern European countries and in Africa, for
example, was more a phenomenon of the late 1980s and the 1990s, associated
respectively with the end of communism, on the one hand, and the rise of
self-determination and nationalism in the so-called post-colonial countries,
on the other. Thus, the Ahfad University for Women's Studies Unit in the
Sudan was established in 1989; the Moscow Center for Gender Studies was
founded in 1990; the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere
University in Uganda in 1991; the Center for Gender and Development
Studies in the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, in 1993; the Gender
and Women's Studies graduate pro gram of the Middle East Technical Uni-
versity in Turkey was set up in 1994; the Kharkov Center for Gender Studies
in the Ukraine in 1994; and the first graduate program in Women's Studies in
Japan at Josai International University in 1996. Women's studies in higher
education has, thus, proliferated from being found predominantly in western
countries to becoming institutionalized in Eastern European, African, and
Asian countries. And certainly during the early to mid-1990s, the subject
enjoyed a hitherto unprecedented growth worldwide.

How Global Is Sisterhood?

If one correlates this geochronology with educational and research content

with the curricula that the programs offer and the research projects they un-
dertake, it becomes evident that on one level sisterhood is global, but on
another it is intensely local and regional. The globality of sisterhood is made
evident whenever we read world statistics such as those published by the
United Nations or by the World Bank (WISTAT). On their website, the Sis-
terhood is Global Institute in Montreal, Canada, for instance, regularly repro-
duces certain statistics that are selected to highlight areas of concern for and
about women. Grouped together under headings such as "Women and Vio-
lence," "Women and Work," "Women and Education," "Women, Health and
Family," and "Women and Money," these statistics in many ways replicate
the kinds of titles that courses within women's studies had when they first
became institutionalized and continue to have to this day. The focus of these
statistics on what are some of the most important issues for women the world
over, issues such as women and the economy, women in education, women's
health, etc., reinforce the notion of the globality of sisterhood. At the same
time, the statistics as figures both coalesce and disaggregate the world's
women into various forms of affliction, suggesting simultaneously that
women's deprivation, exc1usion, and degradation is universal and that this
Co-option or Transformation? 15

takes particular and localized forms. If we look at the statistics on "Women

and Violence" for instance, both general pronouncements, such as "Every
day 6,000 girls are genitally mutilated," and country- or continent-specific
statements, like "In Russia, half of all murder victims are women killed by
their male partners," are made. These geo-specific statements may articulate
a country-specific problem; they may be intended to speak to specific
audiences about their own or another' s country; or they may simply "other"
the problem, so that the 5,000 brides who are murdered or commit suicide
because their marriage dowries are considered inadequate are an issue for
India rather than for the rest of the world. Horrifying as these statistics are,
taken altogether they serve to indicate the structural inequalities that position
women as victims: as deprived of agency and subjecthood, as vulnerable and
unaccounted for in the public sphere, and as second-class citizens of the
world. Sisterhood is here constructed as global in its suffering and in its
oppression, which may take different forms in diverse locations but is
universal in its gender specificity - that is the penultimate message of these
However, the implication of a universally subjugated sisterhood as mani-
festing an "even spread" of this victimization, which global statistics invite
with statements such as "Seventy percent of the world's illiterates are
women," is, as we all know, misplaced, and questions need to be asked about
where and under what circumstances such illiteracy, for example, occurs. 5 It
is at this point that differences among women become apparent. In Robin
Morgan' s wonderful and illuminating volume Sisterhood is Global of 1984,
the demographic information about Australia, for example, was divided at
certain points into information about Euroaustralians and Aborigines. The
literacy rate among women was declared to be one hundred percent, but with
the bracketed postfix "(Euroaustralian)." The literacy rate among Aborigine
women was thus revealed as unknown but simultaneously established as
different from that of Euroaustralian women. Inequality, then, is not evenly
spread; global statistics on women may index common areas of concern we
as women have, but they also, more importantly, frequently mask the differ-
ences in circumstance under wh ich women exist.

5 This is, of course, one of the great lessons of the debates arnong wornen during the late
1970s and the 1980s concerning an acknowledgrnent of differences arnong wornen rather
than succurnbing to a false universalization of wornen's conditions under patriarchy. This
debate was spearheaded, in the US and the UK, by so-called "wornen of colour" and by
lesbians, as weil as by wornen of working-c1ass background who feit thernselves to be ex-
c1uded frorn the feminine rnystique analysed by writers such as BeUy Friedan who were
viewed as espousing a white, western, middle-c1ass position regarding wornen and project-
ing that standpoint as representative of universal wornanhood.
16 Gabriele Grifjin

Institutionalizing Women's Studies

These differences to some extent shape the curricula and research projects of
women's studies programs in universities around the world today, but only to
some extent. When one reads the details of women's or gender studies curric-
ula from institutions around the world, it is surprising to note the degree of
surface similarity across them. Thus, gender research methodologies, women
and change, gen der and development, women, family, and society, indeed,
women and culture are commonly taught from the Sudan to the Asian Insti-
tute of Technology to Women' s Studies courses in the UK.
However, that surface similarity, which also suggests a certain globaliza-
tion of knowledge, obscures the specificities of the very real differences that
exist among programs and the politics of knowledge production and dissemi-
nation that underlie these. These differences are impossible to enumerate
here, but for every country they are the result of factors such as the country's
political history , its educational history and intellectual traditions, its infra-
structural bases and the politics of those bases, its geographical location, and
its international positioning.
Let me put so me detail on these factors. It is noticeable, for example, that
in many Protestant countries in Europe with no recent history of fascism,
women' s studies evolved from disciplines such as sociology and the arts.
Thus, in the UK, for instance, an important site for the beginnings of institu-
tionalized women's studies was the 1974 British Sociological Association
Conference on Sexual Divisions, where women at the meeting organized a
separate women's caucus, fiercely debating whether or not women's studies
should become aseparate discipline within universities or should remain an
extra-mural and autonomous critique of patriarchal structures and institutions
such as universities. This debate, involving many - though not exc1usively -
women who had a history of involvement in left-wing socialist politics, re-
sulted in optional women's studies courses for final-year undergraduate stu-
dents of sociology beginning in 1974-75. In contrast to this root of women's
studies in sociology and the arts in the UK, mirrored in some respects in a
similar location of women's studies in the Scandinavian countries,
institutionalized women's studies in many Mediterranean countries, such as
Spain, Portugal and Italy (Catholic countries with recent histories of fascism,
and/or right-wing and/or military dictatorships), emerged from the discipline
of history, possibly because these countries have recently had to re-write their
histories, and history as a discipline thus constitutes a site of radicalism. In
several East European countries, such as Slovenia, the Ukraine, etc., one of
the key disciplines for the emergence of institutionalized women's studies
has been philosophy, a discipline very much marginalized within women's
studies as it occurs in African countries or, for that matter, in the UK. In all
these instances, the political and socio-cultural history of the country plays a
Co-option or Transformation? 17

vital role in determining the disciplinary base from which Women's Studies
has emerged and the particular emphases on its curricula project.
AdditionaIly, if one compares the Scandinavian, Benelux, and Mediter-
ranean countries in terms of the extent to which women's studies is institu-
tionalized, it becomes clear that the so-called liberal democratic states are
more likely to support women's studies as part of their equality agendas than
are the more overtly patriarchal states that operate systems of patronage in
hierarchized structures based on preferment rather than merit. To become a
professor in Italy, for instance, you have to sit a public exam, but you cannot
self-nominate to sit that exam; you have to be nominated - an easy way to
bypass academics whose focus does not support hegemonic disciplines and
positions. It is no wonder then that feminism and the women's movement in
Italy have only just begun to become institutionalized within the academy
and that most of the feminist work there has been carried out outside higher
education institutions. 6
The degrees of institutionalization of women's studies around the world
are, thus, quite variable and not as determined as one might imagine by how
advanced or economically privileged individual countries might be. Delhi,
for instance, has a long-standing, well-established women's studies centre,
whereas in Japan women's studies is a comparatively recent phenomenon. In
Portugal, the only women's studies degree is two years old and run by the.
Portuguese Open University. And whilst one might argue that short lecture
courses or modules on feminist topics as weIl as feminist research in general
have proliferated in European universities, the ability to convert this activity
into free-standing, financially supported degrees and departments has been
very limited indeed. In the UK, which is one of the countries with a very high
level of institutionalization of women's studies, meaning, for example, that
most universities offer degrees in the subject, the Higher Education Funding
Council has not recognized women' s studies as a discipline with the conse-
quence that for public assessment and funding purposes, the subject does not
exist. Since no income stream, as it is called, is directly associated with
women's studies, universities have very liule incentive to support women's
studies degrees. Few staff members are appointed who work solely in
women's studies. 7 In consequence, promotion is virtually impossible, and
through the years we have, in fact, seen a decline in the subject. There are

6 It has to be noted, of course, that systems of promotion through preferment in universities

such as described here are not the only reasons why women's studies has not been institu-
tionalized to the same degree in Italy as in the Netherlands and the UK, for instance. For a
further discussion, see Sapegno in Oriffin and Braidotti (2002), and Bono and Kemp
7 This is, in fact, agiobai phenomenon. Most programs worldwide specify the particular
disciplinary bases from which their staff are drawn and, in the case of graduate programs,
detail the traditional disciplinary background, such as socia! sciences, required of students
wanting to attend.
18 Gabriele Grifjin

now fewer professors of women' sorgender studies in the UK than there

were even in the mid-1990s; the only named department, at Roehampton, is
seeing out its last students; courses are closing down; and student numbers
are decreasing. 8 Women's studies in the UK as a taught subject - rather than
as a research basis - is in a crisis, and one could argue with Audre Lorde that
the master' s tools have failed to dismantle the master' s house, that academe
has failed to be transformed by the institutionalization of women's studies. 9
At the same time, it is doubtless the case that more feminist research is
carried out than ever before and that more students than ever be fore are
exposed to feminist work through modules or courses taught within
traditional degrees such as sociology, English, art history, politics,
economics, ete. Gender has been recognized as a key category for
understanding experience and for constructing knowledge, and this is the real
achievement of the institutionalization of women' s studies.

Activism and the Academy

In many countries that have institutionalized women's studies, there was a

preceding grassroots movement of feminist activism trying to achieve change
for women. Indeed, one might argue that women's studies as an academic
discipline does not exist where there is no grassroots movement, and that in
most countries today it is more likely that there are non-academic women's
organizations than academic courses in women's studies. The relationship
between activism and the academy is, therefore, of great importance, but it
has also been a fraught one (see Morley and Walsh 1995; Malina and Maslin-
Prothero 1998; Griffin and Braidotti 2002). Several changes have occurred
during the last two decades that have impacted both activist organizations
and the academy in similar ways. These include changes in the impact of
global organizations on activism and the academy, the role of the nation state
in determining citizens' lives, and the mainstreaming of activism and the
academy as part of the redistribution of responsibilities between various
governmental and civil ac tors and agencies.

8 In 2000, the University of Manchester, which has an established women's studies centre,
until recently under the direction of Professor Liz Stanley, decided to foeus its activities on
research and postgraduate work. This new foeus on graduate studies and research is in-
creasingly eommon in the UK and is currently being contemplated also by Roehampton
(now part of the University of Surrey), the only institution in the UK whieh had a women's
studies department.
9 In FaiIing the FulIIre: A Dean Looks at Higher Education (1998), Annette Kolodny argues
that feminists have failed to make an impact in institutions in part beeause they have re-
fused to move into management positions.
Co-option or Transformation? 19

In many of the countries that have long histories of institutionalization of

women' s studies, the subject has become divorced to significant degrees
from the grassroots movement, projecting increasingly what one might
describe as the equivalent of a liberal arts agenda, devoid or depleted of
political content and with Iittle sense of bringing about any change or
achieving transformations for women. That absence of a transformative
poIitics under1ying the c1assroom agenda of women's studies is what drove
Alexander, Mohanty, and others in 1988 to set up the "Women of Color
Institute for Radical Research and Action" (1997), intent upon
"coIIaborat[ing] on the transformation of a feminist politics and to establish
an autonomous institution that would serve women committed to social
justice and revolutionary praxis" (xiii). One might argue that the realities
which prompted women to organize themselves in the 1960s and 1970s in
first instance have not significantly changed during the thirty years in wh ich
organized activism and teaching has occurred and that a certain
disiIlusionment has set in for aII concerned. 10 In some countries with lang
histories of integration of women's studies into universities, women's studies
is, perhaps therefore, experiencing something of a mid-life crisis. And
perhaps in consequence of this, the subject in those countries has become
more abstracted and has experienced what one might describe as the "cultural
turn." Denmark is a good example here. At present, Denmark is experiencing
a significant drain of senior feminist academics because despite its long-
standing institutionalization of women's studies in universities such Aalborg
and Aarhus, it has not established fuH professorships in the discipline.
Therefore, women such as Nina Lykke, and she is not the only one,l1 migrate
from Denmark to Sweden or Norway to become women's studies professors.
At the same time, there is a marked preoccupation in the women's studies
curricula in Denmark with "culture and technology," cyberspace and Lara
Croft, the virtual world as new fron tier. No similar curricular preoccupation
can be found in African women's studies courses I've looked at or in those of
many other European countries where women's studies is just beginning.
One interesting aspect of this development is that the work on gen der and
cyber technologies/cyberspace is remarkably free of visceral debates about
political agendas. Virtual reality seems to exist as sets of identifiable,
subdividable communities, chat rooms and websites, if you like, with which

10 Miller (1991) provides a vi vid account of this.

II The others are Bente Rosenbeck, who has moved to Lund University; Drude Dahlerup, who
has gone to Stockholm University; and Signe Amfred, who is now at Uppsala University.
The action plan for women's studies, which was established in the 1980s in Denmark and
which inaugurated eight associate professorships in women's studies, has not resulted in the
kind of infrastructure that would support the subject atthe highestlevellong-term. This is a
salutary lesson for women's studies in that it reminds us that there is no teleological cer-
tainty of progress for any disciplines; things cannot only not get belter - they can get worse.
The opposite is, of course, also true, and we should not forgetthat.
20 Gabriele GrifJin

feminist researchers engage in what I would describe as a curiously depoliti-

cized way.J2 One might argue with those working in the field of radical de-
mocracy (e.g. Mouffe; Alexander and Mohanty) that we no longer believe in
the nation state and in the political efficacy of the state apparatus, that, there-
fore, certain kinds of political engagement have become obsolete and need to
be re-thought. But, will that be achieved through the cultural turn?

The Sites of Women's Studies

Research into women's issues is without doubt aglobaI phenomenon, occur-

ring both within universities and in so-called non-governmental organizations
(NGOs). Many countries that have not institutionalized women's studies as
named degree routes in the academy - and that includes countries such as
Portugal, Greece, and Italy where there are few courses in women's studies
offered in universities - nonetheless have well-established women's research
and documentation centres and long traditions of undertaking research on
women's issues. Women's studies as a taught, academic discipline exists in
three kinds of sites, sites here referring to the kind of institution or organiza-
tion in wh ich women's studies takes place. The three sites are universities,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs),13 and organizations that are simul-
taneously part of an educational establishment such as a university and are
also a non-governmental organization.
This last phenomenon is rare, but it does occur. These three sites, uni ver-
sities, NGOs, and mixed-economy organizations which are part NGO, part
university, have a certain geopolitical distribution, manifesting, broadly
speaking - and speaking from a northern European perspective - a north-
south and an east-west divide, a divide which holds true both for Europe as
the micro-level and for the world as the macro-Ievel of gender training.
Whilst it is more common for women's studies to be taught to degree level in

12 It is not that they do not address politics (see, for instance, Case 1996), but since the loca-
tion of their analysis is cyberspace and thus rather remote, the attendant political debate
also seems to occur at a distance and to relate to something from which the viewer/readerl
audience is fundamentally dissociated.
13 Non-govemmental organizations flourished from the 1970s onwards, especially in the so-
called developing countries, in response to and as a function of the recognition by interna-
tional agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (lMF) that
states and governments were not the most effective actors in inaugurating and supporting
economic, social, and political change along the lines supported by western democracies. In
consequence, the state was increasingly bypassed as the key recipient and distributor of
funds in favour of NGOs, who were regarded as c\oser to the problems, more invested in
problem-solving and change, and more likely to achieve change (see Jackson, C. and R.
Pearson, 1998).
Co-option or Transformation? 21
universities in northern and western countries, It IS equally eommon for
women's studies to be taught to degree level in NGOs or mixed-eeonomy
organizations in southern and eastern countries. Thus, in the UK, in the Neth-
erlands, and in the Seandinavian countries, but also in the United States and -
and here the geostruetural divide breaks down - in countries that have late
eapitalist eeonomies, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, women's
studies is more likely to be taught in universities than in NGOs. As I shall
indieate, the type of organization in whieh women' s studies is taught refleets
not only the infrastruetural, edueational, and geopolitieal histories of its
eountry but also artieulates the kind of women's studies pro gram one is likely
to find within it. There is, therefore, an important eorrelation between the
kind of organization within whieh women's studies is taught and the kind of
women' s studies program that is offered.
The loeation and the eontent of women's studies programs intersect sig-
nifieantly with ehanges in the gender agenda in global polities. Thus, the
emergenee of women's studies in higher edueation curricula constituted both
a strategie initiative and a strategie response to the emergenee of an inereas-
ingly global reeognition of the importance of gender issues in world eeo-
nomies and world polities, "gender issues" referring in the main to the socio-
eultural, politieal, and eeonomic eonditions under wh ich women as sexed,
biological, material, and cultural entities exist. Under the banners of "aeeess"
and "widening partieipation," governments and international organizations
sought to harness women' s productive potential. The reeognition that
women's exc1usion from politieal partieipation and from the formal
economic sec tor was unproduetive eeonomically and in terms of generating
change led to the establishment, especially during the 1980s and 1990s, of
national and international policies that were designed to facilitate women's
aeeess to resourees and partieipation in eeonomic and politieal change. 14
These policies typieally artieulated the importanee of gender in politieal and
economie eontexts and inc1uded gen der as a key criterion for ineorporation
into legal frameworks, finaneial aid programs, and poliey-making. Their
basis in eapitalist demoeracies did not easily lend itself to applieation in the
former eommunist countries of Eastern Europe, for example, in wh ich
women had enjoyed greater equality under the law in terms of welfare
provision and in the formal labour eeonomy than they did subsequent to the
collapse of those regimes. 15 Nonetheless, in general it is true to say that there
was an import of gender into global politics and policy-making in the 1980s

14 This statement of course ignores the ways in which the end of the communist era in the
Eastern European countries led to a disenfranchisement of women unprecedented since the
establishment of the communist regimes (see Lange 2000, Molyneux 1996, Watson 1996).
Here we now have are-regulation of women to assurne "their place" in the emergent mar-
ket economies.
15 This has been widely discussed and analyzed, including in Scott et al. (1997) and Threlfall
22 Gabriele Griffin
and 1990s that resulted in the widening of participation and access for
women in political and economic terms at a worldwide level.
"Widening participation" and "access" as concepts and as lived realities
have, of course, been the objects of vigorous feminist critiques that raised
questions such as "On whose terms is participation for women expanded?"
and viewed the answer as articulating the self-subjugation, recolonization,
and co-option that has also dogged the integration of women's studies into
the academy. One key influence in the widening of participation was global
organizations such as the United Nations,16 the World Bank, and the Interna-
tional Monetary Fund. From the mid-I970s onwards, all of these organiza-
tions beg an to produce what might be termed pro-gender interventions, re-
sulting by the mid-1990s in, for example, the United Nations Development
Program's Human Devetopment Report of 1995, which featured the "Gender
Disparity Index" and the "Gender Empowerment Measure"; the United Na-
tions' report The Wor/d's Women: Trends and Statistics (1995); the World
Bank's analytical framework, entitled Toward Gender Equality: The Rote 01
Public Poticy, also of 1995; and, of course, the Fourth World Conference on
Women in Beijing in 1995. As an aside, it is perhaps worth noting that the
word leminist had, by that time, virtually disappeared; agendas were now
"gendered," with "gen der" seeming to be or to become the acceptable, finan-
cially supportable, indeed, mainstream-able face of what had been feminism,
since gender provided an apparently neutral term that could take the place of
the ideologically and politically much more overtly implicated wordleminist.
With this background in mind, I want to return to the issue of the inter-
relationship between the kind of organization in which women's studies is
taught and the kind of program that is offered. My claim is that where
women' s studies is taught exclusively or predominantly in universities, that is
in the north-western parts of Europe and of the world, the subject - partly due
to the degree of its institutionalization within universities and partly due to
the length of its intra-institutional history - has become increasingly divorced
from grassroots organizations, policy-making, and agendas for change. At the
same time, the NGOs that have established themselves in these countries
have become increasingly professionalized and bound into service-provision
rather than campaigning (see Griffin 1995) so that today we have two types
of female, no longer always feminist, professionals - the women's studies

16 The Uni ted Nations (2001) has an extended history of actions for women that, in parallel
with the establishment of taught women's studies programs, dates back to the 1970s. Thus,
it observed 1975 as an international Women's Year and held the first world conference on
women in Mexico. In 1979, it produced the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women. Ten years later at the Nairobi World Conference on
Women (1985), it adopted the "Forward-Iooking Strategies for the Advancement of
Women to the Year 2000." Not without its critics (see, for example, Baden and Goetz 1998;
Dutt 2000), the Uni ted Nations has, nonetheless, been a highly influential body in promot-
ing the recognition of gender issues at global level.
Co-option or Transformation? 23
academic and the female professional working in the voluntary and private
sec tor - servicing those needs of women and local communities, which the
dec1ining welfare state is no longer willing or able to provide for or never did
provide for in the first place. These two types of female professionals, in
many instances, reside in parallel rather than in interconnecting universes;
their agendas driven more directly by the funding bodies that support their
activities than by feminist agendas of transformation. The absence of any
form of collectivism, which is visible in this parallel-universe world, is indi-
cated in the plurals that dominate the teaching programs, where "sexualities,"
"identities," "technologies," "cultures," and "minorities" bespeak the plural-
ism of fragmentation, the individualism of late capitalism, and the dissipation
of political energyY The challenge, it is c1ear, remains how to retain a politi-
cal impetus despite institutionalization. It is achallenge that universities in
the north-western parts of Europe and of the world find hard to meet. 18

Women's Studies as an Education for Change Agents

The situation is rather different when one analyzes the taught women's stud-
ies programs that are offered by NGOs, universities, and mixed-economy
institutions in the south, south-western, and south-eastern parts of the world.
Here "sexualities," "identities," and other postmodern concepts feature much
less prominently if at all. A different kind of instrumentality prevails. Instead,
we have mission statements and aims and objectives that relate direct1y to
agendas for change that are meant to be enacted rather than merely contem-
plated. One of these agendas is the education at tertiary level and profession-
alizatiqn of women and their integration into the administrative middle
classes. The Asian Institute of Technology (2001), for instance, has as two of
its objectives "to facilitate increased participation of Asian women in profes-
sions in science, technology, environment, and resource management" and
"to gain for women access to the status and authority in the larger society that
participation in technological planning and decision-making bring." This is
about the education of a new ruling elite of professionals. Whilst one may
well ask - and countries such as many Eastern European on es but also China,

17 In a revealing account of this phenomenon, Miller (1991) charts and attempts to account for
the transformative potential of the move from collectivism to individualism, which she re-
gards as always already - to use a hackneyed postmodern phrase - embedded in feminism
and its claim that "the personal is the political."
18 In the UK, a number of courses in women's studies at both the undergraduate and post-
graduate levels have closed down during the last five years. The Women's Studies Network
(UK) Association newsletter offers regular articles and comments on this phenomenon. In
Australia, the women's studies program at Monash University has just been threatened with
24 Gabriele Griffin

for instance, serve as counter-indicators here - how much actual access to

status and authority women' s participation in technological planning and
decision-making brings,19 the aspiration articulated here is c1ear enough. It is
also articulated within a framework that sees this aspiration as firmly embed-
ded in a politics that connects the teaching in the university with the women's
movement and women's activism outside of the academy. Thus, Gender and
Development Studies within the Asian Institute of Technology has as a fur-
ther objective "to contribute to empowering women at professional and at
grassroots level in Asia through gender sensitization and the extension of
scientific knowledge." It places "high priorities" on "regional outreach and
extension activities" and regards itself as "functioning as an academic arm of
community-based efforts for the advancement of women, equity-based sus-
tainable development and the environment." I doubt that any women's
studies program in a British university, for example, would describe itself in
its publicity as "the academic arm of community-based efforts for the
advancement of women," simply because that connection has become
increasingly tenuous. The mission of the Department of Women and Gender
Studies of Makerere University (2001), Kampala, Uganda, is "to contribute
to the development of Uganda through ensuring that the gen der component is
an integral part of the development process." Its first objective, more bluntly,
is "to train a cadre of various backgrounds who will serve in government,
academic, and non-governmental organizations, where they wiII act as
catalysts for change and will facilitate the integration of gen der in decision-
making and policy formation." The terminology may surprise - again, I
doubt that many north-western women's studies courses would use words
such as cadre - but the underlying intention is, again, very c1ear: the program
is committed to educating the administrators and professionals who wiIIlead
the country as "catalysts for change." Similarly, the Gender and Women's
Studies Graduate Program at the Middle East Technical University in
Ankara, Turkey (2001), has as its objectives "to increase the number of
professionals and experts in different areas who are sensitive to and
knowledgeable in gen der studies and women's issues in Turkey" and "to
train civil servants for institutions and departments dealing with gender issues
and problems." Ahfad University for Women in the Sudan aims to "prepare
women to assurne responsible roles in families, communities, and in the
nation" and intends "to prepare women from all parts of Sudan to become
change agents in their families and communities and to assurne leadership
positions in society." The African Gender Institute (2001) at the University of
Cape Town in South Africa is even more specific than that. Focusing on

19 Significantly, the Moscow Center for Gender Studies (2001), an NGO, has as one of its
mission statements, "withstanding sexism in the humanities, mass consciousness, and social
policies under the present conditions, with the growing tendencies to consider women in the
light of traditional role stereotypes."
Co-option or Transformation? 25
capacity building, the institute offers a graduate program on "Gender and
Transformation" that devotes "particular attention to the different interests of
various agencies involved in development work and the transformatory
potential of different development strategies they deploy." Graduates, it
states, will be equipped "to contribute to democratization and bring about the
changes demanded by significant sec tors of the population."
These claims on behalf of women for participation in a gender-conscious
transformation of society are claims that go hand in hand with the drives
towards democratization and a free market economy that international or-
ganizations such as theUnited Nations and the World Bank support. The
resultant opportunities for the funding of research projects are key to the
success of the programs to which are referred. Whether it be through the
SOROS-funded Open Society Institute,20 the Canadian International Devel-
opment Agency, the Sudan-American Foundation for Education, Inc., the
Eurasia Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, or the Institute of Social
Studies in The Hague, what many of the NGO and university women's stud-
ies programs in the southern and eastern parts of the world share is a fun ding-
driven, transformation and change oriented agenda such as north-western
university programs in women's studies rarely tend to have. These frequently
include outreach programs to communities and groups of women who have
little or no access to education. Outreach programs, such as the one the Asian
Institute of Technology offers, are much more common in the southern and
eastern regions of the worId and are more often done by NGOs and mixed-
economy institutions than by universities. The Institute for Women's Studies
in the Arab World (2001) in Beirut, Lebanon, for instance, offers action pro-
grams for women that include "income generating, rural development and
basic living skills programs" for "iIIiterate and semi-literate women."

Co-option or Transformation?

Although these programs are concerned with interventions at policy and

government levels that are quite rare in Western democracies today, in itself
a laudable enterprise, there have been extensive debates about the meanings
of these programs. On the one hand, feminists such as Monica Threlfall
(1996), for instance, argue that
... engaging with the mainstream has notled to the feared one-sided dependence or absorp-
tion. On the contrary: women's groups have made creative use of opportunities provided
by parties, institutions and governments, pushing for advantage and gaining access to

20 Renata Scribar (2002) provides an interesting account of the ways in which the re-location
ofthe Open Society Institute impacted women's NGOs.
26 Gabriele GrifJin
different levels of power, and using them to defend or develop what was understood to be
in women's interest. (289-90)

Threlfall insists that rather than viewing "the strategy of making use of ex-
isting institutions, whether understood as 'mainstreaming' or as 'institution-
alization'" as problematic, one should recognize that "few improvements
occur without it" (290). Against this positive and optimistic assessment of the
impact of the institutionalization of women's studies on women's lived con-
ditions may be set an analysis of the "relations of ruling" (Smith 1990), such
as Naila Kabeer's (1994) representation of "reversed realities" or Alexander
and Mohanty's (1997) view that the institutionalization of a particular defini-
tion of women' s studies "bol ster up inherited regimes of race and Eurocen-
trism" (xiv) which amount to "processes of recolonization" (xvii) in wh ich
"the contemporary practices of postcolonial and advanced colonial states" are
both imbricated and implicated. The clearest way in which one might demon-
strate Alexander and Mohanty's point is by considering the fIow of knowl-
edge production and dissemination. Go to any European countries, east or
west, today and ask if women in the academy have heard of Judith Butler and
the answer will be a uniform "yes." Ask in the same country, exempting the
country of origin, and the same women if they have heard of Laura Balbo or
of Svetlana Slapsak and the answer is likely to be "no." Few women in Eng-
land, for example, can name more than one or two contemporary German
feminist theorists; many cannot name a single one. The translation projects
common in many European countries are non-existent in the UK and, to a
lesser degree, in the United States. 21 By contrast, the second book the
Kharkov Center for Gender Studies in the Ukraine published was "an anthol-
ogy of modern Western works on gender theory." In the Graduate Program in
Women's Studies in Japan (2001), "directed readings are designed to develop
a firm comprehension of the literature on Women's Studies in English." One
of the imbalances that emerges in any analysis of institutionalized women's
studies programs around the world is the one-way information and communi-
cation fIow that dominates the epistemic distribution of the subject. In her
recent book Is Science Multi-Cultural? (1998), Sandra Harding demonstrates
the ways in which western scientific knowledge has failed to learn from
knowledges generated elsewhere, assuming instead a missionary position that
has been difficult to resist. A similar problem has been observed in the con-
text of the post-communist countries where western funding initiatives, on
the one hand, and histories of extramural resistance, on the other, have
clashed in the effort to determine agendas and institutional structures. Thus,
in February 2000, I attended a lively debate at the Central European Uni ver-
sity in Budapest where questions were being asked about infrastructural is-
sues - like, What kind of an institution do we want? - and issues of epistemic

21 Ketald Kushari Dyson (2000) points out that "while English is the most-translated-from
language in the world, it fis] the least-translated-into of all the Western languages" (v).
Co-option or Transformation? 27

content - What. sort of knowledges do we need? - at a point in time when

historically women's studies had been the territory of oppositional NGOs and
when countries, obliged to re-invent themselves following the collapse of
their previous regimes, had an opportunity to think seriously about the kinds
of institutions and programs they might want. That opportunity was then
given shape in many Eastern countries, not least Hungary, by western funders
willing to provide financial support, with the effect that a kind of recoloniza-
tion occurred. At one point in the 1990s, there was an almost unseemly
scramble for influence, with the Nordic countries, on the one hand, European
Union-funded initiatives, on the other, and transatlantic input, in addition,
vying for territorial rights in the women's studies knowledge stakes in
Eastern European countries, all dying to recreate those countries' women's
studies agendas in their own image. Nora Jung (1990) has interestingly
analyzed how that process shaped and distorted ideas about feminist activism
and teaching in those countries, not only through the disregard of existent
indigenous knowledges but also through the ways in which western
feminists' access to feminists within these countries was determined by the
latters' ability to speak English, for example.

Major Issues in Establishing Women's/Gender Studies in

Higher Education

A number of key issues emerge, then, in the context of establishing

women's/gender studies in higher education. These are as folIows:

Problem I: The Public is Profoundly Patriarchal

By this I mean that universities all over the world to this day, especially in
their management structures, are dominated by men who have on the whole
little interest in supporting the subject except for strategie reasons.

Problem 2: Utility is Therefore the Key to Integration

By this I me an that the demonstration of economic and/or political relevance,

both to the institution and to wider public aims and objectives, is key to
achieving visibility and integration for women's studies in universities.
28 Gabriele GrijJin

Problem 3: The Hegemony of Monologic Traditional Disciplines

In many countries the institutionalization of women' s studies is obstructed by

the hegemony of monologic traditional disciplines that do not allow for the
multi-, trans- and/or inter-diseiplinary nature of subjects such as women's
studies. This is made worse by the fact that the resouree models in many
institutions favour traditional diseiplines and departments rather than inter-
diseiplinarity and eross-faculty eollaboration.

Problem 4: Women's Studies Socio-politicalAgendas

As a subjeet that seems to front its politieal agendas, especially in so far as

they are counter-hegemonie, women's studies defies epistemie traditions that
stress objeetivity, neutrality, and disinterested inquiry, since women' s studies
does not pretend to be disinterested or neutral. This is a problem in many
countries that embrace a very particular idea of knowledge and of the sei-

Problem 5: The Advancement of Knowledge Versus the

Transformation of Knowledge

The advaneement of knowledge is not the same as the transformation of

knowledge. There ean be no doubt that women's studies has advanced
knowledge in signifieant ways, but there remain questions to be asked about
the extent to which it has achieved paradigmatie shifts in knowledge
produetion and dissemination. Maybe Lorde was right that the master's lOols
can never dismantle the master's house, but at present and despite women's
studies, it is not c1ear what another set of tools might look like or whether
they would or eould make a signifieant differenee to the master's house.

Problem 6: The Next Generation

Another problem assoeiated with the establishment of women's studies in

higher education is the question of who and where the next generation of
feminists are? Being a feminist means putting your life in danger in eountries
such as Algeria, for example. In north European countries that partieular
threat does not exist, but nonetheless there is something of a erisis of sueees-
sion amongst feminists and of the aecommodation between older and
younger feminists with quite divergent politieal histories and interests. The
mobilization of a new, younger generation of feminists is key to the survival
Co-option or Transformation? 29
of the discipline and the maintenance of an aspiration of transformative poli-
tics. It is a task that needs addressing.

Problem 7: Co-option or Transformation?

FinaIly, there is the problematic of compromise, what Jacqui Alexander and

Chandra Mohanty describe as the self-subjugation of women as the price paid
for inserting themselves in hegemonic orders and institutions such as uni ver-

The Future of Women's/Gender Studies

However, for all these obstacIes to the establishment of women's studies in

higher education, I would want to argue that the future of women's studies on
a worldwide scale is very rosy indeed. As the cartoonist Jackie Fleming put
it: "Never give up!" But my optimism is not just a function of wanting or
needing to project a fighting spirit, it is also fuelled by the fact that the recog-
nition at an international level of the importance of gender as a criterion in
policy-making has provided women globally with opportunities for partici-
pation in the public sphere and for transformation of that sphere in ways
which in the 1960s and early 1970s people, especially perhaps women, would
probably not have thought possible. We should not underestimate what it
means to have the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union, and
other such bodies recognize that women should be supported to act as change
agents. Therein, as the saying goes, lie both our opportunity and oUr chal-
lenge. How to use the opportunities without compromising feminist politics
is the challenge of today and tomorrow.


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munity. London: Verso, 1992
Sapegno, S.: Psychoanalysis and Feminism. A European Perspective. In: Griffin, G.,
and R. Braidotti (Eds.): Thinking Differently: A Reader in European Women's
Studies. London: Zed Books, 2002
Scott, 1. W., C. Kaplan, and D. Keates (Eds.): Transitions, Environments, Transla-
tions. Feminisms in International Politics. London: Routledge, 1997
Scribar, R.: The Women's Movement and Women's Studies in Siovenia. In: Griffin,
G., and R. Braidotti (Eds.): Thinking Differently: A Reader in European
Women's Studies. London: Zed Books, 2002
Sisterhood is Global Institute/Institut pour la solidarite internationale des femmes
(2000) at www.sigLorg/Resource/stats.html.
Smith, B. G. (Ed.): Global Feminisms Since 1945. London: RoutIedge, 2000
Smith, D. E.: Texts, Facts, and Femininity. Exploring the Relations of Ruling. Lon-
don: Routledge, 1990
Threlfall, M. (Ed.): Mapping the Women's Movement: Feminist Politics and Sodal
Transformation in the North. London: Verso, 1996
Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy, Development in Practice Series.
Washington: World Bank, 1995
Uni ted Nations: The World's Women, 1995. Trends and Statistics. New York: United
Nations, 1995
United Nations (2001) at
Scrn2.html, 15/05/2001, 15:37
United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 1995. New
York: UNDP, 1995
Watson, P.: The Rise ofMasculinism in Eastern Europe. In: Threlfall, M. (Ed.): Map-
ping the Women's Movement. Feminist Politics and Sodal Transformation in the
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Women's Studies Center, Santiago, Chile (2001) at
15/05/2001, 15:52
Victoria Grace

From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies:

Challenges to Gender Studies at the University of
Canterbury, New Zealand


The Department of Gender Studies began at the University of Canterbury as a

program in feminist studies in 1987, grew to attain the status of Department
of Feminist Studies, and this year has changed its name to "Gender Studies."
It cuttently has an academic staff establishment of four continuing positions.
This paper outlines the chaHenges faced during the department's growth and
consolidation as weH as its current actions to retain a viable student and re-
search base. 1 will consider a number of issues in the context of a turbulent
national poIicy framework. The discussion will include the question of reIa-
tionships with feminist schoIarship based in other discipIines and interdisci-
plinary pro grams on the campus, the implications of the rise of interdiscipIi-
narity in sociaI sciences and humanities, the politics of knowledge and aca-
demic "territory," the issues of autonomy and size, the reIationship with the
broader university, the issues facing research, the impact and opportunities of
the incarnation of student as consumer and of tertiary education as a voca-
tional track, the perceptions of feminist schoIarship, and the relationships
between academic feminist scholarship and the wider community of
women's and feminist's interests.

Women's and Gender Studies in New Zealand Universities

New ZeaIand is a small country in the south Pacific with a population of 3.8
million and has eight universities providing research-led teaching at degree
level. At the time of significant feminist activities during the 1970s and 80s,
six of these universities established women's studies programs. Canterbury
was the exception with a program called specifically "Feminist Studies."
Most of these programs attained fully independent status over the next dec-
ade. Two obtained dedicated chairs, and professors of women' s studies were
appointed at AuckIand and Waikato.
34 Victoria Grace

The peak of student enrolment and staff establishment occurred by the

mid-1990s after a decade of growth and consolidation, with most programs
attaining a staff establishment of four permanent academics. All but one
offered the full range of degrees from bachelors to doctorate. The department
at the University of Canterbury provides the full range of degrees and peaked
with the highest total student enrolments in New Zealand in the course of a
single year in 1998 with 106 equivalent full-time student enrolments (staff:
student ratio of 1:23.8).
In the mid to late 1990s a number of factors combined to lead to the rela-
tively abrupt decline of women's and gender studies programs in most uni-
versities in New Zealand. At least a decade of underfunding of universities
by government, increases in student tuition fees, the exacerbation of an al-
ready competitive ethos, restructuring initiatives introducing additionallayers
of administration, and the presence of a financially-driven administrative
"centre" in universities with a new discourse of managerial imperatives all
combined to create a drop in student enrolments in some programs/depart-
ments and to drive income/expenditure ratios down to departmental level in
most institutions. In this climate, women' sand gen der studies programs have
been disestablished, repositioned, amalgamated into other departments, or, in
other ways, "flexibly redistributed" over the last five years. Two remain
independent and autonomous (in the sense of not being a program within a
larger departmental or school structure) at the current time: Auckland and
Auckland has retained a viable student base to date. At Canterbury we
have seen a dramatic drop in student numbers since 1998 - slight in 1999,
dramatic in 2000, and slight again in 2001. In 2000 we had a staff-student
ratio of 1: 14.5 (university average of 1: 18.3), representing a huge drop in
three years. 1

Influences, Challenges, and Actions - The Last Three Years

Shifting patterns of student enrolments in tertiary courses and programs na-

tionally have impacted women's studies. As students' fees rise and as the
imperative to accrue value for the dollar spent on tertiary education cuts
deepen, students are increasingly persuaded to enrol in courses where they
perceive that they might realize their investments through lucrative employ-
ment following their studies as they pay off their student loans. This, in com-

Since the time of writing, one member of the staff has indicated retirement from February
2002. This fourth position has not been retained, in a financial climate of disestablishment
of positions that are vacated. With three full-time continuing positions, the department is
even more fragile.
From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies 35

bination with removing the cap on the full-time student fee, has meant that
students often avoid doing additional courses that might be characterized as
"interest courses." Increasing numbers of students are enrolling in commerce
and law by comparison to arts and even science. The perceived "usefulness"
of a degree is increasingly driving student enrolment patterns and influencing
programs deemed "popular" and considered to be a sensible "investment." In
addition, government funding following the student has meant an increased
proportion of the tertiary funding quantum is directed to private institutions.
The adaptations our pro gram is making to these challenges to retain a vi-
able student base firstly involved our reluctant change in name from "Femi-
nist Studies" to "Gender Studies." Reluctance occurred because this name
was a genuine achievement in the conservative university context of the mid-
1980s and also because the academic staff still believes this name best con-
veys what we actually do academically. The change resulted from our recog-
nition of the extent to wh ich the jeminist word was not so much putting inter-
estedstudents off taking our courses but making it increasingly difficult for
them to explain their choices to others, particularly if they completed a major
with uso It has become c1ear over the last few years that the word jeminist
evokes connotations for employers, parents, and students other than those
who enrol with us, which are not commensurate with our intent and do not
adequately or reasonably describe our actual work. Rather than trying to
change and update the general public's perception of the word, we changed
our name.
What we liked about "Feminist Studies" was our resolve that we could
study anything from a feminist perspective, and we did not constrain our
inquiry to "women" (as might be implied by the name of "Women's Stud-
ies"). Our intention is to retain the same focus with "Gender Studies." Feed-
back from students suggests that "Gender Studies" is a more acceptable name
and makes it easier for them to take our courses without facing inappropriate
reactions to their choice. We have, of course, a lingering ambivalence about
this move.
Additional actions we are currently considering inc1ude the possible ad-
ditional strand in the program of a more "applied" preparation for specific
types of work in addition to research, for example in gender policy analysis,
or bringing a gender analysis to, for example, community health services.
Having said that, we resist the possible dilution of the theoretical and critical
rigor currently necessary for successful completion of degrees in gender
studies through utilitarian arguments; we are aware, however, that the devel-
opment of an appropriate more applied stand does not necessarily me an this
will happen. This comprises another challenge.
Ensuring our program is of interest and relevance to younger women stu-
dents is a very high priority, and we are currently embarking on a program of
liaison with secondary schools. We are also planning a focused investigation
to gain a better understanding of what it is that potential school-Ieaving stu-
36 Victoria Grace

dents would most like to study and achieve through gender studies. We are
keen to share this information and establish ongoing liaison with other cen-
tres of women's and gender studies with whom we might generate a greater
knowledge of the emphases and topics in gen der studies that are of interest
and importance to young women across our different cultures and situations
In the Department of Gender Studies at Canterbury we are also eager to
boost our research activity to increase the amount of external research fund-
ing that the department receives by way of research overhead dollars (in
addition to funding the research). This is not only important in terms of in-
come but also in terms of developing a strong research profile, which is vital
to our long term survival and academic standing. The national and interna-
tional linkages we can establish to enhance our collaborative team-research
efforts are all useful means to further this aim. Indeed, such coIlaborations
nationally and internationally are vital to sustaining our interdisciplinary
field. Importantly, research-funding sources in New Zealand do not neces-
sarily prescribe research directions.
At the University of Canterbury we are currently inc1ined to retain our
core curriculum of feminist theory, history , and research. There is increasing
pressure to abandon required courses, and some women' s studies programs in
New Zealand have chosen to abandon a core and to solely offer courses that
will attract students interested in gender and feminist issues, as these are
evident through substantive topic areas. It is my thought that the retention of
a core set of courses compulsory to a major serves to ensure we retain a dis-
tinct basis for our program that is not duplicated in any other department's
offerings - an important consideration as the disciplines and departments of
the humanities and social sciences become increasingly interdisciplinary. In
addition to the core, we have two substantive strands to our program: one is
health, sexualities, and embodiment; the other ipc1udes culture, ethnicity, and
Developments in gen der studies over the next few years will be shaped
profoundly by the turbulent national policy framework for the tertiary sector
in New Zealand. The university sector is at a crisis point fiscally as it deals
with underfunding from government. The government is proposing a central
Tertiary Education Commission to act as an intermediary body between gov-
ernment and the sec tor that will manage and allocate funding. The commis-
sion will "steer" the sector to reduce what is referred to as too frequent in-
stances of wasteful use of tax-payers' dollars, after a number of years of a
laisser faire competitive model, and to monitor the fields in which the coun-
try is "producing" graduates.
I will briefly discuss a few selected key issues that, as I see it, are influ-
encing and constraining the future development and orientation of women's
and gender studies currently in New Zealand. There are others, of course, but
From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies 37

because of time and scope, I will just focus on three: interdisciplinarity, con-
sumerism, and the changing role of academic feminism.

Current Issues and Conundrums


The idea of culture in Cultural Studies is not really an idea in the strong sense
proposed by the modern university. Cultural Studies, that is, does not propose
culture as a regulatory ideal for research and teaching so much as recognize
the inability of culture to function as such an idea any longer (Readings,
1996: 174).
Just as cultural studies is not about the study of "culture," so arguably
sociology is no longer ab out the study of "society," nor history unproblemati-
cally the study of the temporal "past." Insofar as these observations remain
unacknowledged but arguably constitutive of contemporary academic work,
the disciplinary basis of the arts in the academy becomes more and more
confused. The argument that the very construct and meaning of the genera-
tion and dissemination of knowledge(s) in the university is changing has
some compelling empirical correlates. It appears to be the case that the disci-
plinary structure of the academy sits increasingly uneasily alongside those
interdisciplinary fields that take "issues" or "topics" as their foci instead of a
primary disciplinary commitment to or reliance on a canon of theory or theo-
retical debates or a research methodology or methodologies.
For example, there is a trend in our universities for those teaching in es-
tablished disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology, geography, or
English to offer courses that look increasingly like those taught in gen der
studies, theatre and film studies, communications, and cultural studies.
Courses with a substantive focus of feminist concern (but not necessarily
focusing on gender) may even be taught by feminist staff members with
doctoral degrees in women's studies, who use predominantly feminist litera-
ture to teach the courses. It is clear that the boundaries become very blurred,
as arguably the most interesting work in the disciplines is that which gravi-
tates towards the boundaries and engages the points of confusion and overlap
with other disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, regardless of the substan-
tive issue. As this occurs, there is a greater and greater need to resolve the
territorial disputes which traverse maUers of staffing, departmental names,
legitimacy of claims to pro grams, and the role of interdisciplinarity generally
in the humanities and social sciences.
In a university where departments are funded by number of students, it is
clear this will create an incentive for departments to mark out what is per-
38 Victoria Grace

ceived to be an attractive field and attempt to inc1ude it within their depart-

mental program. And as the attractive fields are increasingly interdiscipli-
nary, at the intersections and points of disjuncture, this can jeopardize the
advantage small programs founded on interdisciplinary commitments may
have achieved-small departments that have less institutional strength to fight
unwelcome territorial battles.
It would appear that the most logical way forward would be a serious re-
consideration of the nature of the disciplines and a rethinking of the role of
disciplinary knowledge in grappling with the most pressing and critical issues
in our contemporary world. It is also important to ensure that the organiza-
tional academic structures of the university are designed to best facilitate
interdisciplinary work without the pervasive turf wars. Without these struc-
tures, territorial demarcations by departments in relation to feminist litera-
tures and subjects will continue to influence and constrain the direction and
conte nt of gender studies.

The Incarnation of Student as Consumer

The question posed to the university is thus not how to turn the institution
into a haven for thought, but how to think in an institution whose develop-
ment tends to make thought more and more difficult, less and less necessary.
(Readings 1996: 175 (emphasis added))
The notion of the utility and economic value of knowledge and the provi-
sion of education as a service with its attendant quality assurance industry has
made enormous inroads into the academy in Anglo-American countries.
Indeed, universities arguably take the business model of the transnational
corporation as the creed to which the most worthy and successful must as-
pire, ·engendering a "mine is bigger than yours" mentality of numbing repeti-
As the student is positioned to demand the right to satisfaction as a con-
sumer of a service, it is increasingly difficult to maintain the criticality of
programs that do not endeavour to produce and successfully transfer the
ontological commodity of positive knowledge but rather seek to entice an
uncompromising deconstruction of existing knowledge production. In an
environment where "excellence" is the mysterious goal for the "scholarship
of teaching," students are possibly less inc1ined to be persuaded by a logic
that runs counter to that of accumulation and stockpiling of the precious
substance that can be worthy of such acc1aim. As Bill Readings (1996) has so
aptly argued, the word excellence is bereft of a referent and floats as an
empty concept animating the terrain of "teaching and learning" along with
every other facet of university enterprise.
Over the last eight years, my experience in feminist studies has always
been that our students defied this trend and were drawn to more critical de-
From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies 39
constructive analysis in ways that demonstrated a willingness to pursue deep
inquiry. After three years in university administration and about to return to
teaching, I fear that this is an increasingly difficult line to hold. Without criti-
cal perspectives that emerge from a fundamental sense of revolt (in
Kristeva's meaning of the term), the knowledges of gender studies or
women's studies risks becoming another consumer product, assessed by its
purchasers as such. A critical and reflexive engagement with the logic of
consumerism and its global impact contemporarily would, therefore, seem to
be a crucial component of any women's or gender studies program.

The Changing Face 01 Politics and Meanings 01 Activism and


The University as an institution can deal with all kinds of knowledges, even
oppositional ones, so as to make them circulate to the benefit of the system as
a whole " ... radicalism sits weIl in the University marketplace. Hence the
futility of the radicalism that calls for a University that will produce more
radical kinds of knowledge, more radical students, more of anything. Such
appeals ... are doomed to confirm the very system they oppose." (Readings
1996: 163)
Bill Readings is critical of or cynical about the ultimate meaningfulness
of radical inquiry and contestation in the contemporary university. I think he
has a point, in fact, one of particular salience to our work (see Grace, 2000).
In the 1970s, feminist activism reflected a social movement intent on political
challenge and social change to address the root causes of the oppression of
women and the hegemony of heterosexism. This movement was grounded in
community activism and the ground swell of women's opposition to the
structures sustaining the status quo of gen der relations. There was a contro-
versial but often lively and productive relationship between feminist analysis
in the university context and community, national, and international feminist
activism. Sometimes this was one and the same thing.
From an antipodean viewpoint it seems that the changes in all of these
spheres in the last two decades have strained the relations between feminist
scholarship in universities and the often experientially-grounded and issue-
based feminist work in various communities of interest. As feminist claims
came under severe criticism for generalizations about women that white-
washed the profound differences between women in cultural, ethnic, and
socioeconomic terms, as the "movement" fragmented, and as the conditions
of possibility for "radical" politics changed with the advent of a consumerism
that effectively captures and recasts all forms of opposition, the role of femi-
nism in the academy has taken on a different form of controversy.
The key issue is that the distance between the "activism" of those wish-
ing to make tangible changes for the good of women and the theorizing of
40 Victoria Grace

those who question the very bases of these changes has undoubtedly wid-
ened. Thus, an issue of particular concern to those feminists who are insistent
that the academy must address issues of immediate significance to women is
that of the cIaimed "inaccessibility" of feminist theory as weIl as much of
feminist research and scholarship. This concern of "inaccessibility" raises
serious questions regarding the perceived political commitments feminist
academics are expected to have to causes of concern to particular groups of
women or to (often mediatized) gender politics - expectations that can poten-
tially constrain the criticality and rigor of the theoretical academic work un-
In other words, the sort of critical theoretical lines of inquiry feminist
scholars might wish to pursue in their research does not necessarily mean
they will agree with the perspectives taken by women's groups in the com-
munity, nor will their theoretical insights necessarily be commensurate with
the understandings feminist activists might have about the nature of contem-
porary social problems of gendering. This is particularly the case when the
goals of these women's groups reflect institutionaIly-supported agendas, for
example, the requirements of the World Bank or programs of "gender inte-
gration" in the "non-West" or "non-North."
There is no question that feminist activism needs NGOs working to im-
prove the lives of women in the domestic sphere and in public life. I argue
that we equally need those theorists who agitate at the deeply theoretical and
philosophical level. We need theorists who query, for example, the very
concept of the "economic" and the significance of its insertion into processes
of social exchange (particularly in a westernizing world), who inquire into
the implications of the paradigm of "consumption" and "growth" animating
political agendas, and who question deeply the assumptions embedded in the
immediacy and salience of action in ways that worry and problematize activ-
ist programs for "change." Feminist scholarship is precisely grounded in the
hermeneutic of these processes. We still need both.
It strikes me as often too easy to dismiss complex feminist theorizing and
interpretation as "irrelevant," or reflecting a "cultural turn" that is somehow
understood to be oppositional to the "realities" of economics, of politics, or
inequalities. Rather, I argue, that these often less accessible contributions 2 are
usually intent on debates of fundamental importance to the direction of social
transformations and must be sustained and nurtured.
Indeed, in the current cIimate of accelerating demand for relevance and
utility, these theoretical contributions to feminist scholarship are under
greater threat. The increasing requirement that academic research programs
produce outcomes of measurable utility and have instrumental value both in
commercial terms and for government policy (public good) is perfectly

2 The more critical will often be the less obvious, requiring more work to understand and
frequently being harder to contemplate.
From Feminist Studies to Gender Studies 41

aligned with those pragmatic research interventions explicitly aiming to re-

duce inequalities and increase, for example, "gender integration." It is pre-
cisely a time when critical theory is needed. And further, authors of such
theorizing only represent a threat if they can think faster than and critically
about the systems that appropriate and regurgitate all forms of radicality.
This disjuncture between the sophistication of writing and analysis in
feminist theory and the apparent world of applicability of feminist academic
work has led to a widening gulf between the two spheres.
This is evident in the tension between women students who voice these
concerns about the "relevance" of contemporary feminist theory to "real"
issues as these are lived and experienced, and the concern of (sorne) feminist
academics that this can represent an evasion of the hard intellectual work
required to critically evaluate the very construct of what a problem is, what
"experience" is, and how we might "know" about it. In my view, all good
critical theorizing is grounded in action. But as the demand for "usefulness"
is compounded by the insistence of a sometimes unreflexive demand for
"relevance," critical theorizing is increasingly difficult to sustain institution-


The place of women's studies and gender studies in universities is hard won
and important to retain wherever possible for numerous reasons that I have
assumed but not touched on here at all. Programs do, however, need to adapt
to survive, but this adaptation is ultimately central to the vitality of academic
The key issues that challenge this field as I currently see it are, of course,
the fiscal constraint with the attendant managerial and policy imperatives
impacting (most) universities internationally in the context of globalization
and the changing role of universities as weIl as a nu mb er of other concerns.
These include the question of how we review and rethink our field in an
increasingly interdisciplinary academy across the humanities and social sc i-
ences, the impact of consumerism on pedagogy and research, and the rela-
tionship of a politically-inspired field of academic work to an imagined con-
stituency in a world where arguably the very nature of politics (in countries
similar to New Zealand) has shifted since the inception of women' s studies.
42 Victoria Grace


Grace, Victoria: Baudrillard's ChalJenge. A Feminist Reading. London: Routledge,

Kristeva, Julia: The Future of aRevolt. New York, NY: Columbia University Press,
Readings, Bill: The University in Ruins. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996
Silke Wenk

Women's and Gender Studies in German Higher


In the past four years, a number of German universities have instituted inter-
disciplinary and transdisciplinary Women's Studies and Gender Studies pro-
grams. This development has taken place amidst a general restructuring of
the entire German university system in wh ich the relationship between the
government and the universities is being redefined. This has led to major
structural changes within the universities as weil. On the one hand, there has
been a move toward. granting universities more autonomy, but, at the same
time, universities have also become less democratic and more hierarchical.
Pressure on the universities to be more economic and efficient has increas-
ingly led to a reorganization of the curriculum to improve graduates' em-
ployment prospects.
The development and institutionalization of women's studies and gender
studies programs at German universities must be seen in this context. On the
one hand, the restructuring and reconstruction of the academic world has
served to dismantle some of the antiquated systems of white male privilege
and the narrow-minded perspectives of some disciplines. We must not forget
that the history of the academic disciplines and their canons is directly ried to
the formation of the nation-states. The critique of these patriarchal systems is
certainly we1come from a feminist perspective, not only in terms of bringing
more women into the institutions from which they have been excluded for so
long but also in transforming the institution itself. That feminists should be
instrumental in bringing about this transformation is imperative, since we can
already observe tendencies to suppress certain directions in gen der enquiry,
particularly that which is more theoretical and fundamental ("Grundlagenfor-
My intention in this paper is to first give a short overview of the institu-
tionalization of women's and gender studies in Germany followed by a de-
scription of two gender studies programs here in Oldenburg. My primary
focus will be on the interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary approach towards
gender studies wh ich we have adopted. In part two of my paper, I will then
describe a project in wh ich we are currently involved in order to demonstrate
the practical application of this approach. Transdisciplinary perspectives
44 Silke Wenk

seem particularly important in the midst of the restructuring of German uni-

versities today. The changes occurring in today' s world as a result of global-
ization necessitate a rethinking of tradition al forms of the production of
knowledge, wh ich I will address in part three. Of course, my paper reflects
my own subjective perspective. It is certainly not, nor is it intended to be, a
description of the "state of the art" of women's and gender studies in

Women and Gender Studies in Germany

For many years German universities have housed research centers for
women's studies and gender studies. In both East and West Berlin, for exam-
pIe, such centers have existed since the 1980s. In the last few years, a center
for interdisciplinary women' s studies has been instituted at the Technical
University of Berlin while at the University of Bremen the Feminist Studies
Center was created, to name just a few.
For the past two years, at a number of German universities, students have
been able to enrol in women's studies or gender studies programs, most of
which are MA pro grams offering a major or minor. These programs are all
interdisciplinary, with some of them committed to an explicitly transdiscipli-
nary perspective. What I mean by this is that they seek not only to combine
knowledge from individual disciplines but also to examine the different
forms of production of knowledge within each discipline as weIl as to estab-
lish new connections between the disciplines.
The University of Oldenburg and the Humboldt University in Berlin
have had such programs since the winter semester of 1997. Other universities
in Germany, most notably Göttingen, Konstanz and Freiburg, followed last
Incidentally, perhaps you have noticed that I use both of the current
terms, women' s studies and gender studies (',Frauen- und Geschlechter-
studien"). I don't do this because they concern themselves with different
issues but rather because each has a different theoretical emphasis and per-
spective. InitiaIly, the term "women's studies" was used, in Germany as weil
as in the United States and Great Britain. The focus of this feminist perspec-
tive has been more on analyzing and eradicating the oppression of women.
The term "gender studies" has been in use for the past five to ten years, and
this English term has slowly become the preferred term here in Germany
(e.g., Humboldt University in Berlin has instituted a "gender studies" pro-
gram). One reason for the growing preference for the term "gender studies" is
its increased emphasis on examining relations between the genders, including
an analysis of masculinity.
Warnen 's and Gender Studies in Gerrnan Higher Educatian 45

The German term for "gender studies", "Geschlechterstudien" , is inter-

esting because of the etymology of "Geschlecht." Up until the eighteenth
century and the beginning of the modern age in Western Europe, the German
"Geschlecht" had nothing to do with sex, biologically or socially. Instead, it
was used to refer to a person's lineage (stemming from nobility). The asso-
ciation of the term "Geschlecht" with the categories of male versus female is
quite new - historically speaking it is roughly two hundred years old.
But, let me return now to a discussion of the two inter- and transdiscipli-
nary women's and gender studies programs here in Oldenburg. One program
is our MA program, leading to a minor in women's and gender studies. The
structure of this program is such that both lecturers and courses are listed in
the interdisciplinary gender studies program as weil as in the individual
disciplines. This means that the same courses can be used to fulfil
requirements within a particular discipline while simultaneously fulfilling the
requirements of the gen der studies program. In addition, an increasing nu m-
ber of disciplines throughout the university offer students the possibility of
focusing on women's studies/gender studies within their discipline. For ex-
ample, in my department, the Art and Media Department, in wh ich art edu-
cation is included, gender studies has been one possible point of focus for
students since 1995.
This parallel structure recognizes that an interdisciplinary as weil as
transdisciplinary approach needs to be able to draw on the knowledge within
the individual disciplines. At the same time, the process of learning about
one's own discipline is greatly enriched by being exposed to knowledge from
other disciplines, particularly at the boundaries that separate the disciplines.

For example: CuItural Gender Studies

Perhaps I can explain the transdisciplinary approach best by describing how

we have utilized this approach in our graduate pro gram "Cultural Gender
Studies." It is a transdisciplinary module-based program geared towards
students who plan to pursue a doctoral degree. This program has as its pri-
mary goal to enable the students to apply a transdisciplinary approach to their
academic work. This program originated when colleagues from two disci-
plines beg an working together, disciplines which, according to tradition al
Western European academic hierarchical categories, should have little to do
with each other. On the one hand, there was art history, with its traditional
focus on white, heterosexual male artists within a high prestige discipline
dominated by men. On the other hand, there was textile studies, concerned
with popular culture, an area traditionally in "female hands" and hence at the
bottom of the hierarchy of academic disciplines.
46 Silke Wenk

It has been our long-term goal to question and critique the assumptions
behind the creation of gen der hierarchies among the disciplines in general; it
is our immediate goal to investigate as weil as to sabotage the division be-
tween these two particular disciplines. In turn, examining this division re-
veals a great deal about the social construction of gender and the hidden
assumptions that make the perpetuation of this hierarchy possible.
The purpose of this program is to set a learning process in motion that
examines the many issues that arise between these two disciplines, issues that
would otherwise be ignored. We are dealing with subjects at the margins of
the disciplines whose commonalties have not yet been explored. It is here
that hidden but omnipresent gender hierarchies and Eurocentric perspectives
have been re-established and perpetuated, even in cases where the individual
disciplines involved commonly examine these issues within the discipline.
Let me give an example of this. We have developed a common teaching
and research area, "The Staging of Gender in Political Space," which has
attracted many faculty members, including political scientist Lydia Potts, and
students alike. Within this area we are examining the many performative and
non-verbal practices that occur in the political field, e.g., standards of fashion
and visual representations in the media, such as photographs and television.
For example, we did research on the First Ladies of the United States as weil
as on women politicians in Germany, in which we examined the images of
"femininity" in political campaigns.
Our goal is to und erstand how meanings and significations of gender are
created in and between political and cultural discourse, as weil as between
the outspoken and unspoken, or in other words the "non-verbal politics." At
the same time, we are examining why this topic is so rarely discussed and
why it has been ignored as a focus of research in either discipline. The work
in this area has made it clear that working at the margins of one discipline
automatically brings one into contact with the margins of other disciplines.
Such research can be described as transdisciplinary not only because it
touches upon areas at the margins of the disciplines but also because it re-
flects upon the categories and methods used in the individual disciplines. At
the same time, such research must have a transcultural perspective if it in-
tends to analyze the relationship between specific cultural traditions and the
modern age in terms of the relations between gender constructions and politi-
cal formation (nation as an invention of modernity and its reinventions or
transformation under conditions of postcolonialism). It is imperative to ana-
lyze the viewpoints and values inherent in the discipline continually and
critically, and to remain committed to eliminating blind spots.
Up until now, our research has shown that in spite of the many differ-
ences in countries throughout the world, one commonality exists. In spite of
the fact that, worldwide, women continue to be underrepresented in the po-
litical sphere, in times of crisis and tradition, women consistently playa cen-
tral role. It has not been uncommon in the history of political and national
Warnen 's and Gender Studies in Gerrnan Higher Educatian 47

movements that women are initially active participants. However, after the
situation has stabilized, women once again find themselves forced to return to
a subordinate position. This brings me to the situation of women's and gen-
der studies in "societies in transition." As you will see there are some paraI-
leIs between this historical political reality and the state of women's and
gender studies today in universities in transition, such as in Germany.

Women's Studies and Gender Studies as a Model of

Innovation in a Time of Transition

How was it possible to establish women' s studies and gender studies pro-
grams at several German universities, both in the former West Germany as
weIl as in the former German Democratic Republic? And, will it be possible
to establish new programs at other universities? To answer this questions it
may be useful to realize/analyze what have been the conditions for estab-
lishing gender studies in the last decades.
One contributing factor towards the institutionalization of these programs
was what Edit Kirsch-Auwärter refers to as the "feminist interventionist cul-
ture," with its origins outside of institution al and university political move-
ments, in other words, "grassroots movements" in which a commitment to
social responsibility was always considered imperative.
Another contributing factor was certainly the innovative potential of
women's and gender studies. I maintain that this has been an important force
in the restructuring of academia. The displacement and spectacular break-
down of well-established legitimization strategies, which resulted from the
erosion of traditional academic life, favoured innovative thinking. Nowhere
was this more visible than in women's and gender studies, which became
models of innovation.
Feminist research had the advantage of having been tried and tested at
the margins of its existence and also having become, by necessity, more open
to self-reflection. This openness has carried over into feminist theory. From
the very beginning, feminist theory has warned of the dangers of organizing
knowledge into separate disciplines. Operating from this critical stance,
feminist theory has provoked not only a rethinking of the academic structur-
ing of knowledge but also of what each discipline considers as "knowledge."
In the end, feminist theory production grew out of a willingness to use the
powers of self-reflection to initiate change at all levels. This is an exceptional
state of affairs in academia (Hark 1998: Bi) - a truly a revolutionary
development within the dusty halls.
48 Silke Wenk

It should be evident from this that from the beginning feminist science
was transdisciplinary, an approach that seems to be much in demand at the
moment, particularly in the current ministries of science and education.
My colleagues Ilse Droege-Modelmog and Karin Flaake have formulated
the thesis that the contemporary placement of academia directly between the
political-economic "elite" and the "goods" they produce (as academic knowl-
edge has come to be viewed) makes it imperative to resort to whatever inno-
vative resources are available. Ironically, they point out, it is women's studies
and gender studies that are thus in demand (Dröge-Modelmog, Flaake 1997).
Even if we take these suggestions seriously, and there are good reasons
to do so, a number of questions remain unanswered. For, at the moment,
affirmative action as well as women' s studies and gender studies are being
threatened by the same process of restructuring that allowed them to become
established in the first place. Much of the success of these initiatives can be
attributed to a willingness to change and a capacity to be flexible. However,
women' s studies and gen der studies are now in danger of, once again, be-
coming marginalized, although perhaps in a different way.
Official programs of educational planning often speak these days of
transdisciplinarity and affirmative action for women. Upon careful examina-
tion, a number of small but significant changes are discernible that mark a
shift in political focus. For example, "affirmative action for women" is re-
ferred to more often than gender studies. The government initiative "gender
mainstreaming," as our Red (social democratic) - Green government refers to
it, fore sees equal representation for women in all segments of society and the
sciences, including the natural and technical sciences. This initiative is im-
portant, but it is also problematic, especially when such mainstreaming takes
place at the expense of gender studies and its transdisciplinarity.
The way the term" transdisciplinarity" is used in educational planning
also reveals important shifts in meaning that we cannot afford to accept. The
term is often used in official statements in connection with the demand that
academia concern itself with social concerns and that it should feel itself
responsible to society. Of course, it would be difficult to criticize, let alone
oppose, such a demand. The question arises however, "who defines which
social issues should be addressed?"
All too often these days, the question of social responsibility is confused
with immediate usability. Universities are increasingly being forced to turn to
outside sources for support and funding. This could me an that in the future
only those scientific endeavours will be funded that achieve certain immedi-
ate economic and political goals, turning the universities into political con-
sultants (,,Politikberatung").
There is a danger that it will be forgotten that reflection upon the condi-
tion under wh ich knowledge is produced is an essential prerequisite for ef-
fecting profound and far-reaching reform. This reflection is also critical to the
further internationalization of the universities. In addition, this development
Women's and Gender Studies in German Higher Education 49
ignores the fact that it is only possible to reflect upon societal conditions
when one does so from a distance.
Without this opportunity to reflect from a distance, we are in great dan-
ger of merely reproducing the tradition al hierarchical structures.
Research that concerns itself with the foundations of knowledge in any
discipline must be free of the pressure of immediate economic usability or
gain. This is as true of the development of a feminist critique of science as it
is of the ecologically oriented critique of the traditional natural and technical
sciences. There is no other way to ensure long-term success. Concerning
gen der studies, this is a fundamental issue. To ensure democratization of the
structures of knowledge production, feminist perspectives are essential, par-
ticularly during a process of transformation and transition.
For the transformation of forms and institutions in which knowledge is
produced, transdisciplinary and cultural study programs with transcultural
perspectives are equally essential. It is vital that this transformation inc1udes
programs that enable women and men to re-vision the gender and power
relations in science and in everyday life. And because all knowledge is cul-
turally bound, we need transcultural perspectives to allow our international
networking not to exc1ude differences but to work with them.


Dröge-Modelmog, Ilse, Flaake Karin: Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien an BRD-

Hochschulen. Produktive Potentiale und Problembereiche. In: Zeitschrift für
Frauenforschung 15 (1997) 4, pp. 7-19
Hark, Sabine: Disziplinäre Quergänge. (Un)Möglichkeiten transdisziplinärer Gesch-
lechterforschung. In: Potsdamer Studien zur Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung.,
2(1998) 2, pp. 9 -25
Wenk, Silke: Transdisziplinarität als hochschulpolitisches Programm. In: Batisweiler,
Claudia, Elisabeth Lembeck, Mechthild Jansen (Eds.): Geschlechterpolitik an
Hochschulen: Perspektivenwechsel. Zwischen Frauenförderung und Gender
Mainstreaming. Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 2001, pp. 107-119

(Translation Deidre Graydon)

Sigrid Metz-Gäckel

Women's and Gender Studies in Germany

- Strategies for Intemationalization

New Wine in Old Bottles?

Research conducted on the internet last year showed that about thirty univer-
sities and universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) in Germany had
institutionalized, to a certain extent, women's and gender studies in one form
oranother (Brandes et aI. 2002). This current wave of institutionalization of
course programs, subject and research areas, in the form of either centers,
institutes, or central foci within or outside the university is not yet finished.
Two nationally financed institutions were only just established last year: the
Competence Center "Frauen in der Informationsgesellschaft und Technolo-
gie" ("Women in Information and Technology")l in Bielefeld and the "Center
of Excellence Women and Science"2 (CEWS) in Bonn. I also know infor-
mally of further initiatives that have not yet appeared on the Internet.
This wave of institutionalization is difficult to interpret, especially in
light of some reports that say that the interest of younger women in women' s
and gender research has lessened and at the same time a change in terrninol-
ogy concerning gender research has taken place. 3 In addition to the rather
banal fact that men are also incIuded in this term, this change of titIe pleases
some feminists who are no longer satisfied with having a women-only per-
spective and in general problematize the dual category woman/man. It also
pleases others, incIuding conservative circles of the "old guard," because
gender and gender research sounds far less provocative and far more con-
formable than women's research.
This is also evident in the switch in terminology from women' s politics
to gender mainstreaming. The term gender mainstreaming has fast become
an international label, aIthough it is ambiguous and easily misunderstood.
Does this institutionalization indicate that the women's university
movement has achieved its aims? Or, is it about women securing resources at

Supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research and by the Federal Ministry
for Family, Pensioners, Wornen and Youth.
2 Supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
3 This opinion is not, of course, shared by all. For exarnple, the ETH Zürich recognizes a
growing interest of students in this therne whereas the Free University of Berlin reports a
decrease in gender related lectures as weil as in fernale academic personnel.
52 Sigrid Metz-Göckel

a time of new allocation fights in the universities? Or, is it about creating a

niche (or ghetto) for women in science? Or, could it possibly be about using
this new research area to profile universities? And, is this institutionalization
at all connected to a critical view of science?
A gender perspective' s introduction into subject areas and sciences can
be either additive or integrative. In the first case, it becomes an additional
topic. If women's studies or gender studies is offered as an independent
subject, then those students who are interested are educated in this knowl-
edge, but the majority remain unaffected. That is perhaps the most common
form of institutionalization. The other form is the integration of women and
gender themes into the core study program, e.g. within teacher training pro-
grams in particular but also all other study programs (intermingled forms are
also possible). This would be a positive understanding of mainstreaming.
Interdisciplinarity is one common feature of almost all the researched in-
stitutionalized forms of women's and gender studies. Internationalization, on
the contrary, is marginal.
If I am to believe the many protestations of interdiscplinarity, then it
must surely be a blossoming research branch. So unanimous is the emphasis
on interdisciplinarity that it appears as if it is a coin that can be used every-
where, and this makes me somewhat suspicious. As the evaluation of the
International Women's University (ifu) during the Expo 2000 has shown, the
realization of an interdisciplinary program is particularly difficult. Neverthe-
less, women and gen der research has from its very beginning been defined as
interdisciplinary because its routes of inquiry can be taken from several dis-
ciplines or lie somewhere between disciplines, for instance the analysis of
women's work or the female body. However, that women's/ gender research
is a model for problem oriented research and teaching - in pI ace of discipli-
nary based research and teaching - cannot be said.
Rather, the interdisciplinarity seems to be a welcome form of institution-
alization because it does the least damage to the faculties and disciplines. It is
a new corner into which women's and gender research can be pushed. There
it will cause the least disturbance but nevertheless still contain in its
terminology innovation and a claim of something different. These institu-
tionalizations, nevertheless, certainly mean a sense of continuity for the
women occupying this field and help secure their "patch." Yet, this patch
could soon become too narrow. Perhaps this is already the case.
Transdisciplinarity is another term for a multi-disciplinary approach.
There are some paralleIs to the term transnationality, but, as I refer to this
notion later, I wish to make just abrief comment at this point: The prefix
trans infers a superordinate level, whereas the prefix inter implies a level in-
between. From these meta-levels - or spaces between - the processes of
reflection grow, which can then have an effect on the other levels. Such
potential for reflection also relates to internationalization.
Women 's and Gender Studies in Germany 53
I was amazed to find so few references to internationality and intercul-
turality and almost none to globalization and globality in the descriptions of
women and gender studies programs. The international dimension of women
and gender studies until now seems to be weakly anchored in German pro-
grams, except for a prevailing orientation to the US and eIoser links to a few
chosen European countries, like Great Britain and Scandinavia.
The ways in which internationalization was at an thematized were com-
monly - four or five times explicitly - mentioned as: international seminars
and workshops as wen as international co-operation within the realm of EU
projects. Interculturality as a content focus was included within the interdis-
ciplinary Working Group for Women's Research (lAG) in Kassel. The inter-
national "Marie-Jahoda-Visiting Chair" at the University of Bochum was
unique in explicitly inc1uding internationality on the level of content and
personnel as a program; similarly noteworthy is the Lower-Saxon "Maria-
Goeppert-Mayer-Program for International Women's and Gender Research"
including an international visiting chair.
At first sight, the previously mentioned programs would indicate quite a
lot of institutionalization of women's and gender studies but hardly any with
an explicit international dimension. That doesn't mean that in these pro grams
nothing is done in this direction, it might just not have been deeIared pub-
lic1y. That is particularly surprising given the fact that internationalization is
a buzz word in the current university debate in Germany. It is meant to en-
courage more academic exchange between Germany and other countries, in
particular more calls for applications from European and North American
students. When I, however, look at the countries of origin of the "foreign"
students at my university, I see predominantly students from the (so-called)
"Third World." But one isn't satisfied with that. Obviously, there is a country
hierarchy and preference, wh ich determines which foreign students one
would prefer to others. One neither wants young German scientists to. stay in
the USA after a visit there but tries to lure them back with attractive incen-
tives like junior professorships. An this mirrors rather a Germany-centered
angle of the concept of internationalization.
Internationalization is used as a trump card in the competitive arena of
the system of higher education and serves as a characteristic of differentiation
between the universities. It also forces reform action in the direction of the
two-tier BA/MA graduation system. The recruitment of international students
from the growing and developing countries is seen as desirable in light of
future living standards and competitive markets of the national economies.
The integration of "foreign students" also serves as a vehieIe for more open-
ness and transparency in the established areas of study. Again, it is the eco-
nomic development of the individual universities or the improvement of the
German educational system that is the reference point for this concept of
internationalization. But, this can't be the meaning of intemationalization of
women's and gender studies.
54 Sigrid Metz-Göckel

Internationalization - Globality - Transnationality

What can internationalization and international diversity as a concept of

women's and gender studies mean? At this point, I would like to distinguish
between the level of recognition of internationalization and the ways the
topics of "nation" and specifically of "ethnicity" are dealt with on an every-
Concerning the area of recognition of internationality, one must differ-
entiate between internationality, globality, and transnationality.
Internationality is already used as a term when a German, a Dutch, and
an English colleague co-operate in research and teaching. International co-
operation can, therefore, mean much or little. Co-operation programs for
young academics in women's studies, such as NOISE on the European level,
support a wide range of co-operation. Such activities are increasing, at least
in Europe. Another form of internationality and multiculturality is produced
through migration and mobility, also through international organizations and
NGOs as weil as by the international women's movement.
Globality refers to the world as aglobai phenomenon and to universal
ideas and politics, such as women's rights as human rights and world
women's conferences. Globalization is not a uniform process but grows
through cultural and economic differences. A perspective of one world with
its imbalances between regions and countries puts on the agenda the relation-
ship between dominant cultures and peripheral cultures or those cultures that
need to be integrated. This requires the inclusion of perspectives from other
cultures within a horizontal differentiation.
Transnationality is a phenomenon which is caused by the processes of
migration of populations and the forms of co-operation between countries. It
concerns the individual, the national, and the supra-national levels. Transna-
tionality is experienced by people who have lived in several countries, either
compulsorily or free-willed, and who feel at horne in more than one culture
or do lack the feeling of belonging (be it parents who represent two different
cultures/nationalities or people who have lived in different countries). In
so me regions of the world, the migration of people has to be understood as a
system of migration, e.g. between Mexico and the southern states of the
USA, which has a huge effect on the relationship between these countries.
There are currently enough eye-openers forcing a perspective of understand-
ing of these phenomena that reaches beyond nation and nationality and helps
to discover the global horizon of social problems. A large part of the world' s
population continues to move and/or flee.
Women make up more than half of these mobile populations. Their proc-
esses of migration are different from those of men. Therefore, mainstream
migration research (migration studies) must integrate a gender-differentiated
Women's and Gender Studies in Germany 55
perspective. A large stream of individual people move mostly from poor
lands into rich lands, but the reasons for and ways of migration are multiple.
An international perspective enables the revelation of new questions,
concerning transmigrants and migration systems for instance, and may induce
new political policies at both anational and supra-national level, such as the
gender mainstreaming that currently is developed at the European Union
level and impacts the national gender politics.

Colleague Exchange Between Equals or the Hierarchy of


A mutual desire to learn from one another and relate to each other is the heart
and soul of international co-operation. At present, the scientific communica-
ti on process between North American women and European women as weIl
as amongst European women is comparatively abundant. Streams of German
female academics go predominantly to the USA and import concepts and
research from there. This kind of international exchange increases, above aIl,
the scientific reputation and the growing potential for research resources at
horne. However, those impacts mainly result from international research
contacts between European and/or industrialized nations. They do not relate
to aIl international contacts equally. A worldwide exchange presents other
In finding a way to deal with internationalization or internationality on
the thematic level, one must concern oneself with the kind of relations be-
tween different cultures, ethnicities, and nations: Are they structured equally
or hierarchically? In a situation of worldwide communication - as it was the
case during the International Women's University (ifu) at Hannover (see
below) - these relations between regions and nations necessarily become a
subject of communication and negotiation. Participants from African and
Asian countries used terms ranging from "Eurocentrism" to "racisrn" in order
to describe the concepts, models, pictures, terms and behaviour of European
scientists. A Chinese academic called the concept of "gen der" a western idea.
Migration is, for example, quite different from the perspective of the country
which takes in refugees in comparison to the perspective of those who, either
due to distress or because of a civil war or catastrophe, have to flee from their
homelands. Women from Africa responded with incomprehensibility to the
possibilities of reproduction technology for women in the USA. Women from
the so-called "Third World" criticized notions that were presented to them as
neutral or feminist science as Eurocentric and dominant culture biased, and
they demanded different terminology and forms of participation (Me tz-
Göckel 2002).
56 Sigrid Metz-Göckel

Such complaints and the duality of perspective can only be transcended if

stereotypes and concepts are differentiated in a critical exchange. "To 1earn to
think with the head of the other" was a key statement of the ifu president,
Aylä NeuseI. She concerned herself with the attempt to see a new horizon in
the north-south and east-west dialogues and to develop forms of communica-
tion in which perspectives could be exchanged and fixed categories could be
turned fluid. In this regard, women's and gender studies programs could offer
space and possibilities.

International Elites, Networks, and Exchange of Students

Different actors, both male and female, are involved in the process of inter-
nationalization. Female academics used to dealing with international coop-
eration should also keep an eye on the next generation of students and inte-
grate an international, respectively aglobai, perspective into the training of
students and young fern ale academics. As to this, a missing international
dimension in the institutionalization of women's and gender studies is even
more problematic. Internationalization, as a strategy of a deeper educational
exchange, can focus either on the exchange between students of industrial-
ized countries or between students (and faculty) worldwide. Such exchange is
widely estimated as aprerequisite for educating internationalleadership. It
also is seen as apreparation for engaging in worldwide dialogue processes.
That kind of co-operative discourse exists within the framework of peace
work and of international understanding as weil as in the international
women's movement. However, the way in which international educational
exchange is presented at the moment, be .it one sided, bilateral, or multilat-
eral, appears more and more to be simply a rhetoric of competition.
In contrast to the officially desired increase of the number of interna-
tional students at German universities, most of the teaching is based on syl-
labi which are founded on the perspectives and values of the dominant cul-
ture. Only in a few cases do the lectures especially refer to the international
student audience. At best, there may be a special program to introduce the
foreign students to standards and patterns of the dominant culture. This
means, however, that foreign students may be marginalized and that any
international exchange of experience on the part of the German students may
be prevented.
There is a wide field for women' sand gender studies programs to ac-
tively support exchange programs with a worldwide perspective. But, as this
might prove too great achallenge at present, universities with women's and
gender studies programs could concentrate on meaningful specialisations
Warnen 's and Gender Studies in Gerrnany 57
(e.g. special world regions). Another way could be to network these programs
in order to establish and widen international exchanges.
Why not establish a network that aims at strengthening contacts, pro-
grams, competences, and resources for global internationalization? Possible
forms for realizing global internationalization could be regular exchanges of
female academics from different countries, guest female academic ex-
changes, visiting scholar programs, etc.; common study programs, like sum-
mer schools and student exchanges; common research projects in the context
of European integration and globalization; and global projects, particularly
between North and South.

Strategies for Internationalization

Strategies for internationalisation should either relate to the personal or to the

content side or to both of them and might be actualized as any one of the
following: research co-operations (e.g. comparative research), conferences
and workshops, networks and network building, facuity and student ex-
changes along with formal recognition of the achieved grades, and new ori-
entation of academic subjects towards an international dimension as weil as
new perspectives beyond dualism.
Concerning this last point, IIse Lenz (1995) has introduced the concept of
a threefold socialization (beyond job market and family) into the women's
research discussion. According to this perspective, we live in a world with
multiple interdependencies and to such a degree that we no longer can ignore
that there is not only Germany and our country, etc. We are always connected
to others, economically, politically, and culturally. This is not only ab,out
exchange and profiling but also about the fact that we are affected by themes
that touch and mix and, therefore, take on different meanings. Threefold
socialization means in relation to the modern nation that, on one hand, the
majority of people is socialized in astate and acquire anational identity that
controls access to resources. But, on the other hand, there are many people
without anational passport. Without national membership, however, these
individuals lose the right of security and are threatened with exclusion. In this
mode of socialization, gender and national membership cross over. This is
also true of plural societies with several ethnicities and similarly for bi-cul-
tural couples and their children.
In opposition to this way of separating people into those who belong to
the same nation or ethnic group and "the others," it is important to maintain
the universal idea of human beings and human rights in general and to sup-
port the women's movement on the international and supra-national levels. In
this context, the mutual awareness of cultural differences may question the
58 Sigrid Metz-Göckel

notion of a culturally unspecified process of globalization. The International

Women's University (ifu) is an example and a starting point for this.

The International Women's University 'Technology and

Culture': Interculturality as a Highlight

The International Women's University 'Technology and Culture' (ifu) during

the World Exposition Expo 2000 at Hannover (Germany) was aglobai uni-
versity project with about one thousand women participating from 130 coun-
tries and all continents. The European and North American women were in
the minority (Metz-Göckel 2002). The worldwide recruitment of women
from science, NGOs, and organizations of the international women's move-
ment was achieved with the help of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange
Service). The ifu was a place where the participants constituted their "own
space" in which, as women from all over the world, they could discuss dif-
ferences and inequalities and, therefore, recognize and criticize nationalism
and Euro- and North American centrism as weIl as other imbalances.
Although there was a lot of criticism, intercultural communication was
much less of a problem than was the communication beyond the boundaries
of disciplines. A gender perspective served as an important vehicle for inte-
gration. Thus, the internationalization of research on women and gender as
weIl as of women's and gender studies is, in this regard, an important project
for the future.


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Women's and GenderStudies in Germany 59
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(2001) 1+2
Susan Zimmermann

Women's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local

Perspective: Developing the Frame

Endeavors to invent and institutionalize Women's and Gender Studies in the

academy in the last few decades have been based from the onset on (among
others) two fundamental claims. First, unfolding education and writing in
Women's and Gender Studies have been informed by the insight that it is the
partiality of social critique and critical scholarly analysis which lies at the
heart of the persistent invisibility of gender and gender-related hierarchy and
asymmetry in culture and society. Women's Studies (in part) grew from a
critique of gender-blind, masculinist conceptualizations of a number of fun-
damental categories such as the subject (as a fixed and universal category,
e.g. once it came to struggles over citizenship), class ( e.g. class struggle),
nation ( e.g. national liberation projects). This insight, by implication, went
along with a promise: namely that paying attention to gender in the academy
and in social struggle would result in more inclusive analytical perspectives
and in more inclusive forms of social critique. The second and related fun-
damental assertion is linked to a critique of how the production of knowledge
has been institutionalized in the academy. Gender, it was claimed early on,
was an important category of analysis beyond time and space, in all spheres
of culture and society. Consequently, Women's and Gender Studies were
imagined and conceptualized as fundamentally transgressing disciplinary
boundaries. This implied a critique of dominant patterns of compartmentali-
zation and departmentalization in the academy.
The scholarly perspectives and arguments, with reference to which
graduate education in Women's and Gender Studies at Central European
University, Budapest, Hungary, acquired their present status seek to con-
sciously translatethese (early) insights into institutional, academic, and cur-
ricular strategies. 1 The basic idea is to develop Gender Studies into an inte-

The related scholarly perspectives were first developed in a detailed Statement oi Purpose
which I wrote in 2001 to serve as the academic rationale for developing the then Program
on Gender and Culture into the Department of Gender Studies at CEU and for introducing
a Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender Studies in addition to the MA Program which aI-
ready existed. The original draft of the Statement was discussed with the faculty of the then
Program on Gender and Culture and an Ad Hoc International Advisory Committee assem-
62 Susan Zimmermann
grative enterprise on academic as weIl as institutionallevels. On the scholarly
level this implies promoting inquiry into the entanglement of social and ana-
lytical relations and categories (such as the global and the local, the (re-)pro-
duction of social persons and societies, the complex relations between the
symbolic and the social order, social critique and the construction of knowl-
edge(s), and the relations between gender, c1ass, race and regional or ethnic
origin or affiliation). InstitutionaIly, the integrative enterprise in Women's
and Gender Studies is meant to base research as weIl as education and curric-
ula at MA and Ph.D. levels on genuinely interdisciplinary endeavors and to
take every effort to facilitate communication, joint teaching and scholarly
collaboration within and beyond the Department of Gender Studies
Central European University (CEU) is an ideal locus for developing
graduate education of this type and scholarship relevant for international and
regional Women's and Gender Studies. CEU is an international, private uni-
versity with ca. 700 graduate students enrolled in degree studies in the hu-
manities and social sciences leading to internationally accredited degrees
(mostly in the US) at MA and Ph.D. levels. 2 The student body of CEU is
recruited fram aIl countries of Central Eastern Europe and increasingly from
other "non-Western" regions. CEU is located inteIlectuaIly and geographi-
cally on the edge between contrasting patterns and experiences of social and
cultural change within a variety of European and global hierarchies and con-
flicts. In this sense, there is a particular potential for CEU to promote debate
between divergent scholarly traditions and perspectives and to foster the
production of socially relevant knowledge.
The Gender Studies Department at CEU is a postgraduate program in
Gender Studies which offers an MA and a Ph.D. degree. In addition, the
Department serves as an organizational base for non-degree studies in various
forms, as weIl as for research and other activities in the field. In the following
outline I will summarize important elements of the institutional, academic,
and curricular rationale for developing Women's and Gender Studies at CEU,
given the background described above.

bled during the transformation process and consisting of Maria Adamik, Erzsebet Barat,
Gisela Bock, Heike Fleßner, Sally Humphreys, Gabor Klaniczay, and Björn Wittrock. The
Statement acquired its final form after substantial reworking on the basis of these discus-
sions and in making use of a number of written suggestions by Erzsebet Barlit and Sally
Humphreys. I am grateful for all of these contributions. This artic\e is in large parts based
on the Statement 0/ Purpose, which can be found in its final version and in fulllength under
2 For more information see Besides the Department of Gender Studies there are
Departments for Legal Studies, Environmental Sciences, Philosophy, Social Studies and
Anthropology, International Relations and European Studies, Political Science, and His-
tory. Most recently, there is a Ph.D. Pro gram in Applied Mathematics, too.
Women's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 63

1. Integrative Approaches to Women's and Gender Studies

Gender Studies in Perspective

Throughout the last decades Gender Studies has undoubtedly unfolded as one
of the most innovative and dynamically developing subject fields in the hu-
manities and social sciences. The emergence of Women's and Gender Stud-
ies in itself disc\oses one of the hidden agendas of modern academy, namely
the fact that the production of knowledge and the development of academy in
modernity is to be read not only as an intellectual history but also as a his-
torical, societal process. The emergence and institutionalization of Women's
and Gender Studies is but one element in a far-reaching process of change
characterizing academy and society today. In recent decades, the interest in
understanding the humanities and social sciences as a historical phenomenon,
i.e. in understanding the very key categories and modes of narration of both
as being based on conventionally overlooked presuppositions and being his-
torically constructed and situated, has grown remarkably. By inquiring into
the influence and status of gender at all stages and at all levels of knowledge
production, Women's and Gender Studies have overtly and consciously con-
tributed to these processes of destabilization (as they are often called in the
jargon within the field) and reshaping of academy today.
Gender Studies does not presuppose a fixed set of possible forms or ways
of constructing gen der in society and culture which would be accompanied
by a fixed set of possible consequences. Women's and Gender Studies as
subject fields relevant to inquiry into society, culture and human life over
time and space do not base the production of (seemingly universal) knowl-
edge on historically and geographically unique patterns of gender relations,
i.e. patterns characteristic for specific social and cultural systems. In assum-
ing, instead, the variability of the construction of gender over time and space,
Women's and Gender Studies allow for the integrative - and also truly com-
parative, i.e. relational and flexible as weil as category-based - analysis of
capitalist and non-capitalist, European and non-European societies and cul-
tures. In order to realize this potential and thus engage in the production of
socially relevant knowledge, Gender Studies is epistemologically and theo-
retically built on various levels of self-reflection, informing its scholarly
endeavors. The unfolding of Gender Studies is accompanied by a need to
understand the very societal roots of the successful introduction of gender as
a "useful category of analysis" into academy today and by analysis of the
very impact of these changing perspectives in academy on the social world.
This integration of a reflective juncture with regard to its societal roots en-
ables Gender Studies to integrate diversified experience and knowledge on a
equal basis and thus to foster the overcoming of hierarchy and asymmetry in
the dialogue among group- and region-specific perspectives. A second layer
64 Susan Zimmermann

of self-reflection in Gender Studies comes to the forefront in the process of

producing gender-relevant knowledge in the ways described above and im-
plies the readiness to develop perspectives overcoming the focus (be it in
affirmation and/or critical distance) on the "West" as a pre-given point of
reference for all scholarly perspective. At the same time Gender Studies is
making efforts to develop alternative, consciously negotiated value-judge-
ments, as its critique of male-centered "universalism" and "objectivism" will
not acquiesce in serving as a fragmentary mosaic of particularistic group
interest and experience.
Major scholarly strategies for negotiating partial knowledge include - on
the epistemologicallevel - endeavors to systematically integrate "standpoint"
and "value" into scholarship itself (instead of accounting for their existence
and influence on the production of knowledge as an extern al, non-scholarly
factor). These strategies also include - on a theoretical and methodological
level - interdisciplinarity and comparativism, once Women's and Gender
Studies take seriously the endeavor to combine the critique of androcentrism
and eurocentrism within an analytical framework allowing for diversity and
integration. Comparativism as a (by definition) theoretically loaded, but at
the same time very practically oriented and pragmatic research strategy, al-
lows for a negotiated balance between context and the particular on the one
hand, and integrative theoretical perspectives on the other. Comparativsm
demands caution against hasty generalization and enables to focus on the
typical in the particular and on the particular in the seemingly general. Inter-
disciplinarity is of pivotal importance in Women's and Gender Studies, as
many issUes critical to feminist scholars fall to the margins or borderlands of
any given discipline's subject of study. Themes and problems investigated in
Gender Studies have not neatly conformed to disciplinary parameters. There-
fore in constructing their subject of study and in pursuing research, Women's
and Gender Studies have not only been creating new organizing concepts and
skills, they have also been developing ways and forms of integrating subject
fields and disciplines formerly strictly divided from each other and have thus
established basic new metaphors and paradigms. By making visible important
"missing linkages" among aspects of human life, social structures, and moti-
vations, Gender Studies has been rebuilding the prevailing structures of the
construction of knowledge, wh ich have been otherwise based on the exclu-
sion of important dimensions of human experience from the body of knowl-
edge accumulated in the diverse disciplines.

Gender Studies as a Subject Field of a New Type

In "classical" academy, disciplines have been built on the assumption that

their subject fields are independent from one another. It thus became difficult
- for example - to ask how economy, politics, and society were interwoven
Wornen 's and Gender Studies in a Global-Locai Perspective 65

with each other, how these subject fields were related to history and shaped
by history, how the social world was constructed in the non-Western parts of
the globe, and how the ascent of modernity (in the "West") was bound to
global developments and relations. Most of the "classical" disciplines also
presupposed man, or the subject as a fixed and universal category, while at
the same time denying subject status to those who did not fit into their very
model of the individual as a universal unit of scholarly analysis. On an insti-
tutional level too, modern academy, emerging in the 18 th century, was built
on ensuring separation: separation from other systems and cultures of schol-
arship and separation from the social world - drawing demarcation lines be-
tween subject fields in order to be safe from intruders from outside. As a
consequence of these and other layers and dynamics of partialization and
separation scholars were in the past and are in the present confronted with a
massive scholarly and institutionalized resistance of the academic establish-
ment to "putting the pieces together" and developing self-reflective views on
one's own (partial) perspective.
Developed in a carefully considered and adequate way, W omen' sand
Gender Studies occupy an important place in the very heart of endeavors to
overcome this resistance and to develop new, integrative perspectives. If the
production of knowledge is a socially and historically rooted and embedded
process and if the production of more socially relevant knowledge is in-
tended, then transgressing the borders between the tradition al academic dis-
ciplines and creating institutional space for developing critical, reflexive
social theory, scholarship and education are of utmost importance. Institu-
tionally, theoretically, and methodologically Gender Studies is located at the
cross-roads of these ongoing, complex processes and may claim - with all the
qualifications which need to be made - the status of an inclusive subject field
in its own right. Women's and Gender Studies negotiate diversified perspec-
tives and constructions of (wo)men, and' by analyzing gender as
(mis)represented, marginalized or ignored in all "classical" disciplines create
new approaches consciously built on integration and consciously constructed
at cross purposes to all "classical" disciplines. Apart from other emerging
interdisciplinary fields of study, Gender Studies does not focus on social and
cultural phenomena whieh have been restricted to a specific historical period
or to a specific geographie area. As far as aeademic and non-aeademic
knowledge reaehes, there is no soeiety or eulture in history which has not
been shaped by systems of gender relations and speeifie forms of eonstruet-
ing, deeonstructing, and representing gender. In this sense, Gender Studies is
a truly universal subject field.
Gender Studies does not eall for diseipline-Iess knowledge, but reeog-
nizes that the essentially one-sided and seleetive nature of diseiplinary
knowledge has to be eomplemented by a eritieal dialogue that draws on a
wide range of disciplinary skills and seleetively mobilizes its tools in refer-
enee to speeifie problem areas. It is in this sense that Women's and Gender
66 Susan Zimmermann

Studies participate in an ongoing process of restructuring the production of

knowledge on aglobai scale. In this process, inherited boundaries in academy
and between academy and society are becoming destabilized and permeable.
Academy as such is undergoing a process of fragmentation and destabiliza-
tion, reflected in parochialism, repetitiveness, and shallowness in much
scholarly production and debate, unaware of its own historical roots and ties
to societal change. Looking at the same process the other way around, it
appears as an opening up of academy, involving the emergence of new inter-
stitial areas of theoretical reflection and scholarly inquiry with strong poten-
tials for the development of new types of (not by definition, but potentiaIly)
socially relevant knowledge and new epistemologies. Women's and Gender
Studies is one of these new areas. It is not simply a new subject field but
rather a subject field of a new type.

2. "Points of Juncture"

Scholarship and teaching in the Department of Gender Studies at CEU inso-

far as they are intended to translate these and related basic insights into more
concrete themes in research and course work need to refer to overarchingfoci
or "points of juncture," putting into perspective more specific themes. The
"points of juncture" mayaiso serve to create c1ear-cut points of reference for
the development of various forms of academic and research cooperation. The
"points of juncture" may change over the years (for example in response to
the interest of new facuIty, or new developments in Women's and Gender
Studies in general). Taken together however, they should always underpin the
basic purpose: to develop integrative scholarly approaches in Women's and
Gender Studies, combining scholarly excellency with an interest in social
critique and the aim of producing socially relevant knowledge. The "points of
juncture" or foGi allow the development of dialogically interrelated perspec-
tives across the whole field of Women's and Gender Studies, corresponding
to the experience, academic background, and interests of faculty and stu-
dents, and thus also facilitating interdisciplinarity . In view on the one hand,
of present trends and shortcomings in Women's and Gender Studies (inter-
national and regional) and on the other, of the societal and scholarly rele-
vance of Gender Studies - mainly with regard to the countries of Central and
Eastern Europe - there is one "point of juncture" which is of pivotal impor-
tance. This is the question of how to construct Gender Studies in view of
divergent but interrelated ways of shaping gender, in both the core regions
and in the marginalized regions of our fundamentally hierarchical world-
system, and in view of the divergent experience and interest of women within
and between these regions.
Wornen 's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 67
How to Construct Gender Studies: Wornen - Core - Periphery

If Women's and Gender Studies is being defined as integrative in its schol-

arly perspectives on local, regional, global, dominant and non-dominant
structures, cultures and interests, it is of decisive importance that we reflect
on global asymmetries and hierarchies in the process of the production of
knowledge. Gender Studies, with a focus on diversified patterns of social and
cultural change in general and on Central Eastern Europe in particular, faces
the challenge of integrating its critique of androcentrism with a critique of
eurocentric perspectives and epistemologies. Whereas androcentrism has
presupposed the male subject and Eurocentrism "the West" as "universal"
norms, both have ignored or misconceived the relation between distance and
involvement of the subject in the process of producing knowledge. Women's
and Gender Studies have often focused on analyzing the concealment of
asymmetrical and hierarchical gender relations in academy, society and cul-
ture, a concealment which has taken place under the guise of the postulated
universality of the (male) subject shaping much of the social sciences and
humanities. The critique of Eurocentrism has concentrated on replacing the
assumed universality of rationalization and modernization with diversified
views on social and cultural relations and developments in space and time.
Both androcentrism and Eurocentrism inform dominant scholarly discourses
c\osely related to social, cultural, and intellectual traditions and perspectives
rooted in the experience and interest of dominant social groups in the core
countries and in various articulations from peripheral regions of the globe.
With regard to gender in Central and Eastern Europe, research and con-
ceptual frameworks with a focus on combining the critique of andro- and
Eurocentrisms are not abundant. Much of mainstream research in the social
sciences and humanities - inc\uding Gender Studies in relation to Central
Eastern Europe - has been caught in the unproductive scholarly dualism of
looking at the region and the "woman question" in the region as something
"backward" in comparison to the "West" or alternatively as something "spe-
cific" or specifically "different", stemming from "indigenous" factors which
by definition cannot be analyzed or interpreted in integrative or comparative
frameworks. Efforts to "mainstream" Central and East-European women's
interests and perspectives, or attempts to abandon the knowledge(s) of the
core in favor of some "distinctly" East-European patterns of assumptions and
knowledge(s) would, however, amount to Gender Studies' acceptance of the
determination of its (pre-given) place within the larger/global structure of a
still androcentric and Eurocentric world.
Scholarship, research, and course work involving How to Construct
Gender Studies: Wornen - Core - Periphery as a "point of juncture" takes as
its task the systematic development of perspectives leading beyond these and
related, problematic, analytical frameworks. This implies that W omen' sand
68 Susan Zimmermann

Gender Studies proceed from their critique of gender-blind, masculinist con-

ceptualizations of a number of fundamental micro- and macro-categories in
the social sciences and humanities, to a conscious endeavor to give equal
status to different experiences and interests in a common analytic and inter-
pretative framework when constructing knowledge. Gender Studies thus can
make itself an advocate of a growing influence of scholarly discourse and
perspectives rooted in experience from the inner and outer peripheries, i.e. in
non-dominant interests articulated within and outside "Western" contexts on
the production and construction of knowledge all over the world.
Perspectives and approaches in Women's and Gender Studies which
have the potential for meeting related scholarly demands involve a number of
considerations. What is central is the idea that we live in a world in which
gender has been shaped by and is shaping patterns and dynamics of domi-
nance, resistance, and change in a variety of muIti-layered, interrelated and/or
conflicting settings which can be grasped in an inclusive way only from a
global perspective. In this sense gender has to be conceptualized as an intrin-
sically entangled and integrative category at various levels. We have to ask
how the "stories" of gender, class, race, religion, sexual orientation, and
ethnic, national or regional origin or affiliation are interwoven in a variety of
ways. We have to interpret and to explain the shared "stories" of these cate-
gories through inquiring into how they are embedded in and form part of the
often hierarchical and violent, but also ambiguous interactions of local, na-
tional, regional, and transnational influences, interests, and actors.
What is needed are explanatory paradigms allowing for the "decentering"
of the center, foci on local relations and dynamics and on difference and
diversity while at the same time inquiring into how difference, location, and
homogenization are conditions and products of global economic, social, cul-
tural, and political relations. To formulate it differently: what is needed is a
rethinking of difference through connection and analytical frameworks which
allow dynamics of homogenization, differentiation, and local social change to
be interrelated from agIobaI perspective.
To be sure: paradigms like the ones touched upon above do not intend to
establish a perspective on "the whole" which can show it "as it is". Every
choice of a perspective is rooted in social and cuItural experience and in
specific interests, and every perspective implies specific types and ways of
shedding light on "the whole", wh ich therefore appears in specific colors and
does not show everything "as it is". We cannot avoid these "specific" charac-
teristics of our perspectives, but we can at best (and scholars in aIl times,
disciplines, and pI aces could at best) account for our reasons for choosing
those perspectives over others. Such interrelated endeavors to acknowledge
different experiences and different interests as an essential starting point of
and factor in negotiating and shaping the production of knowledge need not
end up in the total fragmentation of knowledge. Instead they can, and should,
shape Gender Studies as one of the crucial bases for developing new, non-
Women's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 69
hierarehieal, relational and non-marginalizing perspeetives - perspeetives on
the way in whieh hierarehieal and asymmetrical differentiation and homog-
enization is (re)produeed along the lines of a variety of eategories in the sin-
gle global system of today and the more eonfined social and eultural systems
of the past.
The development of integrative Gender Studies with an interest in ques-
tions of eomparison, and in eoneeptualizing differenee and eonflieting per-
speetives on global and regional levels has not gone uneontested. Not mueh
attention has been given to these types of questions in Women's and Gender
Studies related to Central and Eastern Europe. In other regions as weil, only a
minority of the seholarship in the expanding field of Women's and Gender
Studies makes the often hierarehieal entangling of the global and the loeal an
integral part or indeed a foeus of analysis. There are, instead, tendeneies
nourished by seholarly development in/on eore and non-eore regions alike,
towards simply "adding" studies from and about the inner and outer periph-
eries in the global system to the mainstream(s) in Women's and Gender
Studies. There are also tendeneies towards "deeentering" the eenter while no
Ion ger investigating global faetors and aetors influeneing and being influ-
eneed by loeal diversity. As a eonsequenee, quite a few of the new interna-
tional and transnational Gender Studies tend to rely unreflexively, implieitly
or explieitly on worn out notions of baekwardness and of the eatehing-up
development of regional, national, and loeal women's movements, women's
history, and Gender Studies, or simply to add the "other" (region, part of the
globe, women with divergent histories and interests ete.) into predefined
If Women's and Gender Studies wish to understand the eomplexity of
gen der espeeially in Central Eastern Europe by eombining the eritique of
andro-and Euroeentrism, they have to understand soeiety and eulture in the
region as a produet of the often unequal entangling, intertwining, and transfer
between global and loeal forees. In turn Women's and Gender Studies, in
refleeting the problems of Central Eastern Europe from these and related
perspeetives, eontain very important potential for developing new under-
standings and relevant forms of eritique - critiques of the past and present of
a Europe whose "ather half' is intrinsically interwoven with the patterns and
dynamies of European and global hierarchies and resistance.

Related "Points of Juncture"

There are a variety of "points" of juncture" which eould be dialogieally inter-

related with the problem of How to Construct Gender Studies: Warnen -
Core - Periphery in a very produetive way. To mention only two of them,
there is first the broad theme of "Production" and "Reproduction": Social
Systems, Social Grouping, Social Change. "Productive" and "reproduetive"
70 Susan Zimmermann'
activities have by no means always been clearly separated from eachother:
Instead they have been embedded within, and related to each other in varied
ways, subject to and creating a great variety of human organizational modes;
social systems, and patterns of social and cultural change. We do not know of;
any system of labor division in society in which gender (defined: in this
context as inc1uding "productive" and "reproductive" capacities of both
sexes) has not played a crucial role. All social systems have ascrih~dlat least
some connotation of being male or female to certain types, fields, spheres of!
work (defined as inc1uding human activity in both the societal spheres related
to production and to reproduction) - however flexible, indefinite and'
transgressive these gendered divisions of labor may have been in some
systems or under specific circumstances. Inquiry into "work" (defined as
"production" and "reproduction") highlights important aspects of the relative
positions of men and women and consequent power structures in every given
place and social system. These positions had and have crucial implications
for the cultural and political status of both sexes, for their relation to states,
authorities, and power, and for agency in all of these realms. At the same
time many agents and actors in the process of social change have made
gender a key element in their endeavors to shape and change social systems,
making strategic use of and calling into question the existing gender division
of labor, or restructuring it. A focus on the shifting boundaries and relations
between "production" and "reproduction" in time and space as a "point of
juncture" in Women's and Gender Studies provides one of the crucial
entrances to develop our understanding of gender, hierarchy, and social and
cultural struggle in aglobaI perspective.
Another important and related "point of juncture" is inquiry into The
Practices 0/ Power: Discourse and Culture Materialized. In the last two
decades, scholarship with a focus on gender has performed a key role in the
deconstruction of the opposition(s) between materialist and idealist ap-
proaches, and between objectivity and subjectivity in the social sciences and
humanities. This, by implication, means not to presuppose that there is any
stable and pre-defined relationship between any form, type or system of rep-
resentations on the one hand, and a pre-existing reality on the other. How-
ever, while turning away from causal and unilinear modes and models of
analysis, the new perspectives leave uncertain the relation of discourse and
culture to the past and present structures they purport to represent. If we wish
to go beyond of this 'state of the art' we should engage in developing sys-
tematic understandings of the relationship between the social and the sym-
bolic and in integrating scholarly reflection on this question into social theo-
rizing or meta-narratives. This question must be addressed from both "sides",
i.e. by analyzing practices of representation as weIl as social processes and
patterns of social experience. This implies that agency is not to be theorized
on the basis of a voluntaristic and pre-defined concept of the self on the one
hand, or a concept of the self as being a thoroughly contingent cu 1-
Women 's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 71

tural/diseursive eonstruetion on the other. Instead, we need to explore the

soeial eonditions and psyehoanalytie dynamies of "intelligibility" and inter-
pellation, i.e. the network of partieular politieal, eeonomie and eultural prae-
tiees within whieh individuals eome to assurne a (gendered) identity. Theo-
rizing this proeess is one of the key elements in developing our understanding
of how the aeeess to power and resourees is being hierarehieally struetured
and gendered, and henee of eoneeptualizing ageney and identity as a resouree
for ehange.

3. Institutionalizing and Developing Women's and Gender


Aeademie interest and seholarly perspeetive need institutionalization as weil

as developing substantial edueational eapaeities in the aeademy. Strategies
for developing and ensuring both are manifold and closely interrelated with
eaeh other.

Strategies of Institutionalization

From what has been said above with regard to Gender Studies as a subjeet
field of a new type, it might be easily agreed that departments, as the eore
units of any university, are the "real" problem hindering the unfolding and
institutionalization of the new areas of interstitial knowledge. It is depart-
ments whieh serve as a substantial basis for the produetion and transmission
9f knowledge, far shaping the direetion and dynamics of the development of
knowledge produetion, for the affiliation of faeulty and the distribution of
resourees, for aeademic power and influenee, and for conveying important
symbolic messages related to the aeademie and social value of scholarship
and teaching. It is fundamentally departments who serve as a major basis for
independent research and teaching eapaeities. At the same time it is these
very departmentswho, representing (in most cases) the more "classical"
disciplines, serve as the strongholds of proteeting these disciplines against
intruders from outside and, more generally , of retaining dominant patterns in
the production and eompartmentalization of knowledge
Women's and Gender Studies, if it is to gain influence in the academy
and to realize its critical attitude towards these dominant patterns in the pro-
duction and organization of knowledge, must, on the one hand, aequire insti-
tutional independenee and equality with departments. On the other hand, and
at the same time, it must strengthen its transformative attitude in developing
eonscious strategies designed to eontribute to overcoming given patterns of
72 Susan Zimmermann
institutionalization in the aeademy. While this double goal and the related
strategie ambiguities, in prineiple, fundamentally shape every single ease of
institutionalizing Women's and Gender Studies in the aeademy, we should
not fee I advised to prefer or to rejeet partieular strategies of institutionaliza-
tion in any of these eases on the grounds of prineiples. We should, instead,
adopt pragmatie strategies reaeting in appropriate ways to a given institu-
tional setting. At CEU, for example, the rationale for enhaneing the institu-
tional status of Women's and Gender Studies was not based on eonsidera-
tions of Gender Studies as a viable diseipline, at least not as a diseipline de-
fined in the more traditional sense. Instead, the arguments supporting the
transformation of the then Program on Gender and Culture into today's
Department oi Gender Studies, were based on a number of pragmatie and
strategie eonsiderations related to institutional peeuliarities and eonstellations
of interest within the university.
What follows from the establishment of an autonomous and institutional
equal Department oi Gender Studies at CEU is, on the one hand, the possi-
bility to run full seale, independent graduate programs in Gender Studies on
the MA and Ph.D. levels. On the other hand and pertaining to (admittedly
modest) strategies of eontributing to the transformation of institutional
struetures in the aeademy, there is the need to seek dose eooperation and
exchange with other departments, and the Department of Gender Studies tries
to pursue a number of strategies in this regard.

Graduate Education in Wornen' sand Gender Studies

Graduate Women's and Gender Studies at CEU eonsist of the MA Program

in Gender Studies, the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender Studies, and
the Gender Speeialization within the Ph.D. Program of Comparative History
of Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe. In the following, I will give a
brief summary of the organization of the MA Program and a more detailed
deseription of the rationale of the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender
The MA Program in Gender Studies. The MA Program in Gender Stud-
ies offers abasie and eomprehensive graduate edueation in Gender Studies
with a foeus on interdiseiplinarity. The program aims at broadening and
deepening students' insight into Gender Studies as they emerge from various
diseiplines, and developing their awareness of the possibilities and fallaeies
of integrating these perspeetives into a new ensemble of methods, theories
and epistemologies. In produeing a substantial eohort of young intelleetuals
whose postgraduate edueation meets the highest international standards in
aeademy and who enter a variety of fields and institutions year by year, the
MA Program fulfills a erueial mission in the wh oIe region of Central Eastern
Europe. Students in the MA Program are required to develop their seholarly
Women 's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 73

perspectives substantially beyond their "horne disciplines" (degree acquired

on the undergraduate level) and their immediate fields of interest.
The MA Program in Gender Studies is a one year program built on a bi-
focal curriculum. In the Core Curriculum students take the c1asses on History
and Theory of Women's Movements and Feminism. Global and Local per-
spectives (4 credits) and on Introduction into the Epistemologies of Gender
Studies (2 credits). The elective courses are intended together to develop
knowledge and problem-orientation in the integrative field of interdiscipli-
nary Women's and Gender Studies. This goal is being reached by three basic
means. The elective curriculum favors c1asses focusing on perspectives and
problem areas of interdisciplinarity at a theoretical and methodological level
as weIl as in general on interdisciplinary approaches as put into scholarly
practice (for example courses related to the "points of juncture"). Co-teach-
ing of courses, namely by lecturers with divergent disciplinary backgrounds,
are welcome and institutionally supported in all cases. Finally, courses in the
elective curriculum are divided into three groups (namely c1asses with their
m~or focus on the symbolic; the social; and theory). Students have to take
c1asses from each group.
The Ph.D. Degree in Comparative Gender Studies. The future of Gender
Studies as a dynamically developing subject field depends critically upon the
establishment of transdisciplinary doctoral degree programs. Gender Studies
today suffers from the scarcity of sufficiently educated faculty combining
both solid knowledge in one of the more "c1assical" disciplines in the social
sciences and humanities, and truly transdisciplinary expertise and education,
research experience and perspective in Gender Studies. The "production" of
this new type of scholar is to be realized in carefully developed doctoral
degree programs in Gender Studies. Transdisciplinary education in Gender
Studies at the Ph.D. level is a precondition for developing inc1usive and inte-
grative curricula and courses in Gender Studies while at the same time al-
lowing for the necessary specialization of topics and research fields. It is also
crucial for supporting in-depth research and scholarship based on the appro-
priation and development by Ph.D. candidates of a set of methodological,
analytical, and theoretical skills crucial for putting basic purposes of Gender
Studies into scholarly practice. Genuinely transdisciplinary education at
Ph.D. level will meet with growing demands for specialists in Women's and
Gender Studies at undergraduate and graduate teaching level.
The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Comparative Gender Studies (if cho-
sen: Disciplinary Specialization added) is a 36-month program built on a
special emphasis upon integrative perspectives and comparative approaches.
This corresponds to the mission of the Gender Studies Department at CEU, to
promote new forms of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities. The
guiding idea of the Ph.D. Program is to intertwine theoretical and empirical
inquiry into gender as a problem formerly marginalized in academy, with
inquiry into diversified patterns of social and cultural change (namely in
74 Susan Zimmermann

Central-Eastern Europe) as a problem marginalized in the academy interna-

tionally. This will result in developing integrative and comparative perspec-
tives in Gender Studies of global and local relevance. The program seeks to
contribute to overcoming tendencies towards studying gender in a seemingly
a-historical and endlessly fragmented manner, with insufficient grounding in
analyses of institutions, social processes, and the material conditions of life.
The introduction of comparative and integrative perspectives and research
strategies into Gender Studies is one important, if pragmatic, tool in devel-
oping this type of scholarship. Comparativism allows for a combination of
deconstructing un-negotiated normatives informing scholarship and devel-
oping integrative perspectives built on understanding and analysis of simi-
larities, differences, relations, and entanglements between the compared
"cases" and the elements constitutive for building and defining them. To-
gether, comparative and integrative approaches (with their joci on inter-rela-
tion and inc1usion) essential to a new field of study such as Gender Studies,
are intended to both broaden the range of data and material to be considered
and to develop new questions (arising from hitherto marginalized perspec-
tives and areas of study) , without sacrificing standards of scholarly rigour.
The comparative-integrative perspective, broadly defined and global in out-
look, does not presuppose or define the "cases" chosen as research units inde-
pendent of each other. While not exc1uding independence as a possibility, the
comparative-integrative perspective focuses on exploring the possible relat-
edness of "cases" ( for example in transfer processes, as mutual, one-sided or
asymmetric patterns of influence, dependency and path dependency, to name
just a few). The comparative-integrative approach basically focuses on a
better understanding of the way in wh ich the interaction of local, regional,
and global forces and actors shape gen der in the chosen "cases" through the
lens of comparison.
The design of the Ph.D. Degree Program in Comparative Gender Studies
translates peculiarities of the outlook and mission of CEU as an institution of
higher education into specific strengths of perspective and organization of
doctoral degree studies. The international composition of students and (even
more so) of faculty makes the development of a doctoral degree program in
Gender Studies - promoting comparison and integration while insisting on
equal rights for different experiences and perspectives - highly promising
and reasonable.
Students who hold an internationally recognized MA or comparable de-
gree, inc1uding those from CEU, are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. Program in
Comparative Gender Studies. Requirements consist of the accumulation of 58
credits over three years of studies, the passing of the comprehensive exam at
the end of the first year of studies, and the defense of the doctoral disserta-
tion. Students entering the doctoral program are expected to designate the
areas in which they intend to concentrate their comparative-integrative stud-
ies. They have the opportunity to choose a specialization in one of the more
Women 's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 75

traditional disciplines within the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender

Studies. With regard to the comparative component of their studies (manda-
tory in the first year of studies), students construct two basic fields/areas
defined by geographic, historical, social, and cultural distance and relation-
ship. If the topic of the planned Ph.D. thesis is comparative (non-mandatory),
these broadly defined areas should correspond to the "cases" to be compared
in the thesis. If the Ph.D. thesis is not intended to be comparative, one of the
chosen, broadly defined areas of comparison should correspond to/include
the focus of the thesis, whereas the other should be designed in dialogue with
the supervisor and the Program Director in a suitable and adequate way.
Comparative studies should be designed in dialogue with pre-existing inter-
nal and external representations of the chosen fields/areas in scholarship in
the social sciences and humanities. In no case should huge regions (like for
example Central-Eastern Europe as a whole), entire civilizations, cultures,
social systems etc. be compared with other entities of similar or sm aller scale.
Instead, the "cases" to be compared are to be developed around and con-
cretely related to the topical focus of the thesis.
The first year of doctoral study, the probationary year, is devoted to
course work and intensive reading in preparation for a two-hour oral exami-
nation in comparative Gender Studies, focusing on the two areas/fields cho-
sen by the student and agreed upon by the supervisor and Director of Doc-
toral Studies. The course on Comparative Gender Studies (4 credits) given in
the fall term and based on contributions by at least two teachers with diver-
gent disciplinary backgrounds, is mandatory for all students. The course on
Research Approaches and Research Methods given in the winter term and
taught in co-operation of faculty is also mandatory. The remaining c1assroom
credits are to be acquired through selection from a range of elective courses
which are built on integrative perspectives in terms of methods and themes.
Courses from outside the Gender Studies Department shall be reasonably
chosen with regard to their disciplinary relevance and their relevance for the
student's field of interest and thesis topic. Students who have chosen a spe-
cialization in one of the more tradition al disciplines in the social sciences and
humanities are required to take at least 4 dass room credits from courses
given within the other departments or programs corresponding to this spe-
cialization (or cross-listed by these units and Gender Studies). In their Com-
prehensive Examination at the end of the first year the student is examined on
the basis of a set of specific topics within the bi-focal comparative frame-
The second year of study normally is devoted to research, in dose dia-
logue with the supervisor and other experts in the field. The third year of
study is devoted to writing the Ph.D. dissertation.
All third year students participate in the mandatory Ph.D. Research
Seminar where they formally present their dissertation and preliminary re-
sults to the peer group, the Director of Doctoral Studies, who organizes the
76 Susan Zimmermann

seminar, and the Ph.D. supervisor who is expected to attend the seminar of
his or her advisee. Also during the third year of study, students are required
to serve as teaching assistants in a master's level course in order to acquire
teaching experience.
The two thematic mandatory classes for students in their first year are
designed as folIows. The course on Comparative Gender Studies (4 credits) is
intended to develop the students' understanding of the use, implications,
aspects, and problems of developing and applying comparative and integra-
tive perspectives in the social sciences and humanities with a focus on Gen-
der Studies. The course introduces and critically debates theoretical ap-
proaches to comparison, including the introduction and discussion of typolo-
gies of comparisons, of theoretical and methodological questions relating to
'doing' comparison, and of the relation between comparative and integrative
scholarly perspectives with a focus on Gender Studies. In addition, some
examples ("masterpieces") of comparative and integrative research in the
social sciences and humanities are closely analyzed. A third and major focus
of the course is on a critical examination of results of comparative and inte-
grative research in major and exemplary fields of Gender Studies. Students
are required to develop critical readings of their own field of studies through
the lens of comparative and integrative approaches. The course on Research
Methods and Approaches in Gender Studies (2 credits) is designed to teach
students a variety of ways in wh ich research in Gender Studies may be con-
ducted. Not only "hands-on" methods, but the researcher's mindset as weil as
the theoretical considerations behind each paradigm will be discussed.

4. Research Strategies

Research being institutionally affiliated to the Gender Studies Department at

CEU is preferably based on the involvement of more than one scholar and
more than one academic (and funding) institution. The Department thus seeks
to foster interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity as weil as comparative and
integrative perspectives, both decisive tools for fulfilling the mission of the
Gender Studies Department at CEU. Research projects, for which the Gender
Studies Unit institutionally plays a key role, may preferably (but not neces-
sarily) be related to the "points of juncture" or serve as a starting point and
basis for developing new foci in the Gender Studies Department or involving
the Department. All potential priority research projects involving the Gender
Studies Unit are to be developed and evaluated with regard to three basic
criteria. They should make explicit their relevance for the elaboration of root
paradigms, theories and epistemologies in Gender Studies aiming at integra-
tive and transdisciplinary approaches. They should contribute to the devel-
Women's and Gender Studies in a Global-Local Perspective 77
opment of knowledge focusing on non-dominant patterns of change in the
global system and other social and cultural systems and on the question of
(non-)hierarchical and (a-)symmetrical relations in these systems. Finally,
they should clearly indicate their societal relevance in terms of translating
social critique into scholarly inquiry and scholarly inquiry into social cri-
Not only research, but also education in Women's and Gender Studies
informed by an endeavor to develop this new field of inquiry into an integra-
tive subject field should produce new types of knowledge intended to serve
the indivisible dignity, security and basic needs of humankind in a world of
limited resources.


Allen, Judith A., Kitch, Sally L.: Disciplined by disciplines? The need for an interdis-
ciplinary research mission in Women's Studies. In: Feminist Studies 24 (1998),
pp. 275-299 (See also the other contributions in this thematic issue of Feminist
Studies on education in Women's and Gender Studies on graduate and Ph.D. lev-
Bock, Gisela: Challenging dichotomies: perspectives on women's history. In: Offen,
Karen et a!. (Eds): Writing Women's History. International Perspectives.
Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991, pp. 1-23
Buck-Morss, Susan: Hegel and Haiti. In: Critical Inquiry 26 (2000), pp. 821-865
CEU History Department. Ph.D. Degree Program in Comparative History of Central,
Southeastem and Eastem Europe. Guidelines for Students of All Years. 2001
Hall, Stuart: When was 'the post-colonial'? Thinking at the limit. In: Chambers, lan,
Curti, Lidia (Eds): The Post-Colonial Question. Common Skies, Divided Hori-
zons. London, New York, 1996, pp. 242-260
Humphreys, Sally c.: Introduction: let' s hear it for the magpies. In: Humphreys, Sally
C. (Ed.): Cultures of Scholarship. Ann Arbor 1997, pp. 1-20
Narayan, Uma: Essence of culture and a sense of history: a feminist critique of cul-
tural essentialism. In: Narayan, Uma, Harding, Sandra (Eds.): Decentering the
Center. Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World.
Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press 2000, pp. 80-100
Samman, Khaldou: The limits of the classical comparative method. In: Review 24
(2001), pp. 533-573
Wallerstein, Immanuel et.a!.: Die Sozialwissenschaften öffnen. Ein Bericht der Gul-
benkian Kommission zur Neustrukturierung der Sozialwissenschaften. Frankfurt,
New York: Campus, 1996.
Wittrock, Bjöm: Social theory and intellectual history: rethinking the formation of
modemity. In: Engelstad, Fredrik, Kalleber, Ragnvald (Eds.): Social Time and
Social Change: Historical Aspects in the Social Sciences. Oslo 1999, pp. 187-232
Boiena Choluj

Gender Studies in Warsaw

Gender studies has been developing in Poland since 1995. This new course of
studies was established at the University of Warsaw. The decision to found a
program by the University of Warsaw Senate meant that gender studies
would be incorporated administratively but not financially into the university
structure as part of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Rehabilitation.
Problematically, this means that gen der studies can only survive through
outside financial support, and it should be stressed that the only sources of
funding available are from the West. In general, because women students are
not members of the wealthier social classes, we decided to charge students
the lowest possible fee (about 100 Euro). At the University of JagielIon in
Krakow, students enrolled in gender studies this year will most likely be
charged a much higher fee (about 450 Euro); however, there is concern that
the continuance of the program may be at risk as a resuIt of low enrolment.
The University of Warsaw's Gender Studies Program is culturally ori-
ented and interdisciplinary. The four-year program is designed for the con-
tinuing education of professionals. Each semester students must attend and
complete a minimum of three seminars out of a possible ten selections. Upon
completion of the program, the students receive a degree with the blessings
of the Ministry for National Education, which is a paradox indeed, given that
this ministry has absolutely no concept of what kind of program we have
realized. In comparison, the Krakow Gender Studies Program lasts one year,
is a supplementary course of study, and has a humanities orientation with
emphasis on film ~md art. Both university programs have the problem that
they do not enjoy the necessary financial institutionalization. Without a
change in university policy, it remains impossible to establish an independent
gender studies program without the official permission of the ministry.
It is interesting that gen der studies in Poland did not originate from a
women's studies debate. Moreover, in Poland there are research groups,
option al seminars at the universities of W arsaw, Poznan, and Lodz as weIl as
special programs on women-related topics arranged by NGOs - but no spe-
cific women's studies programs. Increasing numbers of texts, emerging from
the disciplines of history, sociology and literature, are being published in
80 Bo:iena Choluj

which research on women's present, past, and the roles they play in literature
are being set forth. Information that has been forgotten or suppressed con-
cerning women in the past is now being acknowledged and saved for the
future. And, in this way, women's studies is necessary because there is a
plethora of topics and information in need of discovery and research.
The impact this material will have on Polish culture remains unclear.
There is no programmatic objective for this research. While non-govern-
mental organizations are fundamentally concerned with political issues, our
focus is on such matters as changing Polish laws that regulate women in the
workplace, family law, and abortion. Simultaneously, the category of gender
is now beginning to be used in analyzing Polish culture - clearly a success of
gender studies. Other cultural phenomena, like "the myth of the Polish
Mother," are being subsequently deconstructed. Analyzing the myth not only
develops a critique of women's traditional role but also questions the whole
set of the most important national values - patriotism, worshipping of sons,
and unconditional self-sacrifice for family and state.
This analysis is going on in our seminars and conferences. The most im-
portant ones are organized by eFKa, a women's foundation in Krakow, by
philosopher Slawomira Wa1czewska and by scholar of German literature
Beata Kozak. Currently, papers on these issues have been published in a
number of edited volumes. As you will have realized, political transforma-
tions in Poland after the downfall of communism can be characterized as
"things happening at different times all at once." Several tendencies that
developed in the West since the early seventies are being practiced and real-
ized, sometimes only experimented with. But their followers, until today,
have not developed a discussion. Consequently, the state of the art is that
Polish researchers use the repertoire of Western feminists, adjust it to the
situation in Poland, or position themselves towards Western ideas.
As long as there is not an internal Polish feminist debate, there have to be
serious doubts about the future of Polish feminism. The internal Polish femi-
nist debate is starting very slowly: there are both decisive attendants of Butle-
rian concepts of gen der difference as weIl as the smaller group of essential-
ists. I would like to stress here that in Poland Judith Butler is understood in a
political way. This is due to the strong connection between academia and
NGOs. Scholars teach Butler's ideas as those creating new spaces to evidence
differences that were taboo for long periods of time. Due to the revaluation of
the subversive lesbians and other marginalized groups of women, singles (of
which there are also growing numbers in Poland) have for example been
encouraged to integrate into the women's movement.
Butler's suggestion to understand gender difference as a cultural con-
struct and as a result of power discourses opens the opportunity to look criti-
cally at what seemed to be unchangeable, to question it, to reinterpret and to
change it. The cold culture, wh ich Polish culture seems to be, excludes itself
from new developments, shuts itself off from outside influences, and tries to
Gender Studies in Warsaw 81

secure its structures permanently, e.g. the new restrictive abortion law. As
such strategies of cultural reproduction are developed in the sphere of social
policy, each and every deconstruction of traditional contexts is a political act.
If you look at women's activities in NGOs (of which there are three hun-
dred altogether in Poland), it is possible to claim that they pursue a political
strategy representing different groups/ categories of women without looking
for a common feminist subject/ ac tor. Resentments against ideologies, devel-
oped as a result of experiences with the lang lasting communist regime, may
have the result that we refrain from any debate concerning the political sub-
ject of feminism, debates that are very intensely carried out in the US and in
We began the gender studies program in Warsaw in 1995 with thirty stu-
dents. Today there are one hundred eighty students in total. Otherwise, there
are also many students pursuing other degrees who are taking additional
seminars in our program that correspond to their specific areas of study. Our
faculty is comprised of part-time instructors. To date, more than thirty spe-
cialists, including two men, have taught in our program. They are faculty
members at the universities of Warsaw, Poznan, and Wroclaw. Every second
to third semester our teaching staff rotates, and we are continually inviting
new scholars to teach. As a result, the instructors who have taught in our
program, who have developed and realized the didactical category of gender,
can now further develop their research and teaching of gender in there own
horne university departments. The idea behind this approach is that gender
research will not only take place in a gender studies program but will be
integrated into other disciplines. This is our way of overcoming the organiza-
tional problem of bringing gender studies into the mainstream.
Apart from institution al problems and political interpretations of Judith
Butler' s work, there is still another component that Polish gender studies
shares with the West - the aspect of interdisciplinarity. We are trying to real-
ize interdisciplinary principles by offering ten seminars every semester from
a variety of disciplines. Many of these seminars are team taught by two in-
structors. However, until now we have yet to achieve the theoretical or meth-
odological tenets of interdisciplinary study. It is especially problematic be-
cause in Poland students specialize in one area of study. Crossover between
disciplines is not being practiced or encouraged. But having also taught as a
member of the Cultural Studies Department at Europa Universität Viadrina in
Frankfurt/Oder, I can attest to the difficulties of interdisciplinarity, even in a
country where studying in multiple disciplines has been standard practice for
years. This is a topic I would like to put forth for discussion. As far as I
know, at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin students are required to attend
courses in other disciplines during the course of their studies. And yet, even
with this, interdisciplinarity study is still not accomplished.
FinaIly, I would like to pose a question concerning the canon of gender
studies and research. I reject to imagine a gender studies instructor lecturing
82 Botena Choluj
from a lectem in front of the cIass. From my point of view, gender studies
requires teaching via analysis and discussion in seminars. But students are
increasingly requesting lectures that not only address the tools of gen der
inquiry but also report the most important findings of the discipline. This is
partially achieved by lecture series, but this remains problematic due to frag-
Publications conceming gender studies in literature show an ongoing
search for connections between women' sand gender studies but reveal little
reflection on gender research. I am not a fan of canonization and textbooks;
therefore, I have serious reservations about these student expectations, which
cIearly result from the university operating more like a school. However, I
have witnessed similar expectations even in Germany, where universities
have made considerable effort to eliminate school-like teaching methods in
the academy. I have observed a tendency among German academics to offer
increasing numbers of overview lectures, which, in my opinion, is a means of
paralysis for any new discipline. Perhaps I am too critical, and this too is
what I would like to discuss.
Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

Gender and Power - The European Union as a

Masculine Project of Supranational Govemment


This paper explores the supranational power structure of the European Union
(EU), which in the current political debate is often characterized as a political
regime "sui generis." Drawing upon international discourses on the legitima-
tional deficit of the EU, this analysis tries to throw some light on the dynam-
ics of the inner power balance and the inter-organizational bargaining sys-
tems as new manifestations of supranational politics. The thesis will be ad-
vanced that from the beginnings in the early fifties, the European Community
can be characterized as a masculine project of elite governance. The essential
issue of the democratic deficit refers not only to institutional and procedural
matters but also contains a gender dimension. The analysis focuses on the
question whether the (self) identification of the EU as a "club," a notion that
in the sociological and economical interpretation is associated with separa-
tion, graduated rights, and discrimination, has effects for the theory and prac-
tice of gender equality in the EU.
To get a better understanding of the subtle mechanisms of exclusion and
marginalization of women, the specific European forms of lobbying, neocor-
poratist governance, and clientelism that have developed in the last decades
are illuminated in a gender-sensitive investigation. In particular, the specific
forms of personnel recruitment for the European Commission are reviewed.
In the context of the commission, we find various practices of co-optation
that are applied simultaneously. It seems that the cumulation of non-demo-
cratic forms of personnel selection may explain why women are widely un-
derrepresented in the higher-ranking levels of the European bureaucracies.

Theoretical Orientations and Main Questions

In my attempt to mine the masculine characteristics of the European Com-

munity, I have drawn upon various theories, such as the theories of interna-
tional relations (Wallace 1996; Streeck 1998), international political econ-
omy (Cox 1998), the economic theory of the club (McGuire 1988), network
84 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

governance approaches (Liebert 1994), and the theory of gen der democracy.
The objective here is not to offer a summary of all relevant writing but to
outline some conceptual ideas for the following discussion of the EU institu-
tional dynamics and the ideology and practices around gender equality. In the
neofunctionalist debate, the leaders of all relevant political groups, top civil
servants, and, particularly, interest groups are seen as the crucial political
actors with a view to European integration. Network analysis, in particular,
seems suitable for understanding elite networks and inter-organizational
bargaining systems. The formal paradigms of institutionalist theories are, in
this approach, enlarged with a view to the inclusion of informal structures
and the throwing of light on inner power circ1es (Marceau 1996: 2274).
Of interest in this context are questions like the following: How open or
c10sed - also from a gender-specific point of view - are the political and
economic elites of EU member states? Which elites dominate? And, what
influence do interest associations and lobbying groups have? Until now, little
attention has been paid to the social backgrounds and the careers of such
managers and the paths leading to the top of European business hierarchy.
And, there is also only fragmented information about the composition and
social characteristics of the top ci vii servants in the administrative bodies of
the EU (Marceau 1996: 2275). Here there is a broad field for research in
which up to now - as far as I know - there have been no gender-sensitive
investigations (Schunter-Kleemann 1998).

Transformations - From Patriotic "Men's Bonds" to

Supranational "Clubs"

With the notion "men's bond," the political scientists Eva Kreisky and Birgit
Sauer have introduced an innovative concept into political science to reveal
"maleness as a system," which historically has been inscribed into the struc-
tures of the nation states. Kreisky and Sauer trace how the modern bureau-
cratic structures continue to exc1ude women in a covert way under the cam-
ouflage of democratization (Kreisky 1995, Kreisky/Sauer 1995). Referring to
this concept, the institutional interlocking and the institution al dynamics of
the EU are illuminated here in a gender-sensitive way - a political system
that is not astate but a historically new union of national states. The main
questions of the analysis center on the following problems: How can the
political system of the EU be described from a gender perspective? Can
relationships be established between the economic and political power elites
and the specific forms of male power in Europe? And, how does the EU
mediate between the interests of capital and the interests of patriarchy?
Recalling that the two hundred year old European his tory of national crises
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 85

and transnational wars was powered by the various men's bond cultures of
the European nation-states, the project of European integration can be studied
under this lens as an effort to bind the hitherto strictly patriotic men's unions
to common European ideals and to amalgamate them into a new transnational
fraternity and "community of joint values."
It seems as if in the post-Second World War period the ideas of a mixed
economy and of institution al interlocking made possible the transnational
coalition of the West European elites. Since the beginnings of the 80s, the
neo-liberalist doctrines of strict market integration have inspired the Euro-
pean elites. Thus, one could say that the extreme patriotic idolization ofthe
own nation-state, wh ich was symptomatic for the martial men's unions of the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has been replaced in the last decade by an
extreme masculine ideology - the "sanctification of the market." Under this
premise, the European unification was, on the one hand, the historical new
experiment of a transnational interlocking of enterprises, economies, and
political institutions, and, on the other hand, of melting the respective troupes
d' elites into new supranational bureaucracies. French "state-nobility" (Bour-
dieu) and mason brothers, Italian padroni and mafiosi, the "creme" of Ger-
man business, English establishment, and all the other men's bonds had to be
lodged under the roof of a common manor house ("Herrenhaus").
It is obvious that this enterprise would have to face difficulties, setbacks,
and animosities. This could be the reason why the "irreversibility" of the
integration process has been asserted again and again, the last time on the
occasion of the European Monetary Union (EMU). This indicates that the
"great European solidarity" is still seen as unstable and precarious. There are
even some commentators who are concerned that the union could fall to
pieces. German ex-chancellor Kohl's stirring dictum that " the success of
EMU is a question ofwar and peace in Europe" hints at these deeply antago-
nistic and diverging interests of the "political classes" of the memberstates.
The ongoing debates on national sovereignty and the repeated evocation of
the common "European identity" signal that the transnational fraternity up to
now is seen as unstable and imbalanced.

The Economic Theory of the "Club"

The term "men's club," used in a more metaphoric and ironical sense to char-
acterize the European unification (Schunter- Kleemann 1990), proved to have
more explanatory power in the progress of my studies on the EU than thought
in the beginning. It is absolutely fitting to characterize the specific modes of
transnational networking of cooperating and simultaneously competing male
elites in the EU. The term "men's club" allows for differentiation between
86 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

the supranational project European Union from a "men's bond," as

mentioned above - a form of fraternity bound emotionally to the nation-state.
In the course of my research, I chanced upon a field of economic research
called "Club Theory." The "Economic Theory of the Club" is a
comparatively young tradition of science that developed in the framework of
the game theory and the financial sciences in the sixties.
A "club" is seen as an organization that offers a shared collective good to
its members exclusively, defraying the cost of the good from member's pay-
ments. The club theory operates with the terms of "insider" and "outsider."
There are "closed doors" for non-members, and the questions of "who with
whom" are discussed along with whether the entry into the club is free or
restricted. The theory of clubs finds its strongest application in the analysis of
the formation of economic power blocs and of economic regionalization
(McGuire 1988: 454).
In the meanwhile, the sophisticated club theory has developed into vari-
ous directions. It is striking that it uses the same notions and theorems that
political science has developed in the last decades to analyze and criticize
power structures that discriminate against women. In the theoretical frame-
work of the game theory, however, these theorems are used in an affirmative
way; everything is possible; discrimination or non-discrimination are only
options under different economic calculations. The European integration
frequently provides the material to illustrate the club theory (Bertholdl
Donges 1997: 501). Furthermore, the fact is surprising that the theorems and
notions of the club theory coincide with the interpretations of the day to day-
EU policy-making as weIl as of the "great bargains" of institutional reform.
In this context, the club theory tries to explain how the EU member states, in
spite of rivalries and conflicting interests, come to agreements in the
negotiations (Bilger 1996: 181). Also weIl known political scientists like Eric
Hobsbawm (1996: 40) and Johan Galtung (1998: 205) are labelling the EU as
a "club": "The EU is apparently the Union of West Europeans, of which only
Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are not interested in being members. If one
wants to become a club member, like in a golf or country club, one should try
to become similar to the existing members. The majority of the EU-members
are also members of the NATO. And NATO members have NATO arms,
what can normally be identified with US equipment. Therefore buy US
weapons, to buy your way into NATO and accept NATO in order to become
a member of the EU." (Galtung 1998: 205)
But also high-ranking representatives of the European Commission and
the European Parliament themselves like to speak of themselves as represen-
tatives of the "club" (Kinkel 1998: 22; Haensch 1994: 19): "The European
Union is not astate and will not be astate. The union is more than a
confederation, but no federal state. The accession to this community is not an
accession to an alliance, where one meets in the midst, but the candidates join
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 87

a "club," which has its own fixed rules." (Interview with Klaus Haensch,
former president of the European Parliament, 1994: 19)
Furthermore, the strategic discussions on the future enlargement of the
EU or the passionate debates about which member states are fit to be inte-
grated into the "Euro-Club" and wh ich have to stay outside illuminate that
today the "club-thinking" is accepted among the joint values of many Euro-
pean actors.

The Sociological View on the "Club"

Besides the economic perspective, there is also a sociological approach ex-

plaining the formation of clubs. From the sociological perspective, club
membership goes together with a specific class situation; it is an expression
üf a distinctive life-style of bourgeois elites. Characteristic of the exclusive-
ness of traditional private clubs in many European countries is their local
seclusion; they are organized around sociable activities, often extravagant
types of sport (golf, sailing). More exclusive even is the admission to debat-
ing societies; only hand-picked personalities are co-opted. Normally special
arrangements are made to secure a maximum of group-specific homogeneity.
One of the sacred rules of these fine clubs is the absence of women. Privi-
leged addresses of the economic elites of the United Kingdom, for instance,
are the traditional clubs, like the "Naval and Military," the "Oxford and Cam-
bridge." The exclusion of females belongs to their declared or undeclared
codex of honour. Women are not fit to become members; they are not "clu-
bable" (Heimreich 1995: 16). Exquisite clubs are separating themselves from
less respected clubs "insofar as they demand the whole person, the whole
social capital of a representativelbearer and all the more, the more renowned
they are and the more they are obliged to be an all embracing community of
joint interests and values" (Bourdieu 1987: 269). Many of the prominent
gentlemen's clubs are internationally interlocked. The fellowship in an exclu-
sive foreign club is the highest decoration.

Club Ethos and Discrimination Against Outsiders

It was stated above that the protagonists of the EU as a "club" do not have
any reservations to discriminate against economic outsiders. On the other
hand, discrimination on the ground of sex is no longer tolerated in the
framework of European equal opportunities policies. Thus, it seems that the
88 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

principles of excIusion of women, which are a distinguishing mark for many

of the private gentlemen's clubs, are not legally in the civilized European
Union. On the contrary, the European authorities have for decades presented
themselves in the public as advocates and supporters of gender equality
(European Commission 1997: 15). In this respect, the interesting question
arises whether the sociological and the economical notions of "club" repre-
sent totally incongruent models of exclusion of outsiders or whether mascu-
line patterns of exclusion and discrimination against women - in spite of all
rhetoric on gender equality - are stilI coming into play in the EU.

The European Community as a Political Regime "Sui


The institutional model of the community arose on the basis of the common
political traditions and cultures of the six founding members. Nevertheless, it
deviates in vital elements from the democratic-representative structures of
member states (Wall ace 1996: 145). At the beginning of the 1950s, there was
no thought given to public control or democratic participation of the people -
not to mention a fair representation of the genders. On the contrary, the first
institutional arrangements for integration were technocratic, economics-
driven, and elitist - deficiencies that were to prove their significance and
their explosive potential only very much later.
The first step was the treaty of 1951 establishing the European Coal and
Steel Community (ECSC Treaty), which secured common political control of
the "key industries" of the time, considered to be of strategic importance in
view of the experience of the two world wars. This is cIearly expressed in the
preamble of the treaty in which the signatories declare their firm intention "to
substitute for age-old rivalries the merging of their essential interests; to
create by establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and
deeper community among peoples lang divided by bloody conflicts" (Streit!
Mussler 1998: 101).
Whereas the ECSC Treaty reflects a concept of sectoral and therefore
partial integration, the treaty establishing the European Economic Commu-
nity of 1957 (EEC Treaty of Rome) aimed at a common market. The EEC
Treaty became and remains the legal basis for European integration. 1t has
been fundamentally amended four times - by the Single European Act (SEA)
of 1986, by the Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht Treaty of 1992),
by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, and by the Nizza Treaty of 2000. While
the Single European Act contained rules on the completion of the internal
market, the Maastricht Treaty established rules for the monetary union. All
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 89

four treaties involved a further extension of community powers in different

fields of economic policy.

Democratic Deflciencies and Men's Club "Rules ofWork"

How can the inner power balance of EU bodies be characterized? First, it

should be noted that the European system of institutions varies between in-
tergovemmentalism and supranationalism: there is intergovemmental coop-
eration, and there are supranational fields of policy. In contrast to national
and transnational institutions, a "third level" with its own genuine powers has
arisen. To this extent, the EU represents a multi-layered system in which
govemmental, non-governmental, and regional ac tors are related to one an-
other in complex ways (Pfetsch 1997: 118).
With reference to the negotiation structure as weIl, the European Com-
munity has found completely new solutions. It joins with the supranational
and intergovernmental institutions of the Council of Ministers, the European
Commission, the European Parliament (EP), the European Court, the Euro-
pean Council and, since June 1998, the European Central Bank (ECB) and
the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) in a highly complex mix of
institutions that - as many commentators assert - is distinguished by a high
level of procedural and structural conflicts but also by a high level of exper-
tise and efficiency. The system of overlapping authorities and multiple loyal-
ties is said to be profitable from a procedural point of view as it offers op-
portunities to come to agreements via "package dealing" and "log rolling"
(Pfetsch 1997: 121).
On the other hand, it is precisely because of the lack of openpess and
transparency that the European multi-network system has for years been
widely criticized in democratic public opinion. Since Denmark's "no" in the
(first) referendum on the Maastricht Treaty in June 1992, the debate is no
longer silenced about the political form of the European Union and the le-
gitimacy of governing on the European level.
From a gender perspective, still more raw nerves have been exposed re-
garding the democratic legitimization of, the EU (Dahlerup 1993: 29;
Schunter-Kleemann 1992: 36; Vogel-Polsky 1994: 9). The hypothesis of
democratic deficiencies in the EU relates also to the lack of representation of
the female gender in aIl European decision-making bodies. This has again
improved somewhat since the European elections in 1999 (quote of female
representatives in 'the EP: 30%); it continues to be, however, completely
unsatisfactory from the standpoint of gender democracy. The EU is still a
men's club. A sober investigation of the important European power bodies,
as weIl as of the decision-making elites in the member states who are pushing
90 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

forward economic and monetary integration, confronts us with men in pin-

stripes. By secretive and subtle mechanisms, representatives of womanhood
are kept away from the exclusive decision-making positions in politics, eco-
nomics, banking and finance - and not least from the bastions of power of the
European Court and the European Central Bank (EMIlECB) - despite alI the
rhetoric about equality of opportunity and "gender mainstreaming."
However, it does seem useful to qualify this. The EU is not an exclusive
men's club in the sense of a fully closed society. In the last years in
particular, it has seemed thoroughly functional, in the sense of modernizing
and enriching club life, to admit a few women to the hand-picked inner
circles. A gender-sensitive archaeological analysis of the institutions,
however, can show the extremes to which the European bureaucracies are
characterized by male cuItures, male interests, and masculine rules of work
(Schunter-Kleemann 1998: 12).
The instruments of secret bargaining and shielding against an interested
public have long been part of male instigation of power - men's bonds and
men's club rituals that are detrimental to a mature democracy. This applies
especially to the rules of work in the Council of Ministers, wh ich - in the
school of intergovernmentalism - is regarded as the most important decision-
making body of the EU (Scharpf 1994: 15). The authorization to negotiate of
the fifteen governments that negotiate with one another in the Council of
Ministers is acquired in national elections and, to this extent, has indirect
democratic legitimacy. More serious, however, is the fact that in the Council
of Ministers, deliberations are not public, and its internal decision-making
processes lack transparency to a great extent. What takes place is essentially
a secret diplomatic procedure, not a legislative procedure according to a
normal democratic understanding. Minutes of the deliberations are not pub-
lished. Nobody can be held responsible for wrong developments, and there is
no effective control in the sense of the separation of powers. Neither the
European Parliament nor the national parliaments are equipped with suffi-
cient powers of control in their relation to the Council of Ministers. The
European Council - and this applies also to the European Commission and
the European Central Bank - are institutions wh ich prefer to keep politics
behind closed doors. Bryde thus speaks of a re-bureaucratization of the leg-
islative process on anational as weIl as on a supranational level. The Council
of Ministers is, in fact, merely a general term for various expert groups in
different specialized ministries that, with the help of "European feIlow-play-
ers," can succeed with their special departmental objectives in Brussels in a
way that they could not do in their own capital cities. The European Council
decision-makers are, in essence, "specialist brotherhoods" of civil servants of
national ministries and their corresponding Brussels experts. This construc-
tion offers a Machiavellian mechanism for pushing through political deci-
sions that would otherwise be defeated by public resistance: the scapegoat
Brussels allows national governments to represent unpopular decisions at
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 91

horne as having been imposed by the EU and to create an image of them-

selves as defenders of national interests. Bryde sums up that "the legislative
process in the EU comes very near to an ideal kind of executive law-making
in which the last - from the executive's point of view - disturbing elements
of parliamentary control or public discussion have been extinguished" (Bryde
1993: 81ft). Senghaas's assessment is not any milder: "Our executives are
thus active in Brussels as a legislative body to the accompaniment of gentle
music from parliament. This is an absolute concentration of power. It
contradicts aIl the rules of several hundred years of Western European
constitutional history." (Senghaas 1991: 7)
Within the reform debates of the last years, many commentators have
urged the European Council to become more open in its legislative function.
Besides others, the European Parliament (EP) asked for an explicit statement
of the "principle of openness" in the treaty in view of bringing the EU closer
to citizens and to achieve a maximum of transparency. This has not been
realized. The continuing weak position of the EP, of the only directly elected
body in the structural polity of the European Community (that with a corre-
spondingly rather higher representation of women), is the subject of innu-
merable European debates and is reflected in the decreasing numbers of those
participating in the EP elections. Unlike national parliaments, it has neither
the formal right to initiate laws nor comprehensive legislative powers of
decision but has only limited rights of cooperation that vary in degree of
intensity according to the subject (DauseslFugmann 1995: 25). Even after the
improvements decided on in Amsterdam, the limited legislative function of
the EP continues to exist in the decisive political questions of the constitu-
tion, the economy, the currency, foreign policy, foreign trade, policy regard-
ing security and agriculture, as weIl as structural and migration policy (Wes-
sels 1997: 131).

Rule by Committees - the "Corporate Culture of the


In comparison to the EP, the European Commission is much more strongly

involved in the legislative procedure; it has at its disposal an exclusive right
of proposal for legal instruments. The proliferation of a myriad of committees
surrounding the European Commission in the wake of the internal market is
considered questionable as far as the theory of democracy is concerned. To-
day, there is an alrhost impenetrable jungle of advisory committees, standing
committees, managing committees, working groups, and expert forums that,
according to recent investigations, are thought to number around 1,000
(Neyer 1997: 25; Wesseis 1996: 183). The criticism that the European Com-
92 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

munity has transformed itself into a "technocratic regime" and that it is ruled
by an uncontrolled power elite is thus nourished by the fact that around
eighty-five per cent of all European Commission decisions are reached in
closed committees in which appointed experts from economic and agricul-
tural associations, private agencies, and firms function as advisors (Schna-
belffiedemann 1995: 13). Many involved experts may be difficult to distin-
guish from lobbyists. The EP has repeatedly criticized the policy of main-
taining secrecy in the committees; for even to the EP the agendas of topics
handled in the committees are often not made available, nor is information
provided regarding voting on important subjects. The extremely controversial
decisions made in recent months about the allowance of genetically modified
food or about the BSE crisis have lent new force to the criticism of the pri-
vacy of committee proceedings (Carlberg 1997: 16; Neyer 1997: 25).
Besides this, after the SEA the number of interest associations registered
in Brussels has reached several hundreds. This mirrors a situation where
business interests prefer to work through a great number and variety of spe-
cialized intermediaries. The European Commission seems to have deliber-
ately encouraged the formation of these associations and very quickly estab-
lished procedures for recognizing their special European status (Streeck!
Schmitter 1994: 187).

The Union as a "Club," "Esprit de Corps," and Male

Working Culture

Many cross-cultural studies on women in management have given evidence

that the key positions in business, politics, banking, and the stock exchange
in the European me mb er states still experience a fundamental lack of repre-
sentation of women. As bastions of male culture, these domains are widely
sacrosanct (Nerge 1992: 85; Orange 1996: 20; Poole 1996: 3095). Against
this background, the questions of the cultural character of the European Un-
ion are especially interesting. Do the patterns of marginalization of women
continue? Which roles do "clubs," old-boy's networks, and male interlocks
play? The EU-Commission is - as is the European Court of Justice and the
European Parliament - a European administration with an explicitly women-
friendly rhetoric. They have raised many hopes of equalizing gender relations
through law, "positive action," and "gender mainstreaming."
The "double message" sent from Brussels seems to be that for years the
European Commission has been able to profile itself as an advocate of a
"gender mainstreaming" policy but that, on the other hand, the pictures taken
at all important meetings show the European boards as immovable male
bulwarks. A document published by the DG IX Equal Opportunity Unit in
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 93

1996 shows that regarding the fair representation of genders a lot has to be
done. While the representation of women in the middle management of the
European Commission has improved with the accession of Sweden, Finland,
and Austria to 13%, the rate of women in high ranking posts has, in fact,
doubled only from 2.4% in 1994 to 5.2% in 1996 (Equal Opportunities, 1996:
4). In this regard, there is no difference between the EU-Commission and the
top management in many of the European enterprises. We do even find self-
criticism in the Third Action Program on Equal Opportunities for the Euro-
pean Commission's own civil servants (1997-2000). It is complained that
there are various fields in which the measures to attain an egalitarian distri-
bution of jobs have until now been practically without effect. The following
barriers are mentioned: "stereotyped thinking, a male working culture and a
fundamental lack of enthusiasm on the sides of the managers who are respon-
sible for the implementation of these measures" (Troisieme programme
d'action 1997: 6).
Empirical studies of the practices of personnel recruitment and promo-
tion in the EU-Commission are stilllacking. Here only some plausible argu~
ments are presented that may help to explain why women are so underrepre-
sented in the high-ranking posts of the EU-Commission. It is worthwhile in
this context to distinguish between several modes of co-optation that are
applied simultaneously and might have the effects of a filter against women.

(Male) Forms of Self-Recruitment and Appointment

In the ambit of the European Commission, we first find the norm of the "geo-
graphical equilibrium," which shall secure a broad and balanced personnel
recruitment. Additionally, you can observe a form of recruitment that follows
the "logic of political exchange." Vacant or new positions, for example in the
high ranks of the GDs, are, so to speak, negotiated between the representa-
tives of the governments or are placed in the form of a compensation bargain.
A third method of co-optation is applied with respect to the recruitment
of experts for the advisory, standing, and managing committees. Because of
their special ist functions, the staff here is selected primarilyon the basis of
technocratic and administrative criteria, but, at the same time, the criteria of
national proportionality are applied (Bach 1994: 22).
A fourth mode of placement is mono-national forms of co-optation. They
are often used in the recruitment of high-ranking officials, who usually have
the same nationality as their commissioner, for the GDs and cabinets. Unlike
in the member states, where often systems of party patronage exist, on the
European level we find systems of strict national patronage. The recruitment
for these positions is of utmost importance for the interest mediation of the
94 Susanne Schunter-Kleemann

national business c\ientele. Although it contradicts fundamentally with the

norms of the European Commission's "supranational autonomy" and "inde-
pendence," all governments pay highest vigilance to safeguard that their
nation is weil represented. On the other hand, the democratically outstanding
question of a fair representation of the genders, an idea advocated by the
European Commission Euro-wide, has not gained the adequate attention in
the European Commission's recruitment policy itself.

The "Marketization of Policy"

The fact that despite numerous initiatives no progress could be made in the
vital issue of a democratic reform of the EU at the intergovernmental confer-
ences in Amsterdam (1997) and Nizza (2000) might be connected to the fact
that the European countries have completely different ideas about the direc-
tion in which the European Community should develop in future. Since a
constitution merely mirrors the social power relationships that it attempts to
enact, progress in the constitutional question can scarcely be reckoned with in
the near future in the face of the highly conflicting aims of the national gov-
ernments. Finally, the hypothesis cannot be rejected that the situation la-
mented by many, that of the undermining of parliamentary systems and the
deadlocked constitutionalizing of Europe accompanied by the simultaneous
promotion of EMU, is a far more functional far better situation for interested
economic groups because it promotes a "marketization of policy" (Ziebura
1997: 78). This would also explain why the deficiency in democracy, which
has been complained about for decades, has been treated not as a fundamen-
tal violation of basic constitutional principles but more as a "me re
peccadillo" (Luster 1991: 130).
From a political economic point of view, it is the multi-national
corporations (MNC) that are the vital driving force of integration and that, in
an elite pact with European Commission, Council of Ministers, and other
neo-liberally orientated state machinery (central banks, economic and
financial ministries) and organizations (parties, industrial associations), are
step by step creating the framework conditions to position European big
business in the world market and to make it competitive. Thus, the purpose of
integration is the "freeing of market forces" from regulations that inhibit
competition and the strengthening for worldwide expansion. By means of
overt and covert forms of influence, lobbying, and networking with European
Community bodies, above all, with the European Commission and its
committees, the MNC have succeeded in showing off their (also totally
conflicting) interests to advantage. The European Commission works as
"political entrepreneur" within the framework of the elite pact concept; it
Gender and Power - The European Union as a Masculine Project 95

launches, presents and popularizes the new state and regulation model
(Bieling/Steinhilber 1997: 24).
The European power synthesis has succeeded in asserting itself by means
of pressure and threat (e.g. global competition, convergence criteria) but also
to a considerable extent by consensus-inducing mechanisms of ideological
leadership (e.g. the policy of equal opportunity) as well as by the material
support and partnership-based interaction with local ac tors (e.g. structural
funds and Committee of the Regions) through which any possible potential
for protest and resistance are brought under contro!. According to this view,
the EU is increasingly transforming itself into an uncontrolled international
regime, a "Euro club," with a clear power shift in favour of private interests
compared to the national state level (Ziltener 1995: 83). Nevertheless, it must
be emphasized that the institutionally created framework of Maastricht, Am-
sterdam, and Nizza has in no way abolished all the economic and social pol-
icy differences of the member states. However, in so far as it has, through the
Treaty of the European Union and the European Monetary Union, contractu-
aUy enshrined the conditions of "competitive austerity" and of "competitive
deregulation," it has weakened regional opportunities for trade unions and
welfare organizations to shape and to influence, and, not least, at the same
time it has weakened the opportunities of European women. It is in this sense
that Streeck writes that the EU has, under the conditions of advanced capi-
talism, developed into a neoliberal competitive community: "Within this, the
national state is able to survive by handing over in an internationally-
coordinated way those economic and social functions that it can no longer
fulfil to the market and private international institutions like the European
Central Bank, which are protected from political pressure. Thus, with a
project for the de-politicising of the economy or for the rebuilding of the
post-war interventionist and social state, the European integration project has
become fundamentally identical to the competitive state." (Streeck 1998: 6)


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Kinga Lohmann

Strategies and Dernands of Wornen' s NGOs frorn

Central and Eastem Europe in the Beijing +5 and the
European Union Enlargernent Process

At the Beijing+5 reviewing procedure to advance the status of wornen five

years after the Fourth W orId Conference on Wornen in Beijing in 1995
wornen frorn Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) made their voices heard
which until then had not been raised to such extent within the United nations
context. Their group had very precise views on the Beijing+5 process and
through it has developed the regional (CEE) identity. It saw the necessity and
the ways and means to influence this process.
The EU enlargernent process which is going on offers opportunities for
wornen in CEE to address gender equality. The strategy is to get involved in
this process and to use it to advance wornen's econornic rights and to impose
and enforce wornen human rights standards. However, we should be aware
what we can gain and what we can loose in this process.
This article undertakes to present the strategies and dernands of wornen
frorn CEE to be taken into account by the international and European public.
Our voices are still unheard or neglected in the public discussion especially in
the European Union.

Beijing+5 Process

In February 1997 wornen's NGOs frorn ten countries of CEE established a

coalition called "KARAT." This action oriented coalition of organizations
and individuals works together to change the socio-political position of
wornen in Central and Eastern Europe and to strengthen wornen's NGOs in
the process of dernocratisation. ConceptuaIly, KARAT was a "child" of the
Forth WorId Conference on Wornen in Beijing in 1995. We noticed that our
region - Central Eastern Europe - was invisible in Beijing and not because
our representatives were not there. We were utterIy disorganized, and rnany
of us were floundering due to our unfarniliarity with the rnechanisrns of UN
conferences, the significance of lobbying, and the role of NGOs in the proc-
100 Kinga Lohmann

ess of influencing an international document. We were also not aware how

the activities on an international forum can be used in one's country. This
lack of active involvement in the work on the Beijing document meant that
we were also unaware of the potential significance of the document for the
improved situation of women in our countries.
The Beijing document - "Platform for Action" - has been an important
tool for us, and we have used this international instrument to put pressure on
our governments.
Thus, the great challenge for women from Central and Eastern Europe
was how to participate actively in the Beijing +5 process. We did not want a
repetition of the situation from the Beijing conference.

Regional Identity

Participation in the global preparations to Beijing+5 was possible due to joint

actions, discussions, and projects that were undertaken by the KARAT Coa-
lition. Originally, it was necessary to accomplish two basic things. We had to
build mutual trust and faith in the success of a joint initiative and action. The
initiative, which came from grassroots organizations in the region and was
based on our own experience and mistakes, allowed us to realize the enor-
mous potential upon which we can now base our actions. Second, it was
necessary for us to und erstand the meaning and importance of a joint regional
action and switch from looking from a perspective of issues concerning
women in our own countries to a regional perspective. The breakthrough
point for this way of thinking was our participation in the 43'd session of the
UN Commission on the Status ofWomen in March 1999 and the presentation
of our regional report.
Active participation in the Beijing+5 process meant the start of discus-
sions on the problems facing women characteristic to Central and Eastern
Europe. After contemplating the scope of differences between this region and
the rest of the ECE (Economic Commission for Europe), including the USA,
Canada, Western Europe, Israel and the former Soviet Union, we identified
three areas of concern that particularly distinguish our region - women and
economy, institution al mechanisms for the advancement of women, and
women and armed conflict. This does not mean, however, that other issues
were perceived as less important.
Fundamentally, ours is an economy in transition. The process of privati-
sation in our region has often had negative impacts on women - both in terms
of gaining access to assets and concerning practices of the new private sector.
Wehave focused on the institution al mechanisms because the existence and
correct functioning of such was perceived by women as very important for
Strategies and Dernands afWarnen 's NGOs 101

the development of democracy and promotion of gender awareness. One of

the most paramount concerns calling for resolution continues to be the situa-
tion of women and girls in armed conflict and pe ace building.

Wornen and econorny

Economic transition has caused a deterioration of the economic status of

women. Governments have failed to promote new economic roles and op-
portunities for women, which has led to increased poverty, unemployment,
and lower paying jobs for all women - including the highly skilled, educated,
and experienced. Training, retraining, and new vocational skills have often
not reached women with obsolete skiIls, and in most countries rural women
have not benefited from a social security system.
Furthermore, neither employers nor employees are aware of the laws
against gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, if they exist.
More and more women are starting their own businesses, from high technol-
ogy to petty trade and other activities in the informal economy. These women
lack capital and training to start and expand their businesses, and in numer-
ous countries they are threatened by organized crime.

Institutional rnechanisrns for the advancernent of wornen

Democracies in our countries remain fragile because of lack of democratic

tradition, capacity , and resources. The implementation and protection of
women's human rights are not fully guaranteed. Weakness of institutional
mechanisms, insufficient financial/human resources, and lack of gen der
awareness at all levels of the society are the main obstacles. Furthermore,
existing national machineries are vulnerable to political changes. Govern-
mental modification means lack of continuity, including elimination of na-
tional machinery, lowering of status or mandate, and chan ging of staff. While
qualified NGOs are available, governments often do not recognize them as

Wornen and Girls in arrned conflict and peace-building

Armed conflicts, including ethnic ones, have illuminated the fact that women
and girls, among them minority women, are exposed to human rights abu ses
and multiple discrimination. Since the Balkans and Caucasus still represent a
powder-keg with the possibility of new armed conflicts, the international
community should recognize that women are not only victims but also part-
ners in conflict prevention and non violent resolution. During efforts to re-
102 Kinga Lohmann

solve the conflicts, the perspectives and expertise of women have not been
incIuded. And yet, the danger and impact of conflicts are not limited to the
countries in which they take place; they threaten the rights and weII-being of
girls and women in adjacent countries as weIL Furthermore, there is a pre-
vailing disiIIusionment with international law and enforcement of human
rights protections as international war criminals go unpunished.

Strategies of Women's NGOs

Women of our region's NGOs have recognized the importance of fuII and
effective participation at aII international levels.
First, in our own countries, we do not have a model of democratic co-op-
eration to follow. There is no partner dialogue between government repre-
sentatives and the civil society. Our politics is still based on a principle of
hierarchy, and a lot of the government representatives neither take an opinion
of NGOs into consideration, nor desire to recognize the role of women's
organizations. The co-operation with the NGOs from Western Europe or the
United States does not supply us with a partnership model either. This co-
operation is often based on training, passing of the western experience on to
us, or even imposing the western model, which does not apply to our circum-
stances. We do not feel like partners, but rather like pupils, who, moreover,
are never asked what they would like to learn. With these our only two mod-
els, we too often perpetuate them in our own organizations and in co-opera-
tion with other NGOs. However, we are committed to empowering women to
participate in the UN and international conferences. Instead of training
women in leadership, our approach is to learn democracy through active
participation. It is at the international forum that we can take part in partner-
ship discussions with other NGOs.
Second, over the last decade, NGOs from Central Eastern Europe have
been absent from global debates on women' s rights. Our coIIeagues from
Western Europe have very often used the phrase "we, the women of Europe,"
but aII examples have been related to the European Union alone. Therefore,
there has been a huge gap to be filled: our own self-defined regional perspec-
tive on the problems facing women. Having developed this should enable us
to make active contributions to the global discussion. UItimately, the para-
mount purpose of our participation in the Beijing+5 process was joining the
discussion on the outcome document and thus influencing its final shape so
that it contained issues concerning women from the CEE region.
Third, the international forum has helped us to get cIoser to the delegates
of our governments, which is not always possible in our own countries. It has
also provided opportunities for us to gain experience and international recog-
Strategies and Demands ojWomen's NGOs 103

nition, which in turn should build our authority in the eyes of government
representatives in our horne countries.
Fourth, getting to know the mechanisms of the UN agencies as weIl as
the procedures associated with the drafting and adoption of documents, has
an enormous significance in demonstrating a certain model of co-operation
between the representatives of governments and the NGOs. It makes us real-
ize the extent of influence that the NGOs can have on the final shape of an
international document. It becomes an inspiration and an encouragement to
introduce similar mechanisms and procedures in our own countries. The
women NGOs from the CEE took the opportunity of involvement in Bei-
jing+5 to strengthen themselves and gain recognition at the international
forum. Through active participation, the KARAT leadership and member
organizations have become increasingly effective in organizing caucuses and
workshops, producing policy statements and recommendations, lobbying,
working with government representatives, using the media, and writing
NGOs' reports for the United Nations.


Thanks to the active participation in this process, the strong points of CEE
women's coalition are experience and legitimacy at the international level
(particularly within the ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) and the
UN), learning the meaning and importance of joint regional action, and
switching from a myriad of single national perspectives to a unified regional
strategy for advancements at the national level.

European Union Enlargement Process

There is now another process that offers opportunities to address gender

equality and to impose and enforce women's human rights standards, both
politically and economicaIly. A new KARAT initiative switches from the UN
and ECE forum to the European Union level so that we will monitor the
implementation of the European Union gen der equality standards in the EU
enlargement process. Our new initiative is an integrated approach to use the
process of European Union Accession to advance gender equality and
women's economic rights. The EU offers several invaluable supports: its own
gender equality standards, women's organizations as partners and collabora-
tors and an accession process by which the EU has leverage to require
104 Kinga Lohmann

changes in candidate countries' legislation and evidence of effective en-

forcement mechanisms'.
We assurne the following:

that entering the EU will be beneficial for CEE women,

that CEE women may support the accession process, working to help
their governments and negotiating teams to prepare for accession,
that highlighting and disseminating EU gender equality standards in CEE
will promote increased respect for and protection of women' s rights,
that while the women of CEE want the EU to articulate and enforce
gender equality standards more rigorously in the EU Accession Process,
they do not want to slow down the accession process or be viewed na-
tionally as spoilers.

The EU Accession Process was launched for the countries of CEE in 1993
when the Copenhagen European Council agreed that "the associated coun-
tries in Central and Eastern Europe that so des ire shall become members of
the European Union." Negotiations opened on 31 March 1998 with Cyprus,
Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. They proceeded
on 15 February 2000 with Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and
In most candidate countries, there is little civil society information and/or
understanding of the process, little citizen involvement, and no organized
women's participation to address women's rights and gen der integration.
At the same time, in the European Union, there are fears of the economic
impact of enlargement. Citizens lack understanding of the capabilities and
culture of CEE citizens, and information regarding accession remains in the
purview of official EU institutions. In the European Union, there is also little,
if any, attention to gen der within the EU Accession Process, women's par-
ticipation in EU Accession, and civil society support for the enlargement

Economic Literacy

The European Union standards concerning gender equality deal mostly with
equality in the labour market. Hence, economic literacy among women from
the CEE needs to improve. Women need to increase their capacity to advo-
cate for economic justice through a greater understanding of economic theory
and policy, gender implication of laws relating to employment and business,
and ways to promote the implementation and enforcement of legislation
protecting women in the economy. The approach is to te ach and build under-
Strategies and Demands ofWomen's NGOs 105

standing regarding the economic aspects of labour codes as weIl as employ-

me nt and business related legislation.

EU Accession

KARATs experience from partaking in the Beijing+5 process suggests that

achieving political and economie justice for women in the CEE depends on
using mechanisms outside of national governments and legal systems. The
national negotiating teams are not open to eollaboration or to listening to
CEE women; therefore, we can most effeetively reach team members in
construetive ways by gaining the support of EU officials and women. There
are limited opportunities at the national level to achieve improvements. Gov-
ernments are weak, laek resources and political will, lack a legal system
equipped to enforee rights, and lack a eulture of rule of law and good govern-
ance. Insofar as the EU Accession Process requires candidate countries to
pass legislation that meets EU standards, to demonstrate the capability to
enforce the law, and to set up mechanisms to transfer EU law into national
law; the accession proeess offers an opportunity to promote the EU gender
equality standards in CEE. But to gain from this proeess, women in the re-
gion must understand the protocol and steps of EU Accession and develop
strategie partnerships for advoeaey. The objective of women's active partici-
pation is that the process of EU enlargement takes into account women' s
needs and perspectives, and that CEE women are conscious of the conse-
quences of EU Accession.
Through entry to the EU, women from candidate countries have greater
possibilities with EU mac;hineries and standards than with their own national
ones. Entry to EU will be a means of strengthening the eountry governments,
such that they will have the capability and eommitment to respect women's
rights. By working on EU Accession, CEE women will further develop their
knowledge and skills for work at the national and CEE regional level.
Focusing on EU standards not only offers the opportunity for them to ap-
ply to candidate countries, but also establishes gen der standards and expecta-
tions for neighbouring countries - their wornen, general citizenry, NGOs and
governments. Ultimately, eollaborating with women from the EU on com-
mon gender issues is a means of developing CEE women's eapacity to ana-
lyse issues, develop arguments, and put forward their own opinions and per-
106 Kinga Lohmann

European Integration

The overriding objective is to use European integration as a way of enhanc-

ing gender equality and resources for women in EU and CEE countries by
building new partnerships and understanding between EU and CEE women's
NGOs, fostering greater understanding between the citizens of the EU and
CEE, and collaborating with EU women to strengthen the "civil dialogue"
about gender equality with institutions of the EU.
Our experience in the Beijing+5 process exposed the serious ignorance
of EU women regarding CEE women. Given both the international nature of
the Uni ted Nations' process as weIl as the people involved, this does not bode
weIl for EU citizens more generally speaking. Therefore, we may pIay an
important roIe in building EU understanding of the citizens and culture of
Effective integration into the EU is important for the women in CEE for
fundamental reasons. Citizens of CEE do not want to be second class citizens
within the EU. Women of CEE do not want to be second class women within
the EU, nor do they want to be represented by existing EU women's
organizations without having equaI partnership with them. And, ultimately,
the concept of "integration" underscores the importance of preventing a sce-
nario of continued separation ofWest and East.
Rashida A. AI-Hamdani

The Transition in the Situation of Women in Yemen

Formed May 1990 after unification of its northern and southern parts, the
Republic of Yemen is an emerging democracy situated in the Arabian Penin-
One of least developed countries (LDC), Yemen faces challenges in all
areas of development. It ranked 137 among 174 countries in terms of the
Human Development Index according to the 1990 Global Human Develop-
ment Report and deteriorated to 148 among 174 countries in the year 2000.
Since unification, Yemen has struggled with many issues, some of which
are shared with other nations going through similar transitions and others that
are unique. It has diverse regional, social, political, linguistic, and religious
The population has grown from 12.2 million in 1990 to 18.2 in 2000.
Half of its population is less than 15 years of age, and nearly a fifth is under
the age of five, causing one of the highest dependency ratios in the world,
about 416.8 per 1000 in 2000.
Yemen faced economic deterioration with its GDP per Capita falling
from $701 to $325 in the 1990s. Unemployment reached 35% and average
real wages dropped by 85%. Growth rate of public services and goods grew.
Budget deficits reached 16.3% of GDP in 1994 in spite of increases in oil
exports, and overall economic growth stagnated and worsened with the civil
war in 1994.
The government embarked on economic reforms in late 1994 through a
national program of comprehensive reconstruction aimed at reviewing public
sector enterprises and the structure of the administrative apparatus as weIl as
establishing financial and administrative decentralisation. This resulted in
stabilising the economy; the real GDP grew 5-6%; and there was a decline in
budget deficits of 1%. And yet despite the economic gains, poverty has since
almost doubled. Households below the food poverty line have risen from 9%
to 17% and those of poverty from 19% to 33%.
Previously, Yemen was classified as an agricultural country and was al-
most self sufficient in its food production. This has changed dramatically,
and the country is now classified as a food deficient, importing over 75% of
108 Rashida A. Al-Hamdani

its main staple. This is due to many factors. Shortage in rainfalls, desertifi-
cation, and environment degradation caused by population growth, consump-
tion and development patterns, among other causes, pose an additional threat
to future generations and limit the possibility of agricultural as weil as indus-
trial production.
Population is distributed over nineteen governorates in addition to the
capital city of Sana'a. With a predominantly rural population, over 70% of
people live in isolated communities with limited access to education, health
care, and other social services, Yemen' s health, education and poverty statis-
tics are of grave concern.
Primary health care reaches only 42% of the population with a sharp dis-
parity between urban and rural areas (75% and 24% respectively). Half of the
children under five are malnourished. Infant mortality rate has declined from
83 to 75.3 per 1,000 life births. Estimates of maternal mortality vary widely,
ranging from 351 to 1,400 per 100,000 live births according to international
comparative statistics (UNICEF, WHO). The total fertility rate stands at 6.7
per woman, as indicated by the Demographic Health Survey in 1997. Contra-
ceptive use has increased to 21 %. Life expectancy at birth for men and
women has risen to ages 56 and 59 respectively. The annual population
growth has fallen from 3.7% in 1994 to 3.5% in 2000 yet still remains among
the highest rates world-wide.
In the education sec tor, despite expansion of schools, teachers, etc., still
only 17% of the population of age ten and above have completed primary
school, and only 59% of the school age population is enrolled in school with
disparities among gender (30% girls and 73% boys). Currently, 72% of fe-
males and 28% males are iIliterate.
All social indicators not only reflect low human development in general
but reflect the low status of women as weil. According to the Gender Devel-
opment Index, which reveals inequalities between females and males, Yemen
ranks 133 of 143 countries. Furthermore, gender disparity and lack of
women' s participation in alI public spheres of life prove key challenges for
human development in Yemen.

Gender Perspective in Yemen

The issue of women is always "hidden" under such terms as "people," "soci-
ety," etc. The issue of women in development (WID) that was launched in
the early 80's started to open the path for women to be involved in the devel-
opment process. While women in Yemen steadily strengthened their visibility
in this process, the WID concept was modified to GID (Gender in Develop-
ment). This terminology stirred misconception and was perceived as threat-
The Transition in the Situation ofWomen in Yemen 109
ening to the centrality of the family as weIl as societal values and morals. It
still currently remains a controversial issue.
Yemeni history includes queens and models of female Muslim leader-
ship, but also influential mothers, wives, and courtesans, female patrons of
arts, scholars, poets, and holy women. In general, this has positively influ-
enced conceptions of fern ale leadership and power in the society. In contem-
porary Yemen, this perspective has changed dramatically, and women are
striving to revive the old image of women leadership.
With unification, a process of democratisation began that is inclusive of
commitments to a multi party system, liberalisation of the economic system,
and development of civil society. This process has dramatically increased
opportunities for both men and women. Many aspects of gender relations are
in transition due to rapid urbanisation (+7%), trends of immigration and re-
turnees, and changing political dimensions and economic rights. Roles of
women have become important issues of debate, and at the core of this dia-
logue are conceptions about appropriate relations between men and women
and how these core building blocks relate to visions of society.

Gender and Public Life

Key gender issues are evident in public life in electoral and party politics,
civil society, and the government bureaucracy. Yemeni women are the first
and only fern ales on the Arabian Peninsula to have suffrage rights. While
women in the peninsula are still struggling for this essential right, Yemeni
women have been voting for decades.
Also unique on the peninsula is the principle of multiparty politics,
which has been an essential component of unification and has provided
women with opportunities for involvement that they would not otherwise
have had. In addition to women's recent involvement in the first local council
elections, thirty-five women were elected, some of them even in conservative
Women involvement in politics has increased over the last decade. The
three major political parties - General Peoples' Congress (GPC - the ruling
party), the Islah (the country's largest religious party) and the Yemeni So-
cialist Party (YSP - the former ruling regime in the South) - have established
women's sections, and there are a few women at high levels who address
some women's concern. Other political parties have also started to establish
women's sections to attract more enrolments from the female sector.
Some of the political parties specifically, the GPC, YSP, Nasserites and
others, have fielded female candidates, and only GPC and YSP candidates
were elected for the parliament. The first joint parliament in 1990 had ten
110 Rashida A. Al-Hamdani

women all from the South (YSP), and this number dropped to only two
women in the 1997 election. The current women parliamentarians are also
from the South but are GPC members.
Women voters also witnessed an increase from 16% in the 1993 elections
to 38% in the 1999 presidential election. Their role has become apparent and
important to political parties who attempt to attract this sector by giving more
space to women in leadership and opportunities.
On the other hand, NGOs, in recent years, mostly charitable, have been
growing rapidly in number, reaching over 3,000 by 2000. Supported by the
Law No. 4 for the Local Authority, wh ich grants a wider power to local enti-
ties, a new trend towards decentralisation and people's participation in devel-
opment is Iikely to steadily evolve. Many NGOs have established women's
sections. Also, women have formed their own organisations, now about forty,
to provide services directly to women.
There are a number of concerns that impact the whole sector, and others
are specific to women's organisations. NGO's are often headed by a single
individual (influential person, sheik, etc.), lack institutional stability and
community support. Another problem is the low level of co-operation and
Generally speaking, because of women's disadvantages in education and
employment, they lack leadership and management skills. Furthermore, there
is a lacuna of women and men with in-depth skills in gender analysis, plan-
ning, and mainstreaming. The controversial nature of the word "gender," and
even activities labelIed as "women's projects," contributes to an environment
of tension and conflict discouraging many from activism in the field. Moreo-
ver, most of the NGOs are clustered in the cities and neglect the rural areas
where their services are mostly needed. And finally, women with higher rates
of iIIiteracy have more limited access to the NGO system because of
complications, expense, and distance. Thus, women in the most needy areas
of the country are deprived and ineligible for donor assistance.
The government, realising the importance of gender perspective and
complying with international commitments to the Beijing Platform, ICPD,
etc., has established a government body to promote women's advancement in
all spheres of life. The Women National Committee of twenty-one members
was formed in 1996 headed by a female leader who became the first female
ambassador last year. In 1999, this committee was upgraded to High
Supreme Council for Women headed by the prime minister hirnself. The
daily work was entrusted to a general secretariat headed by a female (your
presenter). The Women National Committee was also retained within this
restructure as an advisory group and expanded its membership to over
seventy members (both men and women) to incIude representation of all the
ministries, political parties, private sector, and civil society. Above aII, net-
working women' s issues internally and externally is a major goal. This or-
ganisation has the mandate to develop policies, strategies, and plans for
The Transition in the Situation ofWomen in Yemen 111

women's advancement and has a budget from the govemment. It has em-
barked since its inception in recording women's advancement in various
sectors, raising awareness, gender mainstreaming, advocating for women's
issues and concerns, monitoring violence against women, implementing
studies and research to stand on the status of women, identifying gaps, re-
viewing laws, and mobilising resources. While the journey thus far has not
been smooth, it has largely been steady.
On the other hand, women's enrolment in government service has in-
creased to 15% (civii servants) thus making the government the largest em-
ployer of women. This sec tor has witnessed steady support for women's
advancement, which has been recorded in the appointments of a nu mb er of
females in high posts, such as female ambassador, charge d'affairs, deputy
minister, director general and lastly the first woman minister in the cabinet.
Hence, Yemen has become the first in the peninsula to establish such a con-
troversial Ministry of Human Rights and has entrusted it to a woman minis-
It is also worth mentioning that the civil service has a very c1ear and eq-
uitable wage scale based on qualifications and years of service. However,
gender inequalities do arise within the bureaucracy in terms of promotions,
missions, appointment levels, etc.

Gender and Legal Status

The constitution, which was adopted by popular referendum in April 1991,

grants equal political, economic, legal, and cultural rights to male and female
citizens as weIl as equal opportunities (articles 19,21,27). The 1994 consti-
tution declares that "Islamic Shariah is the sole source of all legislation,"
which established the foundation for the rights of all citizens. Article 31 spe-
cifically states that "Women are the sisters of men." They have rights and
duties that are guaranteed and assigned by Shariah and stipulated by law.
Some women human rights activist debate this stipulation, specially that
sisterhood in the culture means dependency on brotherhood thus reinforcing
male dominance of females.
Yemen has ratified many international conventions. The convention that
still marks debate is CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women), which was ratified in 1984 by the South-
ern government and became bound after unification. Additionally, a delega-
tion from Yemen attended the Fourth W orId Conference in Beijing that re-
sulted in the Beijing Platform Action, which directly addresses gender ine-
qualities in legal, political, economic and social spheres. The government has
112 Rashida A. AI-Hamdani

approved anational strategy on women based on this platform and submits

reports required to comply with CEDAWand the Beijing Platform.
The modern laws are theoreticaIly good and sound although there are
some discrepancies in so me articles such as in the Personal Status Law, Penal
Code, Nationality Law, etc.
Key gender issues in the legal sphere inc1ude tremendous gender gaps in
the legal professions, access to courts, legal literacy, gender based discrimi-
nation of the laws themselves, and a discrepancy between the legal practice
and the rights that women have. Gender-based factors that influence access to
the legal system inc1ude financial capabilities, limitations on women's mo-
bility, cultural norms that require male intervention or support, and court
behaviour that discriminates against female lawyers and clients. Legal liter-
acy is also a major issue for women as they are less likely than men to read
and write and/or to have knowledge of Islamic or customary legal traditions.
Further gender issues inc1ude prohibiting certain types of strenuous and dan-
gerous jobs and hours as weIl as retirement and pension benefits that aIIow
women to retire earlier than men (55 versus 60), which seems to translate into
a lower pension entitlement for women.
The most pausing baITiers against women's advancement are the unwrit-
ten, customary laws. However, there are many gender sensitive laws, which
value women's reproductive roles such as the Labour Law.

Gender and Health Care

Government has made progress in this sec tor, which attracts good support
from m,any donors. The government spending is low, less than 5%, while this
service is increasingly required and in demand due to the high population
growth of 3.5% and the dispersed population.
It is estimated that more than 42% of the population and only 35% of the
rural residents are receiving primary health care attention. Thus, household
out-of-pocket contributions to health care are 75%, demonstrating the sec-
tor' s crisis.
Key gen der issues that contribute to high infant and child mortality rates
(75 and 105 out of 1,000 live births compared to 46 and 60 in the region)
inc1ude low literacy rates of mothers, high fertility rates, matern al age and
general heaIth, matemal health services and access, and the heavy work-load
of rural mothers.
Key matemaI heaIth issues that have gender dimensions inc1ude high
fertility rates (6.5 children per woman), high matern al mortality rates (rang-
ing between 350-1,400 per 100,000 births), few births attended by trained
health personneI (22%) and low life expectancy (59 years). Family planning
The Transition in the Situation 0/ Wornen in femen 113

services are offered in not more than 60% of the existing health centres and
in only 11 % of basic health units.
Women usually exhibit a high-risk reproductive health behaviour, such
as pregnancy and birth, in the most dangerous phases of their lives - too
early, too cIose, too often, and too late. This situation is reinforced by a lack
of an efficient system for referrals in critical cases and emergency deliveries.
At the community level, the degree of awareness of the danger related to
pregnancies and the readiness for immediate evacuation in emergency cases
is stilliow. In most cases, the community is reluctant to facilitate the evacua-
tion or referral in a timely manner, for cost considerations as well as of the
traditional attitude - women must be escorted by a male family member to
visit a health centre. Thus, the majority of women do not possess the social
status that enables them to make decisions on their own pregnancy and deliv-
ery situations.
Maternal death is of grave concern because it accounts for 42% of all
deaths among women of reproductive age - making pregnancy and childbirth
the most significant life-threatening risk factor.
The current use of modern birth control methods does not exceed 10%
among married women and increases to 21 % when incIuding the tradition al
and breast feeding methods. Reproductive counselling before marriage, para-
and peri-natal, are all services which do not ex ist, and if so, then only seldom.
Statistics indicate that a quarter of women in reproductive age suffer a
very high nutritional deficit. Thirty-seven out of one hundred births occur
within less than twenty-four months, leaving mothers in chronic energy defi-
ciency and increasing the risk of mortality and morbidity for themselves and
their new-borns.
Another gender facet of health care is the low number of women in posi-
tions of leadership with the Ministry of Health and Population. Women are
invisible in planning and reproductive 'health interventions in addition to the
problems of poor distribution of health care workers and shortages of female
health workers in rural areas.
Another issue of concern is the practice and degree of severity of female
circumcision, or female genital mutilation, which has been estimated at 20%
with a slightly higher rate among older women. This practice is evident in the
coastal areas and among many refugees and mi grant workers from Africa.
There are also rising cases of HIV/AIDS and sexual transmitted diseases
among refugees in particular.
114 Rashida A. AI-Hamdani

Gender and Education

Education is as basic a right as health, allowing rnen and wornen a share in

social and econornic decisions irnpacting their lives. Wornen's education is
especially irnportant since wornen are prirnarily in charge of children's pre-
school education.
Illiteracy, cornbined with a lack of educational opportunities, keeps rnany
wornen ignorant of their rights, ernployrnent opportunities, and socio-eco-
nornic welfare. The illiteracy rate of wornen rnarked a decline but still re-
mains as high as 72%, cornpared to 28% for men. In rural areas, this figure
exceeds 85%, giving women little receptivity to advocacy airned at improv-
ing their situation.
Key gender issues related to education include social attitudes towards
girls' education, low fern ale enrolrnent (39%), high drop-out rates (46%), low
nurnbers of female teachers (18%), and the lack of girl schools, and inade-
quate facilities, wh ich have a more significant impact on fern ale students.
There are also many factors that contribute to lower female enrolrnent,
such as early marriage, early pregnancies, mixed gender classrooms, curric-
ula, distances to school, expenses for school and household labour loss when
girls attend school. Another hindrance is the perception that school programs
are not suitable to girls' socially accepted roles. Hence, a preference for
sewing predorninates because it is linked to the girls' future roles as rnothers
and housewives.
At the university level, the girls are more attracted to arts, linguistics, and
social sciences studies (89%), and very few get enrolled in scientific studies.
This reinforces the social attitude of the occupational roles of girls in the
Another aspect is vocational training and the marginal opportunities in
this area provided for fern ales in addition to the absence of this training in
rural areas, lack of fern ale professionals in this field, and the attitude of soci-
ety towards this kind of training.

Gender and Economic Participation

Yernen has faced significant challenges, such as a drop in per capita GNP
frorn $700 in the 90's to $325 in 2000. Unernployment and poverty has al-
most doubled and is estirnated at 35% and 33% respectively.
While there has been little research conducted on the gender impact of
these challenges and reforms, it is clear that due to gender inequalities the
The Transition in the Situation ofWomen in Yemen 115

majority of women are ill-equipped to face economic uncertainties, either

independently or in a supporting role.
Key gender issues that impact economic participation inc1ude mobility,
infrastructure, and invisibility. The issue of mobility inc1udes a range of
movement unaccompanied by a male family member. Furthermore, afford-
able transportation is an issue for the majority in both rural and urban areas,
but its impact on women is far greater due to social attitudes and financial
Infrastructure issues of relevance inc1ude the lack of affordable childcare
and access to credit. In the private sec tor, the non-enforcement of labour laws
results in gender-based discrepancies in wages and benefits. Generally, fe-
males are noticeably absent from business life, and a group of women re-
cently started to organise themselves and enter into this sphere. Usually,
women who are active in the private business sector are often engaged in
non-formal activities that are often conducted in private hornes in sex-segre-
gated environments.
It is worth mentioning that an underlying assumption in society is that it
is ideal for women to be cared for by their male family members. And yet,
this gender attitude has become empty of meaning as male family members
are increasingly unable to meet basic family needs for food and shelter. This
means that women, and thus children, are even more vulnerable to economic,
political, and social inequalities as traditional forms of support deteriorate. In
addition, this has led to increased rates of female headed households in urban
and rural areas, which have reached to 10% and 13% respectively.
As part of economic reform, the government has taken seriously the issue
of poverty and established a number of mechanisms as a social safety net.
Again, women's ignorance of their rights poses baITiers to benefiting from
these measures.
A significant proportion of the labour force is employed in the agricul-
tural sector, which absorbs 62% even though this sec tor contributes only 15%
of GDP and 2% of exports, reflecting the underdevelopment of the sec tor.
Over 40% of women are employed in this sec tor, accounting for over 90% of
total fern ale employment. Most female agricultural labour is unpaid, as the
women tend to work on family property. Moreover, the gender division of
labour has fern ale farmers performing the most labour-intensive tasks while
relying on manual or simple tools. Female farmers usually cultivate rain-fed
land producing basic food crops for family consumption whereas male farm-
ers are responsible for the production of cash crops on iITigated land.
Women's contribution is also significant in the service sec tor, which em-
ploys 21 % of the female labour force, and this figure increases gradually but
steadily as women get more education and due to economic press ures.
Another key gender issue related to labour is that women' s economic
contribution in various sectors is not inc1uded in statistical data largely be-
116 Rashida A. AI-Hamdani

cause women are heavily involved in unpaid labour, and surveys do not
probe for female activities outside the horne.
The issue of illiteracy keeps coming up in each and every sec tor as lack
of educational opportunities and vocational training keeps many women
ignorant of market needs and requirements, opportunities, and access to

GovernmentJ International Efforts

Despite the chaIIenges since its unification, the government has succeeded in
overcoming many obstacles and bottlenecks. The economy has been stabi-
lised; conflicts and tensions with neighbouring countries have been resolved;
and strategic planning has been developed to ensure sustainable development
and enhance peoples' lives.
Key gender issues are the development of many strategies for girls' edu-
cation, literacy, health, population, gender, female labour, eradication of
poverty, etc., in addition to five-year development plans and the strategic
vision 2025 as a long-term remedy for challenges. These efforts have been
supported by a marked increase in data coIIection, surveys and research
studies. Measures are also accelerating in decentralisation, community par-
ticipation, public freedom, human rights, and the establishment of a social
security network.
The government efforts have been supported by international assistance,
which was suspended for quite a number of years following the Gulf Crisis
but has continued steadily since 1995. Nonetheless, there are issues of some
concern on this aspect, such as high dependency on foreign aid, lack of co-
ordination, duplication of activities, etc.

Future Prospects

Women in Yemen have high aspirations for advancement during this new
millennium. There are many issues they seek to achieve, including bridging
gen der gaps in all sectors, mainly education, health, and employment; in-
creasing political appointments for women in key positions and women's
involvement and presentation in the parliament, consultative and local coun-
cils, and political parties; upgrading women's skills and the transfer of know-
how for long-term capacity building at aII levels of development; increasing
women's involvement in planning and development interventions; strength-
ening gender focal points in li ne ministries, governorates, and civil society to
ensure gender mainstreaming; strengthening women's networking and part-
The Transition in the Situation ofWomen in Yemen 117

nership within the country and abroad; developing a database on gender; fa-
cilitating bank credits for wornen; achieving a fair distribution between rnen
and wornen and urban and rural in the workforce; revising gender insensitive
legislation and closing the gap between legislation and law enforcernent; and
ultirnately, raising wornen's awareness of their rights in general.
Rokhsana M. Ismail

New Perspectives and Challenges for Women's Studies

at Aden University, Yemen

The University of Aden established the Woman's Research and Training

Centre as an integrating institution, stressing the university's role in the
service of society in general and most specifically in community develop-
ment. The centre's main focus is on improving Yemeni women's position, a
task of national interest linked to the recognition of women's roles in differ-
ent fields.
The establishing of the centre was motivated by the recognition that it is
important to raise the consciousness of decision-makers on women's issues.
This is aprerequisite for promoting the implementation of various recom-
mendations in women's favour and to achieve women's active and effective
participation in the process.
This paper reflects on these efforts and presents the centre's activities
and strategies, including an excerpt from a training module developed to raise
awareness of gender issues and to enhance discourses in Yemen.

A Gender Training Module: Frequently Asked Questions

As the centre aims to train not just women but also male members of the
university and the general public in gen der awareness, the following "fre-
quently asked questions" are one of the primary means of practical and theo-
retical introduction.

What does the term gender mean?

While the term "sex" refers to the biological dimension, "gender" (from Latin
genus) stresses the culturally specific roles that are attributed to women and
men in society. These are not determined by biological features and disposi-
tions but by structural and individual conditions, cultural rules, norms, and
120 Rokhsana M. Ismail
taboos. Gender roles and gender hierarchies vary from one culture to the
other and can be changed.

Why are so many men uncomfortable discussing gender?

The gender concept directs attention to the disparities between the sexes and
explains thern with cultural rather than biological reasons. Consequently,
women' s promotion and advancement is considered as one element for
achieving equality between the sexes. Discussing gender relations illuminates
the fact that women are discriminated against and that men (mostly) benefit
from the gender system. Men feel threatened, as they fear losing power, con-
trol, and identity.
The gender concept implies that gender systems can be changed. Trans-
formations towards more equality mean that men also have the responsibility
to fight inequality and that they have to change their attitudes towards
women. On the other hand, reflecting upon the roles that are attributed to
them, men realise that they also lose out on many opportunities because they
are not allowed to live as full human beings.
Men usually find it very useful to consider gen der and gen der relations in
their work and lives once they have learned that they also benefit from ap-
plying the concept, as communication and understanding between the sexes
improve significantly.

Why is gender a development issue?

Wornen and men are contributing to development in all arenas. Whether it is

in their personal lives. or society as a whole, both men and women rely on
each other. The more equal gender relations are and the more men and
women work hand in hand, the better they can improve and develop.
Women comprise fifty percent of the population, and if they are dis-
criminated against or ignored, development is not taking place.
Furthermore, as we all live together in this world, it is the duty of all that
everybody has the same rights and opportunities to influence what is hap-

What is gender analysis, and how do we do it?

Gender analysis is an effort to und erstand the differences between the sexes
regarding conditions of life and satisfaction of needs, access to and control
over resources, access to and participation in development, and issues of
New Perspectives and Challengesfor Women's Studies 121

decision making, incIuding matters regarding the different roles attributed to

women and men.
Gender analysis highlights the unequal distribution of advantages and
disadvantages for women and men in a society or within a topic and reveals
the underlying causes of structural gender inequality.
Doing gender analysis incIudes the use of data disaggregated by sex
and/or exploring the different concerns and interests of women and men in
relation to an issue. Gender analysis considers the differential consequences
of policies, strategies, etc. for women and men and identifies measures that
contribute to more equal gender relations.

What is the difference between the gender concept and women's

promotion and advancement?

The promotion of women is done in order to achieve equal conditions for

women. The concept refers to the underprivileged situation of women in all
spheres of life and aims to equip women with the necessary capacity to over-
come inequality. Women's promotion is done for women and by women.
The gender concept acknowledges disparities between the sexes and re-
gards women's promotion as one element to reach equality between the
sexes. It regards inequality as socially and historically constructed and having
impact on the lives of both women and men. Thus, both sexes must take
responsibility and address gender issues.

Will gender integration cause more work?

No! The integration of a new concept to work with is, however, achallenge
for an organisation as weIl as for an individual. But once properly introduced
and understood (if necessary accompanied by training), everybody will be
qualified to integrate gender in all actual tasks. Once one is trained to use the
instruments provided, it will become routine.

Who should be involved in gender integration?

Everyone! It does not make sense that only one or a few people know about
gender. Knowledge isnever a liability! Performing a job also incIudes ex-
change and comrnunication about one's work with others. Therefore, it is
crucial that all are competent and can contribute. Of course, there may be
need to differentiate between the different tasks staff members have to per-
form; that is, not everybody must know how to conduct gender analysis. But,
122 Rokhsana M. Jsmail

a basic understanding of the concept and its implications is crucial. Integrat-

ing gender will ease everybody's duty and bring about synergy.

How will we benefitfrom integrating gender?

First of all, we are learning something new, or we will be gaining some new
ideas that build upon our knowledge. In this regard, we are gaining further
qualification in an issue that is required by more and more employers. We
will also feel better because others will share our efforts, and we will be part
of the debate. We will be provided with instruments that we can also use for
other elements of our work, and we can change and adapt them to other is-
sues. We will see the world with new eyes and therefore become part of soci-
ety' s empowerment of people.

Teaching and Training Gender in the University

Teaching and training gender within the university aims at no less than
changing the institution as a whole. Consequently, gender issues are impor-
tant on all structural levels and impact the content, methods, and language
being used when administering, teaching, training, or doing research.
As a first step, the Woman's Research & Training Centre at Aden Uni-
versity organised meetings and workshops with teachers and instructors who
were interested in gender relations within the university and gen der studies.
Together with researchers and post graduate students they exchanged infor-
mation, started discussions, and developed strategies for teaching and train-
ing gender.

Adaptation of Methodology

It is necessary to adapt methodologies of teaching and tutoring based on

independent materials. In order to plan and prepare such curricula as weIl as
to introduce them into the university programs, the methodological frame-
work must be part of an integrated strategy.
New Perspectives and Challengesfor Women's Studies 123

Gendered Language and Introduction of Gendered Terminology into

University Curricula

Gender relations - be they between men or women, fathers or mothers, sons

or daughters - are reflected in all aspects of everyday life as weIl as in all lev-
els of education and science. They are, consequently, inscribed into the lan-
guage used. Therefore, the introduction of terminology connected with the
issue of gender is considered to be an urgent necessity in both general educa-
tion and at the university level.
Although gendered language is, on one hand, ubiquitous, on the other,
this fact lacks scientific awareness in the Arab world. While depending on
the support of our heritage, history , and our genuine ArabiclIslamic culture
we also need to include the latest useful scientific knowledge. This refers to
the development of gender sensitive terminology and its integration in a cor-
rect scientific form, concept, and method.

Supporting Research Related to Gender

In view of the newness of this field of scientific knowledge and research and
still emerging theoretical, conceptual, and practical dimensions, researchers
need encouragement and support to enter this field. This is particularly rele-
vant with respect to young researchers like post-graduate students going for
M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees. Possible strategies or initiatives include: first, en-
riching the knowledge concerning gender; second, formation of highly spe-
cialised professionals; third, enhancement of strategies for teaching and
training of gender; and finaIly, overcoming ideological quarrels with well-
based research results.
The following are examples of research that has been initiated and im-
plemented by the Woman's Research & Training Centre at Aden University.
In the area of sociology, education, and psychology, issues addressed so far
include violence against women - domestic violence in Aden, the effect of
unemployment on violence, female education in Aden Governorate, the ef-
fect of unemployment on the education of children, the situation of children
in the labour market in Yemen, and the role of privatisation and its effect on
women in south-eastern Yemen.
Medical research is an equally important field. Studies done in this field
include lead levels in deciduous teeth of children in Yemen (Aden, Sana' a,
Taiz), prevention of perinatal hepatitis B infection through screening of preg-
nant women in Aden Governorate, gen der and sexually transmitted diseases,
the prevalence of uterine cervical carcinoma in south-eastern Yemen for the
period 1995-1999.
124 Rokhsana M. Ismail

Conferences, Symposiums, and Workshops on Gender

Scientific conferences, symposiums on cultural, social, and political issues,

as weH as practical workshops are among the most effective means of teach-
ing and training gender. They provide the best chances to disseminate infor-
mation and track new developments related to gender, opening up the poten-
tiality for the changing of opinions and/or the creation of joint opinions
among those participating.

Curricula and Courses of University Education (Aden University)

It is certain that university education, with its multiple dimensions and spe-
cialisations and its increasing outreach initiatives, constitutes a viable envi-
ronment for teaching and training gender. University education idealIy pro-
vides a large space for analysis and application as weIl as influences future
professionals. Thus, it is necessary to adopt courses on gender issues in soci-
ology, psychology, public health, education, Islamic studies, and population
studies as welI as transdisciplinary courses.
As the first step, the W oman' s Research & Training Centre selected three
faculties in which to start the integration of gender concepts and gender is-
sues into the university curricula: the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of
Arts, and the Faculty of Lawful Rights. A special committee was formed to
study how to introduce gen der concepts into the terminology of these facul-

Teaching and Training Gender Beyond the University

In order to be successful, university strategies for teaching and training gen-

der have to be connected to alI educationallevels as weIl as to public culture
and media. This starts with the curricula of primary and secondary schools
but also applies to specialised institutions of education and training, be they
private, regional, or national.
Attention should also be directed towards governmental and non-gov-
ern mental information services and cultural institutions, mass and party-or-
ganisations, and organisations of Yemeni women. Co-operative efforts of
several or at best alI of these institutions will bring about synergy that will
not only benefit Yemeni women but also the community as a whole. Two
crucial areas - school curricula and guidance/religious teaching - warrant
further specification.
New Perspectives and Challengesfor Women's Studies 125

Educational Curricula

The goal should be to dedicate not less than ten percent of the content of the
national educational books for primary schools to gender issues, so to en-
Iighten youth about relations between men and women, fathers and mothers,
brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, etc. In secondary schools and Is-
lamic education, this share should be increased and incIude not only the hu-
manities but also science lessons, in order to reach youth in the critical stage
of adolescence.
It is important for students to learn about gender as acquired social func-
tions that define access to social properties, e.g. division of labour between
men and women. In simple language, students should be taught that social
roles of masculinity and femininity are distinct from concepts of biological
species or biological sex. Concepts to teach this have to emanate from our
Arabic culture, our Shari'a (Islamic law) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).
All three are invaluable for dealing with such issues, as they have developed
rational visions that take into account variations of time and place while
staying away from excitement about or dazzle over what is coming from
abroad - the foggy temptation to egotism.

Guidance and Religious Teaching

When discussing gender and religion, there are two widely disseminated
views, both of which are based on mi stakes and both increasing erroneous
trends in thinking and tackling the issues of gender. One is the belief that the
Islamic religion is against the rights of women and against gender equality;
the other is the belief that speech about gen der is a speech against religion,
which is based on mistaken interpretations.
In their original enlightened sources, the Islamic religion in general and
the Shari'a, the Islamic law, specifically, address the issues of masculinity,
femininity, marriage, pregnancy, delivery and breast feeding in an unmatched
manner with respect to details, precise description, and intellectual dimen-
sions. This refers also to gender relations, between men and women, fathers
and mothers, husbands and wives, etc.
Considering that religion is the deepest and most influential factor in our
Arabic and Islamic conduct and culture, gen der issues cannot be addressed
apart from religion. We have to overcome the above mentioned views that
are eminently blocking efforts for gender equality and obstructing the under-
standing of Islam.
Enlightened positions in Islamic legislation and jurisprudence provide
first-rate contributions to gen der issues. We need to reflect on them when
looking for religious guidance and teaching at all levels. Combined with
elementary and secondary schooling that also addresses gender, it will -
126 Rokhsana M. Jsmail

among other benefits - provide a basis to further women's education at the

university level.

Gender in Seien ce and Technology

The University of Aden has given special attention to the development of

female professionals in the fields of science and technology although the
standard required has not yet been reached.
If we look at Aden University's scientific centres, we find that the overal1
percentage of females in their teaching and training staff is 32 %, varying
between 0 % in the Centre of Environment Studies and in the University
Consultancy Centre and 83% in the Woman's Research and Training Centre.

Table No. 1: Number of Teaching and Training Staff in the Scientific

Centres of Aden University
Centres Male Female Total
1. Centre lor Yemeni Research & Studies 4 2 6
2. The Training & Continuing Education Centre 4 1 5
3. The Computer Centre 5 2 7
4. The University Consultancy Centre 2 2
5. The Language Institute 6 4 10
6. Centre lor British & American Studies and Translation. 4 2 6
7. Centre 01 Environment Studies and Sciences 3 3
8. The Science & Technology Centre 3 4
9 . Centre 01 Agriculture Consultancy & Community Services 10 3 13
10.The Woman's Research & Training Cent re 1 5 6
Total 42 20 62

Nevertheless, the University of Aden has devoted much attention to the proc-
ess of training and education, and statistics show that the number of females
receiving scientific education has increased considerably in the last two dec-
ades, compared to the situation during the first decades after the foundation
of the university. This is c\early visible in Table No. 2.

Table No. 2
Academic years 1975 - 1980 Academic Years 1998 -1999
Academic Qualilication M F Academic Qualilication M F
Ph.D. 18 Ph.D. 359 45
M.Sc. 47 M.Sc. 218 60
High Diploma 3 High Diploma 34 8
Bachelor 149 32 Bachelor 259 68
New Perspectives and Challenges for Women 's Studies 127

Once again, we stress the importance of the participation of women in sci-

ence and technology, and in order to accomplish this, we propose the fol-
lowing steps: first, accelerated realisation of the "education for aIl" principle,
including good and equal educational opportunities for both sexes that would
necessarily lead to the universality of basic education among the young as
weIl as the eradication of adult illiteracy, especially among women; second,
encouraging women to specialise in science and technology and to participate
in research teams doing applied research in technology development as weIl
as in technology transfer activities; third, the creation of professional infor-
mation systems in the field of science, accessible by educational and training
establishments in order to circulate them among women; and fourth, moti-
vating and empowering women to enter the job market in the science and
technology area, requiring a package of financial and "spiritual" incentives.
The centre stresses the importance of the relationship between science
and national development; women need to be prepared to enter science fields
in view of the fact that science is essential to the development and advance-
ment of society.
Thus, the efforts of Aden University to improve technical and scientific
education and applied research, especially in programs and subjects related to
basic needs, e.g. water, sanitation, hygiene, should continue to be supported.
And, to promote and highlight women's participation in these crucial efforts,
the Woman's Research and Training Centre proposes the establishment of an
annual prize for women researchers. The contestants are to be chosen and
announced at the beginning of each year with a prize awarded to the three
best research projects by women on the eighth of March.
Josi Salem- Pickartz

Women's Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks


The following paper is presented from a transnational, c1inical psychological

perspective, which acknowledges that its concepts and views are primarily
based on a Western scientific and political background. At the same time, it
aspires to provide, as much as possible, a view from inside Jordanian society,
based on the twelve year life experience and professional practice of the
author in Jordan as a cIinical psychologist, researcher, trainer, and policy
advisor, in addition to reference to local research data.
The community mental health and empowerment approach deli vers the
conceptual framework for the presentation. This means that it analyses
women's status in Jordan in answer to the main question: how far, in fact, are
women able or have chances to gain control of their living conditions? Ac-
cess to resources, participation in decision making, and potential and prac-
tices of self-organization are explored in particular as they are important
constituents of this capability to exert control.

The Context: Geographieal, PoIitieaI, Eeonomic, and

Demographie Charaeteristics of Jordan


Jordan is a semi-arid Middle Eastern country with twenty-five percent arable

land that lies mainly in the western heights and the Jordan Valley. It shares
borders with Palestine and Israel to the west, Syria and Iraq to the north and
east, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south. Jordan's state boundaries were
first designed in the Sykes - Picot proposal of 1916, which divided thefor-
mer Ottoman province of Greater Syria into a French and British influenced
130 Josi Salem- Pickartz

History and politics

Since 1921, the Hashemite royal family has ruled Jordan. It became an inde-
pendent state in 1946. After the declaration of the Israeli state in 1948, hun-
dreds of thousands of Palestinians found refuge in Jordan, and Jordan occu-
pied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The constitution was created in
1952, making Jordan a constitutional inherited monarchy with far reaching
powers for the king. The king heads the executive government and the legis-
lative national assembly. According to the constitution, the king is the final
decision maker in all important issues: he heads the army; appoints and dis-
misses the prime minister, the cabinet, and the senate; opens and terminates
the work of the parliament; and confirms draft laws. In collaboration with
parliament, he decides on peace, war, and international treaties.
The mid-50s saw aseparation from British influence and a temporary
democratization, yet martiallaw reigned from 1957 until 1989, following an
attempt to overthrow the government. Parliament was dissolved and political
parties forbidden. In 1967, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied
by Israel, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled again to Jordan. In
1974, Jordan recognized the PLO as sole representation of the Palestinian
people, and in 1988 it gave up its claim to the West Bank. Since 1989, par-
liamentary elections have been held again every four years, and political
parties were on ce more legalized in 1992. In 1994, Jordan signed the peace
treaty with Israel. This peace treaty met strong internal political opposition in
the country and raised at the same time hopes for an improvement of the
ailing local economy. These hopes have, however, been largely disappointed
(Köndgen 1999: 100).


From 1973 to 1983, Jordan experienced an average annual GDP growth rate
of 11 % in the wake of the regional oil boom. Regional recession, the decline
in oil prices, and Arab aid led, however, to negative growth between 1987
and 1990. The first half of the 1990s saw areal growth rate of the GDP once
again, due to investments of Iordanians who returned to their home country
and invested their private savings and capital in private sector projects. This
growth has, however, not been sustainable. Since 1996, the real per capita
income has declined annually on average by 2% (Jordan Human Develop-
me nt Report/ JHDR 2000: 19).
Jordan has been undergoing an economic adjustment and privatization
pro gram since 1988 yet has maintained a high foreign debt, which still
amounted to $ 7.51 billion in 1999 (JHDR 19). The adjustment program has
tightened the labour market, especially public sector employment, which has
so far employed 37% of the total work force (JHDR 67). Studies on poverty
Wornen' s Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks 131
indicate an increase of the percentage of households living in poverty from
19% to 21% between 1987 and 1992. Other Jordanian, World Bank,
ESCWA, UNDP and government studies conducted in the 1990s place pov-
erty within a range of 14 - 31 % (JHDR 21). Currently, two-thirds of the
labour force work in the services sector, 18% in trade, 14% in industry, and
7.7% in agriculture (JHDR 65).


Next to the original Transjordanians, a large number of Jordanians are of

Palestinian origin. This segment is estimated to constitute between 50 and
70% of the total population, according to various researchers, but official
numbers have not been released. There are also substantial minorities of
Armenians, Circassians, and Tchechenians. Ninety-six percent are Sunni
Muslims and 4% Christians.
The total population reached 4.6 million in 1997, with an annual popula-
tion growth rate of 4%. About 79% of the population live in urban areas. The
under-thirty year olds constitutes 74% of the total population. Families have
on average 4.4 children, down from 7.4 children in 1979. The mean age of
marriage has remained rather stable for men at around twenty-five years in
the past four decades but has increased sharply for women, reaching the same
means in the 1990s.
Housing conditions in Jordan are generally good, with over 98% of all
Jordanians living in permanent, substantial housing, of wh ich 62% are
owned. Electricity supply and connection to the public water and sewage
systems are largely satisfactory. Environmental conditions and water supply
are, however, of growing concern. Jordan's estimated per capita available
water supply of 224 cubic meters per annum is the second lowest in the Mid-
dIe East, with only the West Bank and Gaza having lower supply (JHDR 13-

Women's Status: Facts and Figures

Women's status in Jordan is roughly indicated by the UNDP gender

empowerment measure (GEM) that is composed of women's share of earned
income, the percentage of fern ale professional and technical workers, the
percentage of female administrators and managers, and the share of parlia-
mentary seats held by women. With its percent of 95%, Jordan found itself in
1998 near the bottom of all 161 countries ranked in this respect. In contrast,
Jordan's human development index (HDI) in 1998, which is caIculated on the
132 Josi Salem- Pickartz

basis of life expectancy, education achievements, and the gross domestic

product was around the fiftieth percentile.
Over the last twenty years, previous inequalities for boys and girls with
regard to access to food, health care, and basic education have largely disap-


Girls and boys differ insignificantly with regard to gross education enrolment
rates in kindergarten (28% average), basic education first through tenth
grades (93% average), and secondary education eleventh and twelfth grades
(73% average) (JHDR 52). In secondary school, girls concentrate in the art
stream, but they also make up half of the students in the scientific stream.
The vocational training stream accounts for 36% of all secondary school
students, of whom one-third are females. These concentrate on nursing (80%)
and administration (54%), while males prefer agricultural, and industrial and
hotel management training (90%). The percentage of female university
graduates has multiplied by four since the late 70s. In 1997, 49% of all
students in higher education were females. Between 1990 and 1997, women's
share in community colleges increased from 57% to 65% but decreased from
45% to 42% at universities. At the university level, women tend to
concentrate in the field of liberal arts, humanities, education, and sciences,
where they constitute over 60% of all students. Men dominate in law,
engineering, business and administration and other fields with comparatively
good employment chances (JHDR 60).
According to most statistics, female students perform academically better
than their male counterparts on all levels; are more disciplined, committed,
and eager to learn; and have very low truancy and dropout rates.


In 1996, women's labour force participation rate was only 15%, compared to
72% for men (JHDR 65). Women work on average 3.7 years while men work
forty-four years. The majority of working women is younger than thirty
years, and they are proportionally better qualified than working men of this
age. Women concentrate in the fields of education, health services, social
work, and manufacturing. Only a small percentage of women run their own
enterprises, are self-employed, or help to run family businesses. In higher
education, women constitute 32.6% of teachers at community colleges but
only 13.4% of teachers at universities. Wage differences are slightly in fa-
vour of men. Average monthly wages for males who were registered with the
Social Security Corporation in 1997 were 126 JD, while they were 117 for
Women's Status in Jordan -Progress and Setbacks 133

women. In 1999, the unemployment rate of females was double the one of
males. Female unemployment is even more pronounced if women have more
than secondary education and live in rural areas.

Public Life

Women with elementary education were first given the right to vote in 1955.
The general right to vote and to be elected was gran ted in 1974, but because
of the martial law these rights were not fully practiced until 1989. Nine
women were appointed to the 190 member National Council that convened
between 1978 and 1982. Women voted for the first time in the parliamentary
by-elections in 1984, but no woman ran as candidate.
Twelve of the 647 candidates for the parliamentary elections in 1989
were women, three ran in 1993 and seventeen in the 1997 elections. Between
1993 and 1997, Toujan Faisal served as the only female MP Jordan has had
so far. An analysis of the experience of the fern ale candidates for parliament
in 1997 showed that the main factors that contributed to their failure were
lack of tribaI and family support, limited access to material resources, and
limited ability to provide wasta (personal mediation) in a political context
that emphasized tradition al tri baI values.
In the years 1989, 1993, and 1997, one, two, and three women senators
respectively were appointed. The first woman minister was appointed in
1979. Since then around six followed, mainly as ministers of social devel-
opment, information, and planning. So far, there have only been two fern ale
secretary-generals in ministries. The first two full female ambassadors were
appointed in 2001. In 1993, the first female advisor to the prime minister was
appointed, in 1996 the first fern ale judge. In 1995, with massive support of
the royal family, nine women were elected into the municipal councils; three
were elected in 1999.
Very few women are organized in labour unions but more so in profes-
sional associations where membership is compulsory. Here, they represent
14% of the total membership (Amawi 2001: 112), yet only two women have
so far succeeded in becoming members of executive committees.
Women hardly become members of political parties, and only two of the
seventeen fern ale candidates for the 1997 parliament ran with support from
the communist and the national constitutional parties respectively.
Only 2% of women (vs. 12% of men) are members of at least one non-
governmental organization (NGO). Most NGOs are concentrated in city
centres and are composed of mostly weIl-educated and economically weIl
established members. Women NGOs were first founded in 1944 and played a
crucial role in assisting Palestinian refugees and running community clinics
134 Josi Salem- Pickartz

and illiteracy programs. In 1952, the League to Defend Women's Rights was
founded, which laid the groundwork for the foundation of the Jordanian
Women's Union (JWU) in 1953. The JWU has been working, with interrup-
tions, since 1953 in the fields of women' s rights, the elimination of all forms
of discrimination against women, and the promotion of equal opportunities.
In 1966, all NGOs were prohibited to engage in political activities. In 1976
the Professional and Business Women Club was founded, which offers legal
and business counselling for women. The General Federation of Jordanian
Women (GFJW) was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization for grass-
roots women associations and societies. The GFJW is mainly involved in
educational and social development as weil as income generating and legal
awareness projects. Finally, the Jordanian National Forum for Women was
founded in 1995. It is chaired by HRH Princess Basma and aims at training
women in basic life skills and legal literacy, as weIl as strengthening their
role in development processes and political decision making bodies.

Determinants of Women's Status


According to Sharabi (1988: 45), Jordanian society is best understood as a

neo-patriarch al society that reinforces traditional values of family relation-
ships while at the same time accepting and promoting the modernization of
material means, for instance with regard to food, clothes, life style accesso-
ries, etc., as weIl as the development of institutions such as parliament, politi-
cal parties, NGOs, etc. Most private as weIl as public relationships continue
to be vertically organized and regulated according to patriarchal traditions,
which prescribe the superiority of the eIder and males over the younger and
females. Females are considered weak and in need of protection, and fern ales
who adhere to patriarch al traditions respect and accept male opinions and
decisions. Their tradition al role is the one of being a mother and housewife.


Jordan has remained a largely tri baI society in spite of urbanization and
evolving features of a welfare state. According to Nyrop (1980: 70-71), the
four main features of tribalism are factionalism, as sharp discrimination be-
tween those who belong to the tribe and those who do not; blood relation-
ships as more important than any other form of relationship; well-defined so-
Warnen 's Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks 135

cial obligations within a tribe and between tribes; and collective responsibil-
ity of the tribe for individual actions.
Faithfulness to the tribe and priority of family relationships continue to
prevail in most people's value system because tribaI relationships seem to be
more capable of fulfilling people's needs than state institutions. This is
mostly manifested in the "wasta" (personal mediation) system, in which
persons with a certain influence use their social status, economic, or political
power to fulfil the needs of their dependants, and thus secure their allegiance.
Public laws, rules, and regulations are often by-passed in such "wasta" proc-
esses, thus demonstrating their limited usefulness. Due to their inferior status
within the patriarchal organization of the tribe, women have, however, nearly
no opportunities to offer wasta to others - a fact that has largely contributed
to their failure to establish themselves as agents in the political game.
Although women have access to wasta through their tribe, they are dependent
on personal mediation through their men (fathers, brothers, uneles,
The influence of the familyon regulating women' s fate is an important
feature of tribalism. The family decides on their access to education, oppor-
tunities to work, marriage, and their freedom of movement in society. AI-
though nuelear families prevail nowadays in Jordanian society, two-thirds of
them live in elose proximity to relatives. Forty-seven percent of spouses are
first or second degree relatives, and 36% were born in the same neighbour-

Legal Discrimination

Although the equality of both sexes in prescribed in the Jordanian constitu-

tion and the National Charter of 1991, women's status differs from men's in
many laws, rules, and regulations. Women are particularly disadvantaged in
the Nationality Law, the Personal Status Law (with regard to child custody,
the choice of their spouse, work, and place of residence), the Social Security
and Health Insurance Laws, and the Penal Code (with regard to the pursuit of
honour crimes).
Jordan ratified CEDAW in 1992 with reservations against several articles
that demand women's equal status with men with regard to the nationality of
their children; freedom of movement and the choice of their residence and
domicile; rights and responsibilities during marriage and their dissolution, as
parents in maUers relating to their children and in the choice of the family
name, their profession, and their occupation.
136 Josi Salem- Pickartz

Development oi Civil Society Organizations

Jordan has had a very uneven history with regard to the development of civil
society. Until now, basic democratic rights, such as the freedom of assembly,
opinion, and the press, have not yet been fully gran ted in Jordan. In this his-
torical context, women have had only few opportunities to gain experience as
agents of political change and promote women's status and rights. The first
women's organizations that actively fought for women's legal equality were
dissolved in 1957 when Jordan came under martial law. Only few women
organized themselves in the political resistance movement and even then
mostly as hel pers to their male family members. Few women gained influ-
ence in labour unions and professional associations, wh ich provided until
1989 the only forum for political debates.
The women' s organizations that were founded in the 1970s and 1980s
were first and foremost a government response to the growing global recog-
nition of the need to address women's issues and channelled women's readi-
ness for action into voluntary activities. Like most other NGOs (and political
parties), they are usually run according to the same patriarchal principles that
govern personal relationships; they usually also have a member of the royal
family as honorary chairperson.
Women who want to engage in public life and politics face tripIe pres-
sure - from their families, as they step out of the realm of patriarchal control,
from employers as working women, and from the legacy of Jordan's political
history that has instilled in many citizens a deep-seated fear of political ac-
In the preparation and follow-up of the Fourth World Conference for
Women in Beijing in 1995, the Jordanian National Committee for Women
has gained some significance in drafting Jordan' s national strategy for
wornen and overseeing its implementation. It is a semi-governmental policy
forum with appointed members, of whom the rnajority is men, that was
founded in 1992 and is headed by Her Royal Highness Princess Basma. Since
the debate about areform of the penal code with regard to honour crimes in
200012001, which resulted in a far-reaching rejection of proposals for change
arnong others by parliament, its activities have, however, slowed down re-
markably. It appears that this initiative has questioned the core structure of
gender relationships in the country and, therefore, has experienced funda-
mental resistance.
Warnen 's Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks 137

Women's Perception oftheir Situation and Requirements of


In 1997, as a result of independent mutual consultation at the grassroots level,

Jordanian women formulated a women's agenda for the parliamentary period
1997 - 2001 that indicated the areas in which they feIt change was most
urgent. Their priorities were amendment of the Personal Status Law so as to
improve the status of women in case of divorce and child custody; amend-
ment of the Health Insurance Law to achieve greater equality between men
and women and independent heaIth insurance for mothers and children; crea-
tion of a Child Proteetion Law; amendment of the Nationality Law; creation
of a law that protects women from emotional and physical abuse by their
spouses; and introduction of a quota for women in parliament and the gov-
In a survey conducted in 1999, four hundred women aged 15 - 49 years
who lived outside Jordan's capital Amman were asked about their perception
of positive and negative elements of the situation of women their age in vari-
ous areas of life. They indicated the following:

Area Positive aspect Negative aspect

Family Active involvement in securing the lamily's Exclusion lrom decision making and
well-being (53%) suppression 01 the woman's personality
through lamily pressure (54%)
Community Participation in community activities (54%) Women's personality traits (shyness,
emotions) that limit their participation in
the community (44%)
Work Women's dedication and precision in work Depreciation 01 women's work and use 01
(50%) discouraging tactics (22%)
Education Women's ambitions to obtain education "Lack 01 support and discrimination against
(42%) educated women (50%)
Public lile Women's participation in voluntary activi- Shortcomings in the management 01
ties (55%) women's voluntary work (27%)
Politics Women reaching prominent political Women's lack 01 interest and lack 01
positions (35%) participation in politics (53%)
Legal rights Women need to play an active role in this Women's ignorance and negligence 01
domain (40%) their legal rights (27%)

Also in 1999, sixty women activists across Jordan were asked to indicate the
level of their aspirations and their view of the major obstac1es to women' s
achievement of influence and decision making positions in professional,
public, and political1ife. Whereas 56.7% of the activists aimed at becoming
more influential in their profession, 53.3% wanted to exert more influence
within NGOs, and 30% aimed at achieving an influential position in political
life. They saw the following as main obstac1es to the strengthening of
138 Josi Salem- Pickartz

wornen's influence: wornen's multiple responsibility as wives, mothers, and

housewives; lack of social acceptance for women who are active in their
profession, in the community, and in politics; and lack of mutual support
among women.

The Role of Gender Studies Pro grams in Women's


As described before, women's status in Jordan with regard to taking charge

of their lives and participating in decision making is currently determined by
a number of factors that interact across various levels of societal organiza-
tion. Bronfenbrenner' s ecological model of human development is helpful in
analysing this complex web of conditions. He distinguishes between four
levels of social organisation. The microsystem includes the relationships
between the woman and her immediate environment. The mesosystem refers
to the relationships among various microsystems in which women participate
actively on a regular basis, such as horne, school and university, work places,
extended families, etc. The exosystem includes settings that influence
women' s experiences indirectly, like health and education systems, transpor-
tation, legal services, civil society organizations, etc. The macrosystem fi-
naIly consists of the overarching ideology, values, laws, regulations, and
customs of a particular culture as weIl as global influences.
On the microsystem level, women's status in their families is still very
often determined by tribaI and patriarchal values that prescribe to her a sub-
ordinate and controlIed status of dependency. The education system has be-
corne a second acknowledged realm for women's activities. Women's work
outside the horne is also becoming a more needed and accepted sphere of
existence, although attitudes towards work, as shared by wornen and rnen, are
equally conflicting on both sides. In times of econornic distress, wornen are,
however, again econornicaIly disadvantaged and pressured to drop out of the
work force. Civil society organizations have become relevant for only a rni-
nority of wornen who want to exert influence in public life. This is mainly
because of Jordan's political history and the counter position of such organi-
zations to traditional patterns of social organization.
On the macrosystem level, public attitudes, laws, and regulations still
predominantly reflect tribaI and patriarchal values. At the same time, Jordan
has always been strongly ernbedded in regional and global processes of eco-
nornic and political change and has, therefore, been extensively exposed to
global ideologies that have in recent years heavily stressed values such as
human rights, democratisation, and equality.
Women 's Status in Jordan - Progress and Setbacks 139

As a result of this influence, women's status has become a subject of

public dialogue certainly since 1995. Nowadays, women seem to be more
aware of their female identity, not only in relation to men but also as a quality
that they share with other women. However, forms of female solidarity are
still in the beginning stages, and women often lack knowledge, means, and
the courage to take action in order to achieve change in their lives. Here, the
acquisition of abilities for cooperation and teamwork, problem analysis, and
problem solving appear important.
A women and gender studies programme can be a means to influence
change in favour of women on various levels of societal organization. To
achieve this purpose, such a programme needs to be initiative in sharpening
awareness for gender differences and the unequal distribution of power and
access to resources through research; establishing anational knowledge base
of the local, regional, and global situation of women and changes of women's
status across history and societies; providing means and skills for change
through training women - and men - as change agents, among others, in
research methodology, problem analysis, problem solving, team work, con-
flict resolution, strategic planning, etc.; and supporting women's pr.ojects that
aim at achieving gender equality with technical advice.
This will only be successful, however, if a women and gender studies
programme is able to play, in fact, an active role in public debate and devel-
opment processes, and its goals and content are developed and implemented
by professionals, administrators and students who are inspired by this vision.


AI Kutba Institute for Human Development and Konrad Adenauer Foundation: Jorda-
nian women' s guide to participation in public and politicallife. Amman 1998
AI Kutba Institute for Human Development and Konrad Adenauer Foundation:
Women in Jordan - empowered or handicapped? Amman 2002
Amawi, Abla: Against all odds - Jordanian women, elections and political em-
powerment. AI Kutba Institute for Human Development and Konrad Adenauer
Foundation. Amman 2001
Bronfenbrenner, Uri: The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and
design. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1979
Davison, Gerald C./Neale, John M.: Klinische Psychologie - Ein Lehrbuch.
München,Weinheim: Psychologie Verlags Union, 1988
Koendgen, Olaf: Jordanien. München: C.H.Beck Verlag, 1999
Ministry of Planning and UNDP: Jordan Human Development Report 2000. Amman
2000 (JHDR)
Nyrop, Richard F. (Ed.): Jordan: A country study. Washington D.C.: The American
University Foreign Area Studies, 1980
140 Josi Salem- Pickartz
Sharabi, Hisham: Neopatriarchy: A theory of distorted change in Arab society. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1988
Sommer, GertiErnst, Heiko: Gemeindepsychologie - Therapie und Praevention in der
sozialen Umwelt. München: Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1977
Yasmin Haddad

The Women's Studies Program at the University of

Jordan: Current Status and Prospects for the Future


The Master of Arts Program in Women's Studies was established in 1999 as

one of the first interdisciplinary programs at the University of Jordan. The
decision to inc1ude this program of study reflects the recognition of/and con-
cern with gender and women issues that have dominated the social-political
scene in recent years.
The program aims at developing specialized personnel in the area of
women' s studies who are both capable of conducting research and qualified
in planning and implementing policies to strengthen women's roles locally,
regionally, and internationally.
This general goal is further translated into more specific objectives.
These inc1ude: helping students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary
for understanding and reinforcing women's participation in community and
public life; developing students' awareness of contemporary issues related to
women, both locally and internationally, and enabling them to deal with these
issues on a scientific basis; helping students acquire skills related to quantita-
tive research and training them in research methods related to women's roles
in their communities; and, emphasizing student's personal development and
In evaluating the program, one should take into consideration cultural-
specific criteria for assessing an academic program in women' s studies in a
particular social context: To what extent does the program meet the needs of
local women economically, socially, politicaIly, or educationaIly? Are the
products of this program, in terms of knowledge and skills acquired, readily
applicable in the Jordanian locale? To wh at extent does the program provide
a basis for the prospects of social change needed in this domain?
This paper will introduce the women's studies program at the University
of 10rdan's as the only program in this field offered by a 10rdanian
university. An attempt is then made to evaluate the program and suggest
prospects for future developments. A brief review of the literature on the
impact of women' s studies courses is presented first.
The impact of women's studies courses has been intensively investigated
over the last three decades. The gains seem to inc1ude cognitive and affective
142 Yasmin Haddad

as weIl as behavioural aspects. Stake and Gerner (1987), for example, re-
ported improvements in women's studies students' self-esteem, job motiva-
tion, and confidence in their capacities to achieve job-related goals. Several
studies have documented women's studies' impact on attitudes and beliefs
about women and sex roles (Ruble et al. 1975; Scott et al. 1977) and more
positive and less sexist attitudes toward women (Jones and Jacklin 1988).
The more profound cognitive effects incIude changes from perceiving reality
as deterministic in shaping behaviour and personality to perceiving reality as
malleable, amenable to change, and subject to cultural and historical infIu-
ence (Howe 1985).
At the behavioural level, the impact of women's studies courses in-
creased feminist activism (Stake et al. 1994). Students of women' s studies
reported positive changes in their interactions with others and willingness to
adopt new roles and behaviours (Stake et al. 1994).
In arecent piece of research, Henderson-King and Stewart (1999) pro-
vided strong evidence of the efficacy of taking women' s studies courses in
raising feminist consciousness in women' s studies students. These research-
ers examined how the exposure to feminism through a women' s studies
course affects women's social identity and feminist consciousness. The re-
searchers measured feminist consciousness at the beginning and end of a
semester during wh ich some research participants were enrolled in an intro-
ductory women's studies course. This group of participants was compared
with students who were interested, but not enroIled, in women's studies.
The result of this investigation provided strong evidence for the effects of
women' s studies courses on feminist consciousness. The researchers found,
using a broad array of indicators of feminist consciousness, that students
changed during the semester studies course. These students evidenced more
feminist attitudes about gender relations and gender inequities in social
power and influence. In addition, they became more sensitive to sexism in
their lives. They also became more positive toward feminists and more self-
identified as feminists over the semester.
The researchers took these findings as evidence of a coordinated shift in
measures of more intellectual and more affective, more political and more
private, and more social and more personal aspects of feminist consciousness.
Social identity theory would predict that in the interest of enhancing self-
esteern, women's feelings about feminists would become more positive as
identification with feminists increased (396).
An interesting finding in this investigation indicates that increments in
positive attitudes toward feminists is neither associated with increments in
positive attitudes toward women nor with more negative attitudes toward
men. These findings counter the fears that women's studies courses affect
women's attitudes toward men negatively.
The Women's Studies Program at the University 0/ Jordan 143

The Academic Context of the Pro gram on Women's Studies

The University of Jordan, like Jordan itself, combines both tradition and
change. From modest beginnings in 1962 as one "College of Arts," the uni-
versity has become one of the largest institutions in the region comprising
seventeen faculties that offer over 5,000 undergraduate and 800 graduate
courses a year with a student population of 23,000 students, of which about
3,000 are currently pursuing graduate studies.
At present, Jordan has twenty universities spanning the various regions
of the country, yet a good number of them are located around the capital of
Amman. Enrolment rates do not vary between the two sexes at Jordanian
universities, although gender disparities are in favour of females, as at the
University of Jordan. However, fern ale enrolment rates drop at the graduate
level, where the numbers of females is limited to only a quarter of that of
Traditional attitudes also seem to prevail in the choice of academic fields
as females continue to predominate in the faculties of religion, humanities,
and educational sciences. As it would be expected, the percentage of females
in the university teaching staff is much lower than that of males, reaching the
level of 13% at most.
In spite of the large percentage of female students studying at the univer-
sity level and their predomination in particular colleges, the Master of Arts
Pro gram in Women's Studies offered by the University of Jordan is the only
program in women's studies offered by a Jordanian university. Moreover, the
department of psychology at the University of Jordan is the only department
that offers a course related to women's studies, viz psychology of women.
Although it is an elective course, all students, the majority of whom are fe-
males, choose to take the course, reportedly considering it a transforming
The study plan of the woman's studies program inc1udes two groups of
courses. The group consists of compulsory courses: "Women in Society,"
"Feminist Theory," "Research Design," "Women's Psychology," and a semi-
nar. The second group is comprised of three elective courses to be chosen
from the following: "CuItural Representation of Women," "Gender Issues,"
"Women and Politics," "Women and Development," "Women in History,"
"Women in Literature" and "Women's Health." Originally, the program
required preparing a master's thesis - to be conducted on the basis of empiri-
cal data, in general. However, a non-thesis track was recently endorsed that
substitutes three compulsory courses and a comprehensive examination for
the thesis requirement.
Administratively, the women's studies program is associated with the
Faculty of Graduate Studies. The justification for this administrative ar-
rangement is the interdisciplinary nature of the program. This state of affairs
144 Yasmin Haddad

has given the program a distinctive position - as it was the first program to be
linked to the FacuIty of Graduate Studies in this capacity. Faculty members
who are interested in gender and women's issues are drawn from academic
departments relevant to the particular course domain. As only two faculty
members are assigned permanent positions in the program, a committee that
comprised an additional three members was formed as the program council in
charge of administrative and academic responsibilities. Yet, one observes a
lesser degree of autonomy in the decisions taken by this council relative to
that afforded to other academic programs of the university.
Admiuing fifteen students per year, the program attracts well-qualified
and highly motivated students from a wide array of academic backgrounds,
the majority of whom are females. Given the small number of facuIty mem-
bers teaching in the program and the relatively large number of students
admitted each year, some difficulties arose in securing research supervisors -
astate of affairs that led, as mentioned earlier, to offering a non - thesis
Early in the development of the program, an agreement between the Uni-
versity of Jordan and York University of England was put forth. This agree-
ment provided the opportunity to establish academic contacts between the
two universities, wh ich resulted from a number of exchange visits and finan-
cial support to secure library materials and teaching aids to the women' s
studies program at the University of Jordan. An international conference on
the "Contemporary Issues Facing Jordanian Women" was held at the Univer-
sity of Jordan. The theme addressed by the majority of participants was an
analysis of feminism within an Arab context, in addition to discussions about
methodological issues that arise in researching women's issues cross-cultur-
ally. A major issue that arose was concerned with the applicability of western
feminists' perspectives in the Arab context.
Plans are underway to secure the needed specialists in women' s studies
through scholarships provided by the university to qualified candidates.
However, the institutionalization of the program as part of the Faculty of
Graduate Studies has isolated it from the rest of the university - astate of
affairs that needs to be reconsidered. In spite of the fact that interested facuIty
members received the idea of establishing a women's studies program with
enthusiasm, there was less enthusiasm on the part of the university to include
them in curriculum development and other decisions related to the program at
that stage.
Reviewing the course list the program offers, one observes an interest in
covering the various areas of interest in this field, which deprives the student
the chance to focus on a specific area of his or her own interest. Course re-
quirements do not entail direct contact with the field outside the university,
despite the fact that a good number of women's organizations exist and that
many of these provide services to women, legally, psychologically, or eco-
The Warnen 's Studies Prograrn at the University 0/ Jordan 145

Prospects for the Future

Recognizing the fact that the program is still in an early stage of develop-
ment, a number of suggestions or guidelines could be advanced. First and
foremost, efforts should be directed to create links between the pro gram and
the rest of the academic departments at the university, on the one hand, and
with the community and its various women's organizations, on the other. At
the internal university level, the program needs to pay attention and exert
effort for the purpose of "curriculum transformation," which requires the
inc1usion of material by and about women in tradition al courses. This calls
for extending the content of the new scholarship on women beyond women' s
studies courses to the entire curriculum, especially in the domains of social
and educational sciences as weIl as the arts and humanities in general. Meet-
ing this objective entails working closely with faculty in these fields. At a
more basic level, efforts should be exerted to offer courses in women's stud-
ies as university elective courses-particularly in the colleges of the humani-
ties, which comprise the largest number of female students.
Women's studies has been described as a tool for both individual and so-
cial change. In order to contribute to the change process, a women's studies
pro gram needs to provide its students with the necessary skills required in the
various domains. A tradition al society in transition, such as Jordan, is faced
with economic and social problems that women, in all probability, encounter
to a larger extent. In addition to the task of raising awareness of gender re-
lated problems, students of women's studies need to be able to provide psy-
chological counselling, legal advocacy, educational counselling, family
services, and marriage counselling in the context of women's problems. The
current curriculum does not include any course that deals with the knowledge
or skill base relevant to these issues. An application perspective can serve the
great need for linking the program with the community and securing better
chances for employment in the future for its students.
The strategy adopted by the National Committee for Women in Jordan
inc1udes highly optimistic and daring goals. It aims at promoting, monitoring,
and evaluating progress in the status of women in the various sectors. It pro-
poses specific strategies to review the present situation and to deal with gen-
der inequalities in the various domains. The implementation of this strategy
requires qualified personnel with a solid background in women's studies.
In the social, political, economic, and educational arenas, women in Jor-
dan are subjected to exclusion, marginalization, and subordination. The mani-
festations are immense: a high rate of unemployment, a low rate of political
participation, and limited representation in leadership and decision making
positions. In spite of the fact that females outperform males at every level of
scholastic achievement, the young generation of females, particularly univer-
sity graduates, do not exhibit the expected career orientation. If we consider
146 Yasmin Haddad

women's studies as a tool for change, a great deal of responsibility lies ahead
for further development in these areas. In particular, a database that registers
these phenomena related to women's lives needs to be established, and re-
search needs to be geared to delineate the relationships among these phenom-
ena and to uncover the causal factors underlying them. An academic program
in women's studies can provide valuable knowledge at the theoretical level
and valuable guidelines for policy makers in all these respects. Consequently,
the research process needs to be channelled toward these goals.
In its capacity as the leading program of women' s studies in Jordan, there
is a long road that lies ahead for the program at the University of Jordan. The
recognition of its basic mission requires an evaluation of its present status to
carry the responsibilities of change for the present and future generations of
females into its surrounding community.


Coulter, S.: Curriculum Transformation: The Impact of Women's Studies on the

Academic Disciplines. In: F1eßner, Heike, et al. (Eds.): Women's Studies im in-
ternationalen Vergleich. PfaffenweiIer: Centaurus, 1994, pp. 79-84
Henderson-King, D., and A. J. Stewart: Educational Experiences and Shifts in Group
Consciousness: Studying Women. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
25.3 (1999), pp. 390-399
Howe, K. G.: The Psychological Impact of a Women's Studies Course. In: Women's
Studies Quarterly 13.1 (1985), pp. 23-24
Jones, G. P., and C. N. Jacklin: Changes in Sexist Attitudes Toward Women During
Introductory Women's and Men's Studies Courses. In: Sex Roles 18.9-10 (1988),
pp. 611-622
Kurth, R.: Women's Studies and Feminist Pedagogy-Teaching Methods and Course
Content. In: F1eßner, Heike, et al. (Eds.): Women's Studies im internationalen
Vergleich. Pfaffen weiler: Centaurus, 1994, pp.71-78
Ruble, D., J. Croke, I. Frieze, and 1. Parsons: A Field Study of Sex-Role Attitude
Change in College Women. In: Journal of Applied Social Psychology 5.2 (1975),
pp. 110-117
Scott, R., A. Richards, and M. Wade: Women's Studies as Change Agents. In: Psy-
chology ofWomen Quarterly 104 (1977), pp. 377-379
Stake, 1. E., L. Roades, S. Rose, Ellis, and C. West: The Women's Studies Experi-
ence: Impetus for Feminist Activism. In: Psychology of Women Quarterly 18.1
(1994), pp. 17-24
Stake, 1. E., and S. Rose: The Long-Term Impact of Women's Studies on Students'
Personal Lives and Political Activism. In: Psychology of Women Quarterly 18.3
(1994), pp. 403-412
UNICEF: The Situation of Jordanian Children and Women: A Rights-Based Analysis.
Amman, Jordan 1997
Gamze Ege

Turkish Women's Studies: The METU Gender and

Women's Studies Graduate Program Experience

The Development ofWomen's Studies and the Women's

Movement in Turkey in the 1980s

Although the issue of women' s status in Turkey has been on the Turkish
political agenda since the establishment of the Turkish Republic and on the
academic agenda since the 1940s, the 1980s holds a particular place within
today's Turkish feminist consciousness. It was specifically during this period
that issues concerning women came to be discussed and analyzedjor women
by wornen.
In the early 1920s and 1930s, concern for women' s status in Turkey was
situated in the context of the newly formulated republican ideology, which
sought to build a secular, modern Turkish society in contrast to the Islamic
Ottoman Empire. Extensive reforms concerning political, social, and eco-
nomic dimensions were carried out in the quest to establish the republic, of
wh ich those concerning women were the most radical for that era. For in-
stance, women were encouraged to take up educational and occupational
endeavours equal to that of men and were gran ted the right to vote and to run
for political office much earlier (1934) than many of their European sisters. It
must be noted, though, that the reforms conceming the amelioration of
women's status during this period in Turkish history were not made as a
result of specific demands of an independent women's movement but were
rather instated under the umbrella of a grand modemization project (Arat
1993; Özbay 1990; Sirman 1989). For a time, interest in women's status and
issues remained highly ideological, and studies carried out later conceming
the effects of the reforms on women were mainly limited to the issue of the
legal emancipation ofwomen (Arat 1993: 121).
It was particularly during the 1940s and 1950s that women were taken
into consideration in empirical studies carried out in the field of sociology
(Arat 1993; Özbay, 1990: 3), though even then they were only an appendage
to research dealing with the aspects of village life. These studies were the
first to draw a picture of the roles taken up by women under more "personal"
conditions, that is, within the general framework of family life in rural areas.
Such research was followed up in the 1970s with a wider array of studies
conducted by academics from other disciplines, such as social psychology,
anthropology, and political science, in the form of "women and ... " (women
148 GamzeEge

and migration, women and education, women and employment, etc.) cases
(Acar 1997: 200). These studies provided pioneering data concerning the
specific situation of Turkish women and benefited from the credibility of
weIl established and highly respected women social scientists (Acar 1997:
200; Arat 1993: 125).
The developments of the 1980s, however, marked a turning point for
studies dealing with women' s issues, and there are several interrelated factors
contributing to this change. First of aIl, developments on the international
platform of women' s issues had a significant impact on the state level as weIl
as the academic and popular levels in Turkey. The UN Decade for Women,
as weIl as the four world conferences held during this period, played an im-
portant role in bringing women's issues to the forefront of the international
political agenda. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Dis-
crimination against Women, a crystaIIization of the international women's
movement, wh ich Turkey signed in 1985, was an important force in bringing
the Turkish women's movement significant national attention. A nationwide
petition demanding the government to implement the convention was carried
out during the mid-1980s, which aIlowed the women's movement to gain
popular recognition as weIl as an important level of political c10ut (Ac ar
2000). The (international) feminist motto of "personal is political" was also
adapted to the Turkish context with increased attention toward such issues as
domestic violence, sexuaIity, bride price, and the economic conditions of
women (Kardam and Ertürk 1999: 175). Along these Iines, the women's
movement of the 1980s also organized various activities, such as festivities
and marches, and published demands for amendments to the Turkish Civil
and Penal Codes.
Secondly, parallel to developments in other countries, Turkey experi-
enced the establishment of several women's NGOs during the 1980s that
specialized in dealing with the issue areas mentioned above. The political
atmosphere in which these NGOs emerged was unique and has added an
interesting dimension to the Turkish women's movement. The 1980 military
coup had brought with it an immediate process of depolitization in which aII
political parties and organizations were originally shut down and then even-
tually permitted to function on a selective basis. lronicaIly, this process actu-
ally provided the women's movement in Turkey with an open arena to or-
ganize and bring their issues into the Iimelight. As Arat states, the main rea-
son for the relative freedom that the women's movement experienced during
this period was mainly due to the fact that it was perceived by the male po-
litical elite as a continuation of the concern for women's issues initiated
through the Kemalist reforms of the 1920s and that women as a group would
pose much less of a political "threat" than men (Arat 1994). The women's
NGOs founded during this period had also played a critical role in creating a
dialogue with governments thereby increasing the state's sensitivity toward
gender and women's issues as weH as opportunities for coIIaboration (Kar-
Turkish Warnen' s Studies 149

dam and Ertürk 1999: 168). This dialogue was later embodied in the estab-
lishment of the "Directorate General on the Status and Problems of Women
in 1991," a public authority which has played an important role in the estab-
lishment of women' s studies centers and pro grams in the 1990s.
The third important factor contributing to the development of an inde-
pendent women's movement during the 1980s was the return of the second
generation of women social scientists who had absorbed first hand the devel-
opment of gender and women's studies in Western countries in their studies
abroad (Acar 1983). These women, alongside those who had enriched them-
selves through feminist activism in Turkey, introduced to the Turkish acade-
mia the use of the concepts of "gen der" and "patriarchy" in their studies on
women's issues and brought with them a feminist critical approach toward
analyzing the status of women in Turkish society. Just as their women prede-
cessors, the respectability that these women had already gained within their
traditional disciplines of psychology, sociology, economics, political science
and law, later helped legitimize the establishment of women' s studies centers
and programs (Acar 1997: 200).
In the first half of the 1990s, several women' s studies centers and, later,
programs were founded in major Turkish universities in response to the ne-
cessity for providing institutions that would produce knowledge and infor-
mation concerning women's issues. The first women's studies center was
established in Istanbul University (1993), and in the following year, Ankara
University followed suit. These centers mainly specialize in research-based
activities and focus on such areas as adult education, public sensitivity devel-
opment, and awareness raising (Acar 1997: 199). In addition to these re-
search centers, the 1990s also brought about the initiation of gender and
women's studies degree programs, among which is the pro gram founded at
the Middle East Technical University.

Gender and Women's Studies at METU

The Gender and Women's Studies Graduate Program at the Middle East
Technical University was established in 1994 with the support of the UNDP
and the Directorate General on the Status and Problems of Women and holds
unique features in relation to other gen der and women's studies programs.
Although the Middle East Technical University (METU) mainly spe-
cializes in the natural and applied sciences, it has also been horne to several
very prominent social science departments, such as sociology, political sci-
ence, economics, and psychology, and has had many senior social science
scholars. Being in such an institution, the Gender and Women's Studies Pro-
gram has had a significant caliber and a strong basis of legitimacy.
150 GamzeEge
In METU, the courses of the Gender and Women's Studies Graduate
Program, as weil as all other academic work, uses English as its medium of
instruction. This fact has given the program significant advantage in forming
connections with the international arena both in its coursework and its activi-
ties. Consequently, the students of the Gender and Women's Studies Program
at METU are able to form links between developments in gender and
women's studies worldwide and the developments at the national level.
The Gender and Women's Studies Program has two main functions
within the Turkish context: it is both an institution of higher education and an
organization that provides raising gender awareness programs for other uni-
versities, NGOs, and the general public in Turkey. Thus, although it has not
been formally established as a "center," the pro gram also functions as one.
Among the program's general objectives are promoting research and scholar-
ship on gender and women, helping establish gender and women's studies
teaching and research as part of mainstream academia in Turkey, increasing
the number of professionals and experts in different areas who are sensitive
to and knowledgeable about gender studies and women's issues in Turkey,
training civil servants for institutions and departments dealing with gender
issues and problems, and contributing to the creation of public awareness and
sensitivity to gender and women's issues and problems in the community.
Several international connections with other gen der and women's studies
programs have thus been formed since 1994, some of wh ich have been in the
context of being regional liaisons. One of the major activities that the pro-
gram has coordinated within this context was the international conference
"Women's Identities and Roles in the Course of Change: Central Asia, East
and Central Europe, and Turkey" held between 23-25 January 1996. Scholars
from fourteen different countries participated in the conference, allowing a
large audience to benefit from the research findings concerning women' s
issues carried out within different countries in the said regions (Acar and
Güne~-Ayata 2000). In addition, the Gender and Women's Studies Program
at METU successfully carried out two other projects that aimed to establish
international ties between gender and women's studies institutions in the
region. The first of these was "Opportunities for Gender and Women's Stud-
ies Research in Azerbaycan" in coordination with the London University
School of Oriental and African Studies, the METU Center for Black Sea and
Central Asia Research Center, and the Baku State University during Septem-
ber 1997 - Decernber 1998. The second, "Developing Intercultural Research
and Educational Programs in the Field ofWomen's Studies: England, Turkey
and Central Asia" was in cooperation with the London University School of
Oriental and African Studies. This project has allowed for scholar exchanges
between the METU and the University of Baku and training in wornen's
studies to fern ale acadernics in Baku University by the faculty of METU's
Gender and Women's Studies Program. Study visits of Azeri wornen's stud-
ies scholars and experts to both Turkey and England has been coordinated,
Turkish Women's Studies 151

and course curriculum in women's studies in the Caucasus, Central Asia as

weil as the Middle East for the Gender and Women's Studies Program has
been developed.
The Gender and Women's Studies Graduate Program in METU offers its
students a choice between thesis and non-thesis alternatives in obtaining their
degrees. In the thesis option, students are required to take seven credit
courses and complete a master' s thesis. In the non-thesis option, students
must take ten credit courses and prepare a term project. Both options are
awarded with a Master of Science Degree. To date, the pro gram has awarded
a total of forty degrees in this field. Students that complete a master's thesis
contribute to the creation of new knowledge in the field of gender and
women's studies in Turkey. Otherwise, those that choose to write a term
project apply the knowledge that they have acquired through the program in
their own fields thereby contributing to the process of gender mainstreaming.
Thus, the program functions both as a research and training oriented aca-
demic enterprise.
The underlying characteristic of the program, wh ich encompasses its cur-
ricula, faculty, and student body, is that it is interdisciplinary in nature, much
like its counterparts in other countries. The fact that women's issues are
multi-faceted and approaches from different disciplines are necessary to fully
grasp the situation of women in society has been the driving force in the
creation of such an interdisciplinary program. The program's faculty and
students come from various academic backgrounds that contribute to the
richness of perspectives on women' s issues. The faculty members come from
a variety of social science backgrounds, such as sociology, political science,
psychology, economics, history, and management. Most are senior scholars
of national and international recognition who are responsible for landmark
research on gender and women's issues in Turkey.
The student body, which has been accepted into the program since it
opened its doors in 1994, presents an even wider range of disciplines, such as
medicine, engineering, physics and mathematics, as weil as social sciences
and philosophy. The courses offered by the program also reflect the pro-
gram's interdisciplinary structure. Not only are there courses developed spe-
cifically for the purpose of this program (such as Introduction to Women's
Studies, Women and Civil Legislation, and Women and Development), but
courses from various other departments are made available to students of the
Although the interdisciplinary nature of the program has given it a
unique advantage in conducting graduate studies in Turkey, it also constitutes
a major set-back area in relation to the problems faced by the students of the
program, particularly by those of non-social science backgrounds, an issue to
which I williater return. The role that the program has played on the national
level in the promotion of gender and women's studies in Turkey also merits
152 GamzeEge
Much as it is a prominent graduate studies program, the Gender and
Women's Studies Program at METU is also an organization that coordinates
various gender awareness activities and programs for the general public, for
NGOs, and women's studies centers in other provincial universities. The
Video Archive Project, initiated by the program in May 1997, was specifi-
cally developed to allow the METU Gender and Women's Studies Program
to strengthen its ties outside the university and to provide a women's studies
training program for voluntary women' s organizations. This project sought to
compile an archive of documentary and educational films dealing with
women and was supplemented with aseries of workshops facilitated by the
program's faculty members with the goals of establishing gender awareness
and sensitivity in specific problem areas such as gen der discrimination in the
workplace, politics and education, the affects of religion on the lives of
women living in Muslim countries, violence against women, and the psy-
chology of women.
METU's Gender and Women's Studies Program has also provided ex-
tensive gender awareness training programs for the Turkish police force
through its "Gen der Awareness Training Program for Police and Police Ca-
dets" project, which was carried out from 1997 - 1999. These training pro-
grams were carried out through aseries of seminars held with members of the
police forces of three provinces (Ankara, Trabzon and Diyarbaklr) and senior
c1ass members of the Police Academy in Ankara. While this project was
initiated primarily to train the police force for the implementation of the
Family Protection Law (No. 4320), which is in reality a domestic violence
law, it also aimed to sensitize the police towards issues such as gender,
equality, women's human rights, women's status in society and the family,
and women's experience with urban life. A total of 203 police officers who
completed the seminars were awarded certificates by the METU Gender and
Women's Studies Program.
The Gender and Women's Studies Program at METU has also sought to
develop and enlarge the field of women' s studies at the national level through
establishing contacts with women's studies centers in provincial universities.
Under the project "Institution al Development and Capacity Building for
Gender and Women's Studies in Higher Education," facuIty members and
assistants visited women's studies centers at Mersin University (Southern
Turkey) and Yüzüncü YI1 University in Van (Eastern Turkey). Several confe-
rences and seminars were held with the goal of raising local awareness on
women and gender issues in these cities as well as to establish inter-institu-
tional communication links, to discuss and find solutions to problem areas
faced by all involved establishments, to share experiences, and to pinpoint
possible joint-research ventures.
In addition to such projects, the Gender and Women's Studies Program
at METU has hosted a total of twenty-seven national and international con-
ferences and panels by inviting experts on gender and women's issues to the
Turkish Warnen' s Studies 153

university. Aseries of short-term projects that included the active participa-

tion of the program ' s graduate students were also carried out in the capital
city of Ankara and its surroundings with the aim of collecting data in such
areas as women's role in family life, women's entrepreneurial endeavours,
agro-tourism, time use differences between spouses in households, women's
solidarity patterns in patrilineal societies and gecekondu communities, and
women's identities. A research study on the educational sector was also suc-
cessfully completed by three faculty members of the program who studied
teacher attitudes in occupational choice, perceptions of gen der discrimina-
tion, and the visible/invisible practices and sources of gender discrimination
among teachers and school administrators in different types· of secondary
level schools. The findings of this study were published in 1999 in Turkish
(Acar, Ayata and Varoglu 1999).
Some of the projects carried out by the Gender and Women's Studies
Program at METU have been supported by the Directorate General on the
Status of Women through the funds provided by the UNDP. Also
international organizations, such as UNESCO, the British Council and the
W orId Bank, have ac ted as sponsors of some of the program ' s projects. This
fact reflects the ti es that the program has both with state institutions and
mechanisms and international bodies providing funding for research in
gender and women' s issues. The projects taken up by the Gender and
Women's Program c1earIy reflect the role that it plays in constituting a bridge
between gender and women's studies in Turkey and in the international
The program has played a critical role in bringing feminist perspectives
into Turkish academic studies on women's issues, and it has also greatly
contributed to the pool of empirical studies on gender and women's issues.
But what exactIy does it me an to be a women's studies student in Turkey?
Whatare the pros and cons? What does the picture look like from the inside?

From the Inside Looking Out: Perspectives on Women's

Studies from the Vantage Point of Students

As noted previously, the student profile of the Gender and Women's Studies
Program at METU is composed of graduates from a variety of undergraduate
disciplines. Combined with the diverse backgrounds ofthe program's faculty,
the courses offered by the program and related departments provide a lively
atmosphere in which differing views on women's issues can be shared. The
interdisciplinary nature of the courses also gives students the opportunity to
explore how feminist debates and discussions have developed from within
different mainstream academic disciplines.
154 GamzeEge
As would be expected, lectures and in-class discussions are carried out in
a relatively flexible environment in wh ich students are able to voice their
concerns about the issues. Most of the students who have enrolled in the
program seek answers to their personal questions concerning what it means
to be a woman and/or how they might go about putting to practical use the
teachings of feminist discourse both in their everyday life and academic
Not only does the student composition show variation according to aca-
demic backgrounds, but it also reflects differences in relation to age, social
status, and class backgrounds, consequently creating differences both in rea-
sons for applying to the program and in expectations from the program eÖz-
kan and Ko'.( 1998: 7). However, despite these differences, all of the students
share the same common interest in studying gen der and women' s issues.
While the interdisciplinary structure of the program provides fruitful discus-
sions during course hours, it can also be a source of difficulty in some re-
spects. For instance, not all students can grasp the essen ce of the class discus-
sions as easily as others can; those who do not come from social science
backgrounds have greater difficulties, particularly at the onset.
As the in-depth interviews that Özkan and Ko'.( (1998) conducted with
twelve students and graduates of the program point out, the students of the
Gender and Women Studies Program are split into two distinct groups: those
who come from social science backgrounds and those who come from non-
social science backgrounds, such as engineering and the natural sciences. The
findings of Özkan and Ko'.('s study indicate that students from the social
science disciplines have the comparative advantage of having already been
introduced to the concept of gen der and women's issues. Such students find it
easier to decide on how to situate themselves within feminist discourse and
how to critically ex amine the disciplines within which they received their
undergraduate educations from feminist standpoints. They also experience
lower levels of difficulty in comparing and integrating the discourses, con-
cepts, and methodologies of other social science disciplines.
On the other hand, students that come from non-social science back-
grounds find it much harder to deal with a completely new set of concepts
and discourses with which they most likely did not have any previous inter-
action. Although students from such backgrounds claim that they were no
longer content with the processes of knowledge production provided in their
original disciplines and were willingly searching for a "way out" of these
teachings, they, nonetheless, voice difficulties in adapting to their new envi-
The courses offered by the Gender and Women's Studies Program are
more sociology-oriented. For students who have never come into interaction
with the use of sociological concepts and discourses, let alone concepts from
other social science disciplines in an academic context, dealing with such
maUers becomes an obstac1e in understanding exactly what feminist criti-
Turkish Warnen' s Studies 155

cisms are actually about. This is also partly due to the fact that the reasons for
the desire expressed by these students to move out of the natural and applied
sciences into the social sciences could not have been foreseen by the aca-
demics in the Women's Studies Program. Consequently, the designers of the
program were not able to take precautionary steps to ease these students'
transition into the social sciences.
Ozkan and KoC; suggest that feminist approaches and methodologies
could actually provide a good steppingstone for students that are not of social
science origins, but that such feminist approaches and methodologies have
not yet been developed enough in Turkey to respond to such concrete needs
(Özkan and KoC; 1998: 10). It must be recognized, however, that the ap-
proaches and methodologies currently used in Turkish women's studies have
generally been adopted from the West since most of the senior scholars in
this field had received their higher education in Western countries. Thus,
feminist approach es and methodologies specific to the Turkish context are
yet to be developed.
Other problem areas faced by students of METU's Gender and Women's
Studies are related to practical and communicative difficulties. For one, many
of the students find applying in their workplaces the knowledge that they
have acquired in their c1asses quite challenging. The desire to begin a trans-
formative process within their immediate surroundings is great for students of
the program, but most of the time the ways in which such changes may be
initiated are usually difficuIt to pinpoint.
Communication problems are related to the fact that, in spite of lively
discussions and interaction in cJass, not much is shared between students
outside of c1ass. This situation may be in part due to the reality that a major-
ity of the students in METU's Gender and Women's Studies are not full-time
students. Most of them have jobs, and, therefore, they spend a great amount
of time and energy at work. Another dimension of the communication prob-
lem is the inadequacies of the ties of the program to women's NGOs in Tur-
key on either formal or informal bases. Despite the various community ori-
ented projects carried out by the program (as discussed earlier), the students
are not directly involved, since most of the program's interaction goes on
between facuIty members who act as trainers and NGO members and other
members of the general public who are there as recipients of the training.
Consequently, students feel frustration in terms of the program providing
them with avenues to take up political activism on behalf of women's issues
and women's rights.
Students seeking to establish a future for themselves by putting to use the
experience and knowledge they have obtained through women's studies,
particularly those who wish to be academics in the conventional disciplines,
have stated that they are sometimes confronted with the understanding that
women's studies is a "light" discipline and is, therefore, not taken seriously.
However, there is also evidence in the contrary direction. In recent years,
156 GamzeEge
many graduates of the Gender and W omen' s Studies Program of METU who
have applied to Ph.D. programs in METU, other Turkish universities, and
abroad (particularly in the U.S.) have been accepted. For instance, several
graduates are currently enrolled as Ph.D. candidates in political science, soci-
ology, and anthropology in different universities in Turkey, the U.S.A., and
Despite the problems and difficuIties faced by the students of the Gender
and Women's Studies Pro gram at METU, aII students have expressed posi-
tive sentiments abo.ut studying in the program. Different from other graduate
and undergraduate programs, the students of this program benefit from eIose
relations with both fellow students and their instructors in the eIassroom.
Throughout all of the program's courses, a friendly atmosphere pervades the
eIassroom, and students find an environment open to bringing their personal
experiences and problems into discussions and sharing in the past experi-
ences of their teachers. While this is partly owing to the high self-diselosure
tendency also observed in women's studies eIassrooms in the West, it is fa-
cilitated as weIl by the notion predominant in Turkish women's cuIture that a
"problem shared is a problem solved."


The METU Gender and W omen' s Studies Graduate Program has played an
important role in introducing feminist studies into Turkish mainstream aca-
demia as weIl as producing fundamental works on Turkish women's issues.
Though the difficuIties that the students of the program have faced are
not unique to METU's program alone, specific strategies might be adopted
by both its students and academicians to compensate for the problem areas
discussed above.
One possible solution would be the establishment of an informal
women's studies eIub that would be independent of mainstream disciplines
and would provide students with opportunities to establish personal contacts
with students of other women's studies programs and members of women's
non-govemmental organizations in Turkey as weIl as provide links with
women's NGOs in other countries.
Another possible solution to problems currently facing the program in
general would be the concrete formation of a women's studies center within
the structure of the graduate program. AIthough the pro gram does function as
a center to a certain extent, the formal establishment of a center would aIIow
the program to take up more extensive projects in relation to women's issues
thereby creating even eIoser ties with women's NGOs and providing students
Turkish Women's Studies 157

with practical arenas in which they would be able to put to use the experience
and knowledge they have obtained through their graduate studies.
This last solution holds very significant implications for "next genera-
tion" feminists and women's studies students as weIl as for the women's
movement both in Turkey and abroad. The creation of a women's studies
center would not only provide students with "hands on" experiences related
to women's issues, but it would also serve the purpose of bridging the gap
and/or breaking the hierarchy between institutionalized academic feminism
and the women's movement itself. Such an endeavor would indeed ease the
frequently voiced feeling of "being left out" (of the movement) by young
women studying in women's studies programs and would also give an added
strength to activist women and vice versa. The opportunity to work in elose
terms with experienced feminist academicians/activists on women's issues-
oriented projects outside the elassroom would also contribute to weakening
the "student-teacher" hierarchy and give students legitimate platforms
through which they could express novel ideas and interests.


Acar, F., A. Güne~-Ayata, and D. Varoglu: Gender Discrimination and Attitudes

Towards Women. The Education Sector in Turkey. Ankara: Directorate General
on the Status and Problems of Wornen, 1999
Acar, F., and A. Güne~-Ayata (Eds.): Gender and Identity Construction: Wornen of
Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey. Leiden: E. J. BrilI, 2000
Acar, F.: Turkey. In: Krops, C. (Ed.): European Wornen's Studies Guide 11. Utrecht:
WISE, 1997, pp. 199-202
Acar, F.: Turkish Wornen in Acadernia. Roles and Careers. In: METU Studies in
Developrnent 10.4 (1983), pp. 409-446
Arat, Y.: Toward a Dernocratic Society: The Wornen's Movernent in Turkey in the
1980s. In: Wornen's International Forum 17.2/3 (1994), pp. 241-248
Arat, Y: Women's Studies in Turkey. From Kemalism to Feminisrn. In: New Per-
spectives on Turkey (1993), pp.119-135
Kardam, N., and Y. Ertürk: Expanding Gender Accountability? Women's Organiza-
tions and the State in Turkey. In: International Journal of Organizational Theory
and Behavior 2 (1999), pp. 167-197
McPhedran, M.: The First CEDAW Impact Study. Final Report. Toronto: Centre for
Ferninist Research, York University and the International Women's Rights Proj-
Özbay, F.: The Development of Studies on Women in Turkey. In: Özbay, F. (Ed.):
Women, Family and Social Change in Turkey. Bankok: UNESCO, 1990, pp. 1-
Özkan, E., and S. Ko~: Akademide Kadm <;ah~rnalarl Deneyimi, Sorunlan ve
Disiplinlerarasl Yapisl Üzerine Tartl~ma. In: Kadm Sorunlannm <;özümüne Do-
158 GamzeEge
gru Yöntem, Strateji ve Politikalar. izmir: Ege Üniversitesi Kadm Sorunlan
Ara~tlrma ve Uygulama Merkezi ve Ege Kadm Ara~tlrmalan, 1998, pp. 6-12
Sirman, N.: Feminism in Turkey. A Short History. In: New Perspectives on Turkey
3.1 (1989), pp. 1-34
Tekeli, ~.: The Rise and Change ofthe New Women's Movement. Emergence ofthe
Feminist Movement in Turkey. In: Dahlerup, D. (Ed.): The New Women's
Movement. London: Sage Publications, 1986, pp. 179-199 - General Directorate of Women's Status and Problems; Ankara,
Turkey - Ucan Supurge ["The Flying Broom"] - a women's NGO in
Ankara, Turkey - Ankara Unversity's Women's Problems Research
Savita Singal

Gender Issues in Haryana and at ces Haryana

Agricultural University, India

Constitutional Guarantees

Policy documents concerning Indian women have been guided by the con-
stitutional provisions. Some of these directive principles are "women-spe-
cific," while others concern women indirectly or by necessary implication.
The constitution of India guarantees the following:

Equality before law for women (Article 14)

No discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth
(Artic1e 15 I)
The state to make special provision in favour of women and children
(Artic1e 15-3)
Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment
or appointment to any office under the state (Article 16)
The state to direct policy towards securing for men and women equally
the right to adequate means of livelihood and equal pay for equal work
for both men and women (Article 39 d)
The state to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of
work and for maternity relief (Article 42)

1. Gender Issues in Haryana

Haryana is a relatively small state in north India that borders the states of
Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. It has sixteen dis-
tricts and a total population of 16.46 million. 75% of its population live in
rural areas.

Women's Status Scenario in Haryana

Haryana has made rapid strides on economic fronts and presently has the
second highest per capita income in the country. Significant expansions in
160 Savita Singal

health and education infrastructure during the last decade have resulted in
improvement in the health status of the population. There has been a decline
in overall mortality and an increase in life expectancy.
However,the status of women in Haryana is still a cause of concern.
There is a marked sex difference in mortality, with more deaths among girls
in infancy, childhood, and adolescent years. While the infant mortality rate
for boys is 80 per 1000, for the girl infant it is as high as 102 per 1000
(1991). The male fern ale sex ratio is 1000: 865 (1991), which is the second
lowest in the country. It has shown a declining trend over the last decade.
Female literacy rate is only 40.94% and the present maternal mortality rate is
about 104 per 1000 live births. At least one in five ever-married women ex-
perience domestic violence, mostly beating, by their husbands. Crime against
women in the form of rape and dowry deaths has constantly shown a rising

Issues and Critical Areas of Concern

Denial of Birth, Life, and Right to Survival

Female foeticide, though prevalent in many parts of the country, remains
largely invisible. Sex pre-selection is quite popular in several states, like
Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Punjab. A girl child runs
the risk of female infanticide by deliberate killing or neglect at the time of
birth and during the vulnerable period of infancy. About twelve million girls
are born every year, and 25% do not see their fifteenth birthday. About one-
third of deaths are in the first year of life. The fern ale infant mortality rate
(IMR) has come down from 81 in 1990 to 73.5 in 1998, but it is still higher
than the male IMR (69.8) at the national level. In Haryana, this rate is as low
as 60.7. Girls are exposed to greater risk of death between their third and fifth
year of life, and the risk of dying is 43% higher for girls.

Missing Girls
The sex ratio is unfavourable to women at all levels and keeps on declining
throughout childhood. At each age level, there is a large number of missing
girls as compared to boys. The sex ratio is most unfavourable in the states of
Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Hary-

Physical Wastage of Girls

Early marriage and early pregnancies are resulting in physical wastage, birth
complications, and low-birth weight babies having poor a survival rate. Age
at marriage for rural girls is very low due to value systems, beliefs, and social
Gender Issues in Haryana and at ces Haryana Agricultural University 161

problems. During 1992-93,39% of girls between 15-19 years were married,

and in the age group of 20-24 years more than 50% of women were married
before 18 years of age.

Discriminatory Feeding Practices

Girls "nutrition al intake" is inferior in quality and quantity. Boys have access
to higher value foods and are given the first priority for the available food
within the family. Girl infants are breast-fed less frequently, for shorter dura-
tion, and over shorter periods than boys. Studies indicate that girls do not
receive timely and adequate health care, are treated generally by a traditional
healer, fe wer resources are invested on girls health, and expenditure on
treatment of girls is less than half of that on boys.

Girl Children and Women in Difficult Circumstances

Much of the young girl's/women's work is invisible and remains unrecog-
nized and undervalued. In rural areas, the majority of girls/women are un-
skilled and low paid workers. Nearly 50% of female child workers in urban
areas are engaged in household industry. Girls in the age group of 12-16
years have been found to be more susceptible to crimes. The proportion of
girls apprehended as juveniles reached 26.3% in 1996, the highest in the last
six years. During 1996, incidence of child rape increased by 0.4 %, incidence
of buying girls for prostitution increased by 22%. Commercial child prostitu-
tion is increasing at the rate of 8-10% per annum (1997).

Rural Women's Work Pattern

The relatively static social condition of women is in sharp contrast to their

constantly busy movements throughout the day. They are in fields cultivating
grain for survival, rearing cattle to supplement family income, coIlecting
cow-dung to save upon fuel as weIl as attending to household chores and
child care activities.

Social Va lues

Their daughters help them with aIl these tasks, and yet they yearn for a son.
This is mainly because, like in other parts of the country, a daughter in Hary-
ana is perceived to be paraya dhan (wealth of another). From the day a
daughter is born, the family raises her to be married or "given" to another
family. She is, therefore, considered as a burden to the family, not a con-
tributor - both economicaIly and sociaIly. The onset of puberty increases the
responsibility and the anxiety, leading to early marriage. The mother who has
162 Savita Singal

given birth to a girl, instead of being congratulated, is looked at with con-

tempt and is often denied proper nutrition and rest. The newly born daughter
also faces several health risks. Inadequate nutrition and medical neglect often
have a direct bearing on her survival. The efforts to collect her dowry (social
practice of giving cash and goods to the bridegroom's family at the time of
marriage of the daughter) begin at birth.

2. Programs and Policies for Women's Development

Changes at the national level have been paralleled by evolving state govern-
ment policies and plans for women's development. Salient features and
achievements of important schemes being implemented by various depart-
ments are discussed below:

DirectorateJor Wornen and Child Development, Haryana

Integrated Women's Empowerment and Development Project, Haryana

This project aims at bringing about a change in the present scenario by gen-
erating awareness, mobilizing women into groups, creating leaders hip and
simultaneously sensitizing men so as to carry them along, with a view to lend
their support to women's activities. The project also envisages direct inter-
ventions in the health, education, and economic sectors so as to ensure
women's survival, dignity, and enhanced status in society. This will ulti-
mately lead to lower fertility and a balance between population and resources
to sustain the population.

Integrated Child Development Scheme

It was launched in Haryana in 1975 with the objective to improve the nutri-
tional and health status of children (0 - 6 years), and pregnant and lactating
mothers. It provides a package of supplementing nutrition, immunization,
health check up, referral services, health and nutrition education, and conver-
gence of other supportive services like water supply, sanitation, etc. to chil-
dren below six years of age, and pregnant and nursing women in the age
group of fifteen to forty-four years of age, in an integrated manner.
ICDS is the people's own program. Mother's CommiUees have been set
up in villages to mobilize maximum participation. Every Saturday has been
designated as "Mother's Day" in order to involve the mothers of the commu-
nity in the activities of the ICDS. They are also given messages regarding
health and nutrition education. This program caters to the needs of 833 000
Gender Issues in Haryana and at ces Haryana Agricultural University 163

children and 198 000 mothers. Very soon Haryana state will be the first and
only state in the country where all rural areas of development will be covered
by the ICDS scheme.

Adolescent Girls Scheme

The scheme has been initiated in some areas of development since 1993-94 in
order to improve the health and nutritional status of the girls between eleven
to eighteen years of age, equip the girls to develop skills for earning an in-
come through government sponsored and other programs, and promote
awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition, family welfare, horne-management,
childcare, and marriage at adulthood.

The Apni Beti Apna Dhan Scheme (Our Daughters Our WeaIth)
The overall goal of this innovative scheme is to initiate change in the atti-
tudes of families and communities towards girl children and foster a sense of
pride among their mothers. The scheme follows a two prong strategy, i.e. to
recognize and honor mothers of girl children with a token monetary award at
the birth of a girl-child and to provide a long-term monetary investment for
each girl child, which she can claim when she turns eighteen years provided
she is unmarried. The program is optimistic in the sense that these strategies
will fulfi1 the following objectives: one, reduce the demographic imbalance
between the sexes; two, delay the age of marriage of girls to at least eighteen
years; and three, reduce the birth rate and improve the reproductive health of
Implementation of the Scheme: On the birth of the girl child, the state
government provides a total financial package of Rs. 3000 (US$ 65 approxi-
mately). The money is disbursed in the following way. One, the mother of the
girl child is given Rs. 500 (US$ 11) in cash within fifteen days of the birth cf
the girl child as a small token of honor from the government. While the use
of money is left to the discretion of the family, the government advocates that
it be applied towards the nutrition, medical care and recovery of the mother.
Two, a sum of Rs. 2500 (US$ 54) is invested for the girl child's small sav-
ings scheme. This investment is made within three months of the birth of the
girl child. Its maturity value after eighteen years would be Rs. 25 000 (US$
580) and will be given to the girl provided she is not married.
The government later designed a special package for girls who further
delay their marriage. It was feIt that though eighteen years is an official age,
the ideal age would be twenty to twenty-two years. Therefore, an incentive
scheme was introduced which increased the maturity value of the investment
from Rs. 25 000 to 30 000 or to 35 000 if the girl remained unmarried until
twenty or twenty-two years of age respectively. AIthough it is envisioned that
164 Savita Singal

beneficiary daughters would use the maturity amount for economic ventures,
the ultimate use is left to the girl.

Haryana State Commissionfor Women

The state government has set up the State Commission for Women, which
acts as a consultative body to advise the government on legislative and de-
partmental policies concerning women. It also undertakes the necessary steps
at the level of the government and public to protect the constitutional and
legal rights to improve the status of women. The commission monitors the
implementation of laws and welfare measures, investigates complaints,
demands prosecution in offen ses committed against women, inspects police
stations lock-ups, sub jails and rescue hornes, etc., conducts public interest
litigation, and conducts studies and research, etc.

Haryana State Women Development Corporation (HSWDC)

A project for women's development with assistance from the International

Fund for Agricultural Development (lFAD) has been initiated by the
HSWDC - SWA-SHAKTI, in 1999. The overall objective of the project is to
launch a program that strengthens the process to promote the social and eco-
nomic development of women and creates an environment for social change
to improve their quality of life.
One of the major components of the program is the organisation and
sustenance of women's self-reliant Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The idea be-
hind bringing women together under SHGs is to mobilize the women, in-
crease their self-reliance and confidence, and improve their quality of life.
The strategy adopted in this project emphasizes the importance of an ho-
listic approach, inc1uding a judicious blend of empowerment and develop-
ment activities, in order to have broader impact on the lives of poor women.
Women are trained in different areas, such as income generating activities,
farm and animal management, commodity marketing and accounting. They
are also helped with their communications and management skills in order to
equip them with the confidence to interact with officials.
Gender lssues in Haryana and at ces Haryana Agricultural University 165

3. Gender Focus at Choudhary Charan Singh Haryan

Agricutural University (CCSHAU)

CCSHAU (earlier only HAU) was established in 1970 at Hisar, 163 km

North-West of Delhi. During the past thirty years, the university has built up
good facilities on the campus at Hisar as weIl as at outstations. The university
has seven colleges at the Hisar campus, incIuding the College of Horne Sci-
ence, established in 1973. The university has a mandate ofteaching, research,
and extension education. The university offers B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D pro-
grams in various disciplines, and provides specialization in agriculture, vet-
erinary science, animal science, horne science, and basic sciences and hu-

Extension network

CCSHAU has a very strong and a unique system of providing extension

services for farm men and women. This responsibility of planning, organiz-
ing, conducting, and coordination of extension activities lies with the direc-
torate of Extension Education. Its main aim is the transfer of technology
(TOT) to potential farm men and women in the area of agriculture, animal
husbandry, women and child development, and other allied areas. This di-
rectorate has three major wings:
Farm Advisory Services: This is the major wing and the field arm for
transfer of technology. It covers the entire state of Haryana through its Farm
Advisory Service Centers commonly known as Krishi Vigyan Kendras
(KVKs) located at every district headquarter. These KVKs, presently nine-
teen, are grass root level vocational training institutions for bridging the gap
between what is and what ought to be in malters of agriculture, livestock, and
horne science technologies for farm men and women. The scientists working
at these centers have direct contacts with the farmers and farm women and
render the necessary advice at their doorsteps.
Farm Training Services: The KVKs as weIl as Institute of Agricultural
Technology Training and Education (JATIE) organize need based trainings
for farmers, rural women, rural youth, rural institutions, governmental de-
partments, extension personneI, social leaders, and other rural people and
agencies, having a bearing on rural development with the ultimate objective
of raising the level of living of rural families. To improve the quality of
trainings, there is a regular system of monitoring and evaluation of each
training program so as to obtain feedback for further improvements.
Farm Information Communication Service: The objective of this wing is
to provide audio-video and mass-media support to the other two components,
166 Savita Singal

besides organizing exhibitions, farmer's fair, etc. It also maintains linkages

with State Development Departments.

College of Horne Science

The basic idea of attaching ahorne science college to an agricultural univer-

sity was to provide beUer education facilities, especially for rural and urban
girls of Haryana, besides preparing them for the multiple roles, expected of
them in the future. Emphasis in the curriculum is on imparting essential
knowledge and skills and to imbibe in them confidence to use these in their
daily lives. It also equips them with entrepreneurial skills in the area of their
choice. The college has five distinct departments.

Gender Training and Research Focus in Various Departrnents

Dept. of Foods and Nutrition: The focus is on value addition of locally avail-
able and traditional health foods, supplementary /weaning foods, food pres-
ervation, bakery, meal planning, therapeutic nutrition etc.
Dept. of Family Resource Management: The focus is on developing and
promoting drudgery reducing technologies in horne, farm and livestock sec-
tors, sanitation technologies (safe drinking water, waste disposal, vermicom-
posting); energy saving technologies (smokeless woodstove, solar equip-
ment), income generating technologies (fIower making, pottery painting,
fabric painting, candle making etc.); economic empowerment of women;
environment issues, and consumer issues.
Dept. of Clothing and Textiles: The focus is on garment construction,
standardization of paper patterns, advanced dress designing, quilting, print-
ing, tie and dye, hand and machine embroidery, machine knitting and weav-
ing, and preparation of natural dyes.
Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies: The focus is on
awareness about reproductive and maternal health, pre- and post-natal care,
child care, marriage and family relations, capacity building, making of soft
toys and dolls as income generating activities, nursery school teacher's train-
ing, and child counseling.
Dept. of Extension and Education: The focus is on entrepreneurial moti-
vation and development, women' s socio-economic and political
empowerment, income generating activities ( making candles, detergent,
chalks, greeting cards, etc.), sensitizing on gender issues, awareness genera-
tion ab out social evils (dowry, foeticide and infanticide, etc.), awareness
about legal rights, cooperation in government programs for women.
Allied Departments: Training focus is on kitchen gardening, safe storage
of grains and rodent control, milk and milk products, mushroom production,
Gender Issues in Haryana and at ces Haryana Agricultural University 167

poultry keeping, dairy farming, bee keeping, post harvest technology of fruits
and vegetables, safe use of pesticides, and use of other improved agricultural

Wornen in Agriculture Scherne under Directorate of Extension


Considering the predominant role of women in agriculture and allied activi-

ties, a central sector scheme entitled "Women in Agriculture" has been
gran ted by the Ministry of Agriculture, New Delhi, Government of India,
since 1993-94 with the broad objective to motivate, mobilize, and organize
women farmers through group approach in order to channelize agricuItural
development programs and other support systems, such as the input support,
technological and extension support, etc. The target group consists of prac-
ticing women farmers, preferably from marginal and small families, decision
makers, operating the farm holding and have the capacity to adopt new tech-
nology and improve farm practice.


After years of being suppressed and exploited, women are now becoming
increasingly aware of their rights and privileges. State women's institutions
and programs have aimed at spreading awareness on issues such as literacy,
heaIth, nutrition, family welfare, and legal rights. With the state govern-
ment's evolving policies for women's empowerment, their contribution to
national development is growing with each passing day. An indication of
their social and economic change is the increasing number of income gener-
ating activities being controlled by women.
As far as discrimination against women is concerned, a number of laws
and legislation have been enacted, but an end to all types of discrimination
against women calls for chan ging attitudes and structures within the social,
political, and economic system. For this, there is an urgent need to mobilize
support in order to act collectively, to defend and protect women's human
rights, and to end all types of discrimination.
There is also a great need to revitalize the education system to make it
closer to the burning issues, to work towards their solutions, and to produce
sensitive persons who can play committed roles in developmental activities
for women in all sectors. Incorporating gender studies programs within the
teaching curricula will fulfill a special responsibility, i.e., to produce teachers
who are aware of the need for non-sexist education and who actively pick up
168 Savita Singal

the challenge to promote values of social equality, incIuding gender equality.

It will also promote increased collaboration between various disciplines in
teaching, curriculum designing, and research and extension activities, since
women' s studies are inter-disciplinary by nature.
Continuing efforts in research will help to generate data essential für the
evaluation and correction of development policies and programs.
For better understanding and investigation of the problems of women at
the grassroots level, a eIoser network between institutions of higher educa-
tion, women study groups, and groups working at the grassroot level could be
very valuable. Such networks would help universities to design need based
activities in a more meaningful manner. Networking helps to maximize out-
put through pooled resources, learning from each other' s experiences, and,
finally, bargaining collectively.
Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

Women's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus

Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal


In September 1996, the one-year Post Graduate Diploma Course on

Women' s Studies started at the Central Department of Horne Science,
Padmakanya Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Designed to provide conceptual and theoretical knowledge on women and
development and to initiate ways for the incorporation of gender analysis into
these areas, the "Gender and Development" program has sought to develop
academically qualified and personally motivated professionals for the
achievement of our fundamental goals: women's empowerment, gender
equality, and social justice.
This paper traces the initiation, implementation, evolution and continued
development of women's studies at Tribhuvan University, identifies the ways
in which national and global changes are influencing the perception of people
associated with the program, and discusses our challenges and plans for the

Historical Background .

Although women have been affected by Nepal' s development agenda since

the inception of the First Development Plan (1956-1961), the original focus
of these programs was welfare oriented. Given that women's productive roles
were unrecognized, women were, thus, never regarded as their own separate
target group. Then in 1975 the First World Conference on Women, held in
Mexico City, prompted worldwide analysis of "the status of women." Studies
and research were conducted to document socio-economic, cross-country
data conceming women's lives, and as a result, for the first time ever in
Nepal, intensive research on women was conducted by the Centre for Eco-
nomic Development and Administration (CEDA), Tribhuvan University,
(Bhadra & Thapa, 1995).
When the report was published in 1979, it showed that Nepalese women
were victims of rampant gender inequality, serving as an eye opener for
170 Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

planners, policy makers, academics, advocates, researchers, and activists.

Although these findings were not properly disseminated due to the male bias
and gender insensitivity of Nepal's educational curriculum, this study still
played a vital governmental role by documenting the degree to which women
served as the backbone of the Nepalese economy, most particularly in the
agricultural sec tor. Inevitably, the study was instrumental in creating a sepa-
rate policy chapter on women, which targeted to incorporate "Women in
Development (WID)" in the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-1985). The subse-
quent Seventh and the Eighth Five-Year Plans then further expanded the
WID policies, emphasizing women's contributions to development and
prompting the establishment of WID cells 1 by different line ministries there-
after (Asmita 2001, Bhadra 1995).
In accordance with changing national and international social structures
and in acknowledgment of WID's professional and academic relevance, the
Central Department of Horne Science of Padmakanya Multiple Campus,
Tribhuvan University first included "Women in Development" in its Master's
degree curriculum in 1990 (a paper of 100 marks). The major objective of the
course was to promote women's participation in development by raising
awareness about women' s issues (Manandhar, 2000). After six years of expe-
riences it was realized that a single paper on "Women in Development" could
not sufficiently address all aspects of women' s life. The need was feIt to
conduct a separate post graduate course on women' s studies.
The political impetus for a women's studies course goes back to the
1960's when the feminist movement in the international arena inspired at-
tempts in Nepal to address women's rights educationally, politically, legally
(as there was no democracy), and economically. But it wasn't until after the
1975 First World Conference on Women and subsequent conferences there-
after that Nepalese women first got their forum to exchange ideas and share
views with women from around the world.
As Nepalese women began to understand and analyze the issues raised in
feminist movements internationally, an attempt was made to examine
whether contemporary feminist theories were universally and categorically
applicable and/or relevant. Realizing the culturally diverse forms and
expressions of oppression and subordination, Nepalese feminists attempted to
identify and analyze the underlying causes of female subordination so that
theories could be systematically developed. In this regard, it was determined
that until and unless all women, especially the younger generation, clearly
understood the theories and issues involved, any positive change in women's
lives would be unattainable. The need was then feIt to introduce women's
studies in academia in order to provide systematic explanation of feminist
theories and gender concepts. Consequently, the Post-graduate Diploma in

Cells in this case are "women' s sections" in some ministerial departments.

Warnen 's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University 171

Women's Studies is also the outcome of this gender sensitivity and

awareness, especially among Nepalese women.
At the World Conference on Women at Nairobi in 1980, women from
around the world raised their voices against injustice, oppression, and vio-
lence. Inspired by this outcry, affirmative action initiatives regarding
women's health, educational status, and economic empowerment were im-
plemented in Nepal. The concept of Women and Development (WAD) was
present at that time, but it would be some years before the realization would
occur that the development of a country is not possible without developing
women's position in the society. Accepting the necessity of equal rights,
opportunities, and participation by and between men and women in the de-
velopment process, the concept "Gender and Development (GAD)" was in-
troduced during late 1980s. The GAD policy approach to development is
currently ongoing, and women continue to seek gender equity with gender
equality. To fulfil the demand and develop the thinking of both men and
women in this regard, the government of Nepal introduced the policy of
"Mainstreaming, Empowerment, and Gender Equality" in its Ninth Five-Year
Plan (1997). Again, the Post-graduate course in Women's Studies seemed the
perfeet initiative for the plan's implementation.
The Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) was the first
one held after the restoration of democracy in Nepal. Women representatives
from different Nepalese GOs and NGOs participated in it. Nepal expressed
its full commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action regarding gender
equa1ity and women's empowerment, and immediately after the conference,
the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare was established to work on
twelve areas of critical concern. Teaching and resource faculty from Tribhu-
van University women's studies program participated in the Beijing Confer-
ence as weil, and after their return, women from different disciplines feIt the
need for an academic program that would train young generations for the
fulfilment of the Beijing commitment.

Post-graduate Diplorna in Wornen's Studies at the Horne

Science Departrnent of Tribhuvan University

And so, as a result of international movements, national initiatives, political

developments, and academic desires, the Horne Science Department of Trib-
huvan University took up the project, and the one year, post-graduate Di-
ploma in Women's Studies was introduced as aseparate academic discipline
and singular course of study in 1996.
172 Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

Objectives and Curriculum

Since the outset, the program's major goal has been to promote the advance-
ment of women and strengthen their roles in the development process
through gen der focused post-graduate education and field-based research. To
this end, the coursework has been designed to provide basic conceptual and
theoretical knowledge on women and development; develop ways to put
gender analysis into practice; impart an analytical understanding of the roles
and responsibilities of women in cross-cultural perspectives; provide the
women in development perspective with theoretical and practical application;
and promote research, scholarship, and analytical skills in gender
The four major components of the program's curriculum are "Gen der
Concepts and Theories," "Women in Development," "Women in Politics,
Public Policies, Planning and Legal Systems," and "Research Methodology
from Gender Perspectives."

Curriculum outIine:

Gender Concept and Theories

Unit I - Basic Concept and Ideology of Gender

Objective: to impart to students conceptual and theoretical knowledge about
sex and gen der

Unit 11 - Patriarchy and Feminism

Objectives: to familiarize students with the concept of "patriarchy" and make
them understand its influences in various institutions of society and to ac-
quaint students with the concept of "feminism" and enable them to critically
analyse various forms of feminism

Unit III - Socio-cultural Aspect of Gender

Objectives: to impart to students the knowledge of the socio-cultural con-
struction of gender in the Nepalese context and to enable students to access
the status of women in Nepal

Unit IV - Sex and Gender in the Context of Social Change

Objectives: to provide analytical knowledge of women's subordination with
major focus on social change, to familiarise students with socialization re-
garding gender disparity at work, to differentiate between power and author-
ity, and to understand and observe the girl child situation in Nepal.
Wamen 's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University 173

Unit V - Construction ofWornen and Development Theory

Objective: to understand different theories of wornen and developrnent

Women in Development

Unit I - Introduction to Developrnent

Objectives: to understand the concept of developrnent and to analyze the
impact of rnacro econornic changes on wornen

Unit I1- Wornen's Work: TripIe Role -Theoretical to Ernpirical Perspectives

Objective: to farniliarize students with wornen's work and the multiple roles
ofwornen .

Unit III - Wornen's Role in Developrnent

Objective: to analyze different developrnent approach es taken on the role of
wornen in developrnent.

Unit IV - Wornen in Sec tor Developrnent

Objective: to analyze the role and status of women in sector developrnent

Unit V - Wornen in International Developrnent

Objective: to understand and analyze the role of wornen in international de-

Wamen in Politics, Public Policies and Legal System

Unit I - Wornen in Politics

Objective: to observe women's participation in politics

Unit I1- Wornen in Public Policies

Objective: to farniliarize students with wornen's participation in public poli-

Unit III - Wornen in the Legal System

Objective: to understand wornen's legal status in the constitution and statuary

Unit IV - Gender Gap: Impediments to Developrnent

Objective: to recognize that a gender gap exists and to realize that it hinders

Unit V - Gender Planning,Programrning, and Irnplernentation

Objective: to cornprehend that the gender gap can be resolved through gender
planning, prograrnrning, and irnplernenting
174 Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

Research Methodology from Gender Perspectives

Unit I - Conceptualization
Objective: to familiarize students with social research and feminist research

Unit 11 - Methodology
Objective: to provide knowledge on the evaluation of different research

Unit III - Proposal Development and Paper Writing

Objective: to familiarize students with the process of proposal development
and help students in developing proposals for individual studies

Unit IV - Data Analysis and Interpretation

Objective: to develop the ability to analyze and interpret research data

Unit V - Research Paper Writing

Objective: to acquire the ability to write a research paper

Teaching Faculty and Consultants

Fifteen faculty members from seven different departments of the Padma-

kanya Multiple Campus, nine from horne science, and one from economics,
political science, sociology, psychology, culture, and management respec-
tively, offer courses in the program along with well-known national and
international experts, resource people, academicians and scholars who facili-
tate periodically. Permanent women's studies faculty are additionally in-
volved in various short and/or long term gender training sessions, workshops,
and research activities both at horne and abroad. In addition, within the Advi-
sory Committee of the DRCIWS (Documentation and Resource Centre for
Women's Studies) there are members and representatives from GOs, NGOs,
women's organisations, and women's studies programs.


Interactive workshops and seminars are held on a regular basis conceming

issues related to women and gen der, e.g., women's participation in decision-
making, the political and legal empowerment of women, mainstreaming and
empowerment of women, roles and responsibilities of women in Nepalese
society and the status of women in Nepal.
Warnen 's Studies at Padrnakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University l75

Teaching/Learning Methods and Materials

Interactive and participatory teaching/learning methods in the program in-

dude: lectures, groups discussions, presentations (individual as weIl as
group), panel discussions, symposiums, participation in seminars/workshops,
case studies, role plays, guest speakers, group lectures, audio-visual presen-
tations, questions and answers, field visits, participatory field research, prac-
tices of statistical tools and interpretations, research projects, and use of the
Documentation and Research Centre along with other extra-curricular activi-

Evaluation Process

The evaluation process includes term papers, home assignments, dass tests
(written, oral, and presentation), dass attendance, dass participation, field
visits and report writing, final exams, and evaluation of research papers via
research committees.
As the culmination of their studies, students write a theses in which they
analyze from a gender perspective a topic of their choice relating to women.
TraditionaIly, thesis proposals are developed before coursework is conduded.
After the completion of final exams, students are then given three months to
complete their theses, during which time a faculty member whose expertise
pertains to the thesis topic supervises each student's research.


Each year the program graduates thirty to thirty-five students who after com-
pIetion of their coursework will have gained significant knowledge concern-
ing the entire social structure (economy, society, politics, law, religion, cul-
ture, etc.) from a gender perspective thereby developing expertise enabling
them to examine the situation of women in society as weB as equipping them
to work as change agents. Additionally, with increased commitment to
women's issues, students will also have been provided with the professional
and personal qualifications needed to undertake development work, research,
and action project challenges with informed gender perspectives.
176 Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

Societal Transition and People's Perception

In keeping with achanging worldwide development concept, Nepal has been

following Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP) in its national development
policy since the late 1980s. With SAP/globalisation, many macro economic
changes are taking place in Nepal along with changing attitudes of people.
The education system has concurrently become more market oriented as it
confronts a new generation of student who is more interested in seeking job-
oriented education than in acquiring knowledge in any particular discipline.
In accordance with this trend, women's studies students as well have diverted
their attention towards gender and development studies as opposed to the
more general field of women' s studies.
Nowadays, GOs, NGOs and other development agencies are demanding
highly educated experts from the new gender focused academic discipline
because of the practical advantages of coursework training. And now, having
realized the relevance of this evolving discipline, other departments of Trib-
huvan University are offering a paper on "Gender and Development" in their
Master's degree course programs as well. It was in this environment that the
women' s studies teaching and resource faculty and other feminist scholars
and academics were faced with a fundamental decision: should we, in the
future, exclusively produce feminist scholars and academics or gen der and
development experts as weil? I
To aid us in our decision, a need identification survey was conducted in
Kathmandu Valley. After creating, distributing, and compiling the results of
questionnaires that were sent to GOs, NGOs, and intellectuals of other disci-
plines, it was concluded that in a developing country like Nepal, the educa-
tion system should be development oriented. We must produce knowledge-
able professionals equipped to further national development by facing socie-
tal challenges. So in the future the main title of the course should be "Gender
and Development Studies."
Undertaking a gender and development course of study can often prove a
dualistic philosophical struggle for women students who Me critically con-
fronting Nepal's internalized social norms and values and gender practices.
The desire to implement change can be complicated in a country where eco-
nomic, social, and cultural constructs are so deeply-rooted with patriarchal
beliefs. On the one hand, women are fighting to change their oppressed place
in the existing social structure while on the other, in responding to globaliza-
tion forces many in the younger generation want to follow the path of a
changing world - to achieve top positions, earn higher salaries, and enjoy
better lives (which is still not known) without regards for a structural subor-
Warnen 's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University 177

dination that only increases with globalization. This dualism in thinking and
behaviour is currently complicating the Nepalese women's movement.
Nevertheless, positive changes are taking place. A variety of departments
at Tribhuvan University are introducing women's and gen der studies as sepa-
rate elements at their Master's and Bachelor's degree levels. In addition to
the aforementioned inc1usion of a long-term gender mainstreaming, women's
empowerment, and gender equality initiative in it's Ninth Five Year Plan
(1997-2002), the government has made some positive efforts in the evalua-
tion pattern of the Civil Service Commission and recently revised the com-
mission's curriculum from a gender perspective, introducing a compulsory
element on women and gender concepts. Also, the Tenth National Census is
presently underway in Nepal, and the Central Bureau of Statistics has made
enormous efforts to mainstream gender concerns and collect accurate gender
sensitive data for the national 2001 census.

Challenges to the Women's Studies Program

Pervasive patriarchy is one of the greatest challenges facing the women's

studies program. Because all social institutions in Nepal .:.- government, law,
religion, culture, education, etc. - are dominated by patriarchal ideology, all
educational institutions are dominated by men. Thus, educational policies
highly favour men as weil. In the beginning, women's studies was the first
and only coursework on "women" taught at Tribhuvan University. Becoming
aseparate academic discipline, meant facing challenges in every stage of its
development. From curriculum development to teacher's training and con-
ducting c1asses to evah,lating procedures, we have received little to no insti-
tutional support. And although gran ted legal recognition by Tribhuvan Uni-
versity, the program still receives no financial support and is solely sustained
through its high student tuition fees.
With its fifth graduating c1ass currently underway, the program continues
to face logistical problems concerning its organizational, spacial, and student
body composition. All faculty of the Women's Studies Program are part-time
with full time duties in other departments. C1asses are held on the Padma-
kanya Campus of Tribhuvan University, which is the only women's college
of the Nepalese government. The college has provided two rooms for the
program. One is for c1asses and another for the Documentation and Resource
Centre and administrative work. For conducting workshops/seminars or any
other extra curricular activities, space is hired from the Padmakanya campus.
Because the program operates within the umbrella of a women' s college,
male students are not allowed to study at the Padmakanya campus. And yet,
the prospectus c1early states that both men and women are allowed to partici-
178 Puspa Ghimire-Niraula

pate in the women' s studies program. In fact, one of the major objectives of
the program has been to educate and sensitize male members of the society,
but because males have not been able to participate, this goal has not been
realized and the program is facing criticism, incIuding from the staff of other
departments. At present, financial possibilities are being explored in order to
have aseparate building so that Master's work in women's studies can be
possible for male students as weIl.

Planning for the Future

Five years of experience has taught us that the one-year post-graduate di-
ploma program is not sufficient for imparting in-depth knowledge in
women' s studies. After completing the program, many students have called
for and/or sought Master's degrees in women's studies, applying for
admittance and scholarships to programs abroad.
In order to expand our program on the Master's level and receive ap-
proval by the executive board of the Tribhuvan University, we must first
fashion a curriculum according to the needs of our society and country that
would be both culturally relevant and academically recognized by universi-
ties internationally. At present, a curriculum development committee, com-
prised of teaching and resource faculty from the women's studies program as
well as a collection of experts from other disciplines, is developing a cur-
riculum for the proposed two year Master's Degree in Gender and Develop-
ment Studies.

Master's Degree in Gender and Development Studies

The primary objectives of the envisioned program incIude the following: to

empower students to create a socially just society through multidisciplinary
gender and development studies; to create academic excellence in gen der and
development through involvement in GAD research and knowledge formula-
tion; to train politically active and socially aware resource people who could
fight for their fundamental rights; to prepare a cadre of academics equipped
with theoretical, conceptual, and analytical understanding of the ideological
construction and enforcement of gen der, cIass and race differences cross-
culturally; ultimately, to produce academically sound and highly qualified
development oriented professionals and gender experts who could support
women's movements, develop networking with academic institutions and
Women's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University 179

advocacy groups, and act as change agents both at horne and abroad in gov-
ernment and non-government capacities as practitioners, development ex-
perts, academics, scholars, researchers, planners or policy makers.
In addition to our plans for the Master's level, the women's studies pro-
gram is also continuously co-ordinating various efforts to fulfill its long-term
goals and objectives. We seek to improve teacher qualifications by investi-
gating short and long-term educational and training opportunities and are
always encouraging teachers and students to participate in seminars, work-
shops, and research activities within and outside the department. To this end,
a research cell was recently formed to appoint an academic and research co-
ordinator. We also continue to collect recently published books, journals, and
other national and international publications and to seek financial sources in
order to fund new building space, field study, research activities, computers,
and other physical facilities. Lastly, we are ever exploring possibilities for
increased correspondence with short and long-term university exchange pro-
grams in order to further our networking with women's and gender studies
prograrns around the world.


Acharya, M.: Labour Market Development and Poverty. With Focus on Opportunities
for Women in Nepal. Kathmandu: Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation
in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2000
Asmita, Asmitako Jestha Anka- Kathmandu: Asmita Publications, 2001
Bhadra, c., and Thapa, S.: Women in the Agenda - International and National. A
paper presented in the Training for University Teachers in Post Graduate Di-
ploma Course on Women's Studies at Padmakanya Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan
University, Kathmandu (unpubl.) 1996
Central Department of Horne Science and Women's Studies: Post Graduate Diploma
in Women's Studies, Curriculum and Work Plan, Tribhuvan University, Kath-
mandu (unpubl.) 1995
Manandhar, L. K.: Padmakanya Bahumukhi Campusma Mahila Adhayan Bishayako
Pathanpathan, Swarna Mahotsab Smarika, Padmakanya Multiple Campus, Bag-
bazaar, Kathmandu, 2000
Ministry of Women and Social Welfare: Beijing Plus Five. Country Report. His Maj-
esty's Government ofNepal, Singh Durbar, Kathmandu,1999

Strategies ofWomen's Empowerment:

Women's Micro Enterprises in Nepal


One of the least developed and land-locked of countries, Nepal's 147,000 sq.
km consists geographically of snowy Himalayan peaks to its north, steeply
sloped hills spanning its centre, and an expanse of flat plains covering its
south. Economically, the growth of the Nepalese economy has been slow,
inconsistent, and unstable due to fluctuations in agriculture production, a
sector that is heavily dependent on monsoons and comprises 40% of the
country's gross domestic producL
Despite being a sm all country, unequal development, regional imbalance,
and socio-economic inequities widely exist in Nepal. Moreover, deteriorating
employment conditions over the years have proven the driving force behind
the perpetuation of mass poverty, which has been both accompanied by and a
catalyst for rampant deforestation.
According to The Ninth Five Year Plan, prepared by the National Plan-
ning Commission (NPC), 42% of Nepal's population is currently living be-
low the poverty line (defined as an income level of about 4,400 rupees (about
US$ 60) at 1996 rates) with 24.9 % designated as poor and 17.1 % as ultra
poor. With the greatest concentrations of poverty in rural areas, a regional
distribution of poverty reveals 41 to 42% of the population as living below
the poverty line in the country's hills and plains while in the mountains as
much as 56% of the population is considered impoverished.
It can be said that the current magnitude of poverty in Nepal is the result
of combined slow economic and rapid population growth as weil as conse-
quent unemployment problems. According to the National Agriculture Cen-
sus (NAC) 1991/92, 70% of landholdings are less than one hectare. At the
same time, the population growth rate is increasing by 2.6% annually, and the
total population of the country has reached about twenty-three million. Not
only is the resultant deprivation higher in rural areas, it is also greatest among
Opportunities have to be created so that this unemployed labour force
can retain and engage itself in rural areas.
182 fra Acharya

The Ninth Five-Year Plan has objectives of mainstreaming, eliminating

gender inequality, and creating additional job opportunities through the de-
velopment of micro enterprise and the objective to make women self-reliant.

Existing Scenario ofWomen in Nepal

Women comprise approximately half of Nepal's total population. During the

last decade, globalisation and the open market economy have prompted
changes in women's income generating activities. There has been a slow shift
in women' s employment participation from subsistence agriculture to local
market, micro enterprise and self-employment activities like carpet weaving,
wool spinning, and working in retail. However, the existence of traditional
cultural values in society has impeded the holistic development of women,
and they currently lag behind in their education and health status as weIl as in
their economic, legal, political, and decision-making capacities.

Table 1: Female Population and Life Expectancy at Birth

Year Population 01 Nepalese Women Lile Expectancy 01 Nepalese Women at Bi rth
1991 9,270,123 53.5
1992 9,519,576 54.0
1993 9,769,722 54.5
1994 10,021,124 55.0
1995 10,273,650 55.5
1996 10,527,158 56.0
1997 10,782,279 56.5
1998 11,039,588 57.0
1999 11,298,930 57.5
2000 11,560,278 58.0
(Source: Das 2000 : 224)

Drudgery and Socio-cultural Perceptions

"An unmarried girl must abey her father, a married

wamen her husband, and a widaw her children. "
(Nepalese proverb)

The majority of Nepalese women work an average of eleven hours a day,

which is two to three hours more than men work, and endure lives of toil and
drudgery. Burdened with reproductive and community responsibilities as
weIl as productive and household labour, women must clean, cook, care for
Strategies 01 Women 's Empowerment 183
young and elderly family members, participate in community meetings and
ritual-activities as weIl as perform income generating labour on farms, in
offices, and the market place.
In the hills of Nepal, for instance, much of women's time is spent in
family farming and animal husbandry. Women are also responsible for car-
rying water and providing fodder and fuel wood for their farms. In some
cases, even pregnant and lactating mothers must travel increasing distances
just to meet their household's daily needs. Although burdened with family
and farm responsibilities like these, women are nevertheless not considered
"farmers." Instead, women's household, reproductive, community, and farm
labour is categorically regarded as "women's work"- that which is socially
and economically unrecognised and undervalued.


"No matter how clever, experienced and educated a

women is, her ideas, opinions, and her judgement
will always be rated second. "
(Nepalese proverb)

Generally speaking, Nepal's education system is gen der biased - glVlng

priority to the patriarchal value of society both curricularly and
philosophicaIly. Thus, 75% of Nepalese wornen are illiterate. Although the
literacy rate for women in urban areas is quite high, in rural areas, high
school dropout rates, early marriages, drudgery, and poverty are the main
causes of female illiteracy. Many rural women cannot even read or write their
own names and must use their thumbprints as signatures. -
It is found, however, that those women who can read and write have de-
veloped a sort of confidence among other illiterate women.
Taken together, a woman's heavy work burden paired with her lack of
literacy can have a direct effect upon her health.

Table 2: Literacy Rate ofWomen

Census Year Lileracy Rale ("10)
1971 3.91
1981 12.05
1991 24.73
1996 27.00
(Source: Population Census, 1971, 1981, 1991 and NPC 1996)
184 fra Acharya

Mobility and Migration

"A woman's place is at home not outside."

(Nepalese proverb)

The majority of Nepalese women have extremely limited mobility outside of

their hornes, giving them little access to information and reduced capacity for
economic dealings. Consequently, women's levels of social and self-confi-
dence are relatively lower than men's.
Since the rural labour force is engaged in agriculture for only six months
of the year, there is a steady flow of migration from rural to urban areas.
Male migration for employment has become a major source of income for the
Nepalese household, most especially in the western and eastern hills of Ne-
pal. Finding intermittent employment as labourers in India and Gulf coun-
tries, men leave the care of the entire household, incIuding responsibility for
all young and elderly family members, to their wives for lang periods of
time. In the face of these multiple work burdens, women only receive income
from their husbands irregularly. Additionally, women' s numerous household
responsibilities restrict them from devoting more time to finding employment
outside of their villages and thus keeps women's labour migration rates lower
than men's.

Access to Property, Labour Market Participation, and


"Bringing up a daughter is like wate ring

a plantfor someone else's garden."
(Nepalese proverb)

A women has no access to paternal property unless she is still unmarried at

thirty-five years of age whereas a married woman is only eligible to receive
her husband's property share if she has proven herself an "honest" wife for at
least fifteen years. Even if the husband has substantiallandholdings and holds
property in his wife's name, the wife cannot seIl that property without the
consent of her husband, nor can she use that property independently. Thus,
such women have access to resources but no practical control over them.
Rural, uneducated women work in agriculture as weil as run micro-en-
terprises, and some are working as labourers in factories. However, these
women are not enjoying equal pay for equal work. When employed in some
garment and carpet industries, women are facing inadequate maternity leave,
lack of childcare facilities, and the difficulties of working outside the horne.
Strategies ofWomen's Empowerment 185

Table 3: Female Labour Force (15 Years & Above)

Agriculture Non-Agriculture
1961 1,688,361 43,674
(96.9%) (2.5%)
1971 1,156,070 24,125
(98%) (2.0%)
1981 1,876,338 64,158
(95.7%) (3.3%)
1991 2,437,627 257.373
(90.45%) (9.55%)
(Source: Das, 2000: 225)

Educated Nepalese women find regular employment in cities and towns and
are working in almost all departments of the government and private busi-

Table4: Female Civil Servants by Type of Service: 1992

Type of Service Number Percentage
Administration 54 10.4
Agriculture 48 9.2
Health 228 43.8
Engineering 52 10.0
Education 47 9.0
Forestry 44 8.4
Judicial 5 0.9
Accounting 3 0.6
Miscellaneous 40 7.7
Total 521 100
Source: Centra1 Bureau of Statistics, 1993

Also, Nepalese women are emerging as entrepreneurs in micro enterprises

and small businesses such as vegetable vending, retail shop and parlour
keeping, weaving and textile working, bamboo crafting, furniture repairing,
carpeting, tailoring, noodle making, etc.
The Nepalese Labour Act of 1992 defines legally registered activities
related to industry, business, trade, and other services as either part of an
"organised" or "formal" sector. Enterprises that are not legally registered,
such as petty trading, tailoring, knitting, weaving, vegetable vending, iron-
smithing, shoemaking, carpentry, working with clay, etc., are included in the
"informal" sector. An owner who employs hirn or herself in addition to one
to five other people with low capital investment is considered an "informal"
entrepreneur, and the majority of Nepalese wornen work within this sec tor. It
is presumed that women are concentrated in these enterprises because such
business endeavours call for traditional and/or simple skills, are not necessary
186 lraAcharya

to register, draw non-taxed income, can be located within the horne, are easy
to organise, and require only low risks and/or investments.
Problems for women involved in micro-enterprises are that money con-
straints prevent them from expanding their businesses. Women are always
behind in the decision making process and in mobilisation of economic re-
sourees; and these social baITiers ultimately restrict the overall, long-term
development of women.

Government Intervention on Women's Empowerment

In 1975 Nepal joined the world in celebrating International Women's Year,

and since then it has initiated national efforts for women's development. For
example, priority was given to the uplifting of women in the Sixth Five-Year
Plan (1980-1985), and aseparate ministry was opened in the Eighth Five-
Year Plan. And yet, the hoped for progress was not achieved due to lack of
effective implementation. Since the restoration of democracy (1991), some
women's welfare initiatives have been implemented, plus women gained the
opportunity for women's access to international linkage/networking, and the
acknow ledgement of women' s education as basic right/need.
Various institutions were established, e.g. the Women Farmer' s Devel-
opment Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Children and Women
Development Section in the National Planning Commission, and the Ministry
of Women and Social Welfare. Also, bilIs were drafted or passed: the Draft
of Women's Equality Bill, the Children and Women Equality Bill, and the
"Equality and Empowerment Approach." It was made compulsory for one
woman to be elected at the ward level. After the local elections of 1997,
thirty-six thousand women are now involved in local governance.
Additionally, the government has committed itself to gender equality in
numerous international conventions and conferences in the economic, social,
administrative, and legal sectors, and gender mainstreaming was incorporated
in Her Majesty's Government's (HMG's) agenda. Consequently, HMG and
Nepalese NGOs made presentations to the UN Convention on the Elimina-
tion of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee
Strategies ofWomen's Empowerment 187

Women andEntrepreneurial Development

A number of efforts have been made towards the development of women's

micro enterprises over the years by government, national and international
non-governmental organisations (NGOs and INGOs), and private institutions.
The Small Farmer Development Program (SFDP), the Production Credit for
Rural Women (PCRW), the Micro-Credit Project for Women (MCPW),
Nirdhan, and the Centre for Self Help Development (CHD) all provide assis-
tance and interventions, like micro-credit programs and skill and entrepreneu-
rial training. However, most of the programs lack an integrated package of
continuing support services for sustainable development. Furthermore, some
credit-based programs are weak with respect to skills and entrepreneurial
techniques. Most skill development programs provided are not linked with
entrepreneurial organisations or marketing networks within and outside the
country, questioning the development and sustainability of the enterprises.
Lastly, because most of the training programs are supply driven, women are
not getting need-based training, and there are poor networking and weak
linkages of service delivery institutions, like entrepreneurship, skill, capital,
and market.
Supply driven training programs have been useless to rural poor, because
they cannot use the acquired skills to run enterprises. Business development
training is very limited and credit programs have been hindered by lengthy
loan processing in financing institutions. And, the weakness in delivery in-
stitutions has had negative impact on rural communities, as they are unable to
ascertain what the actual needs of women have been regarding appropriate
technology, business management, and marketing.
Although lack of sales is the major cause of closure of many micro en-
terprises, marketing has been the virtually missing element in all of the
women' s development programs. Entrepreneurs have lacked information
about market opportunities and ways to access potential markets and business
plans. Networking and partnership building at the local level among govern-
ment and local organisations, private institutions, and other service compo-
nents are insufficient or nearly non-existent. In addition, products have re-
portedly not been able to find a market due to the absence of protection rules
for domestic micro-enterprise products.
Given this scenario, the government has feIt the necessity for a holistic,
demand-driven program for the development of women's micro enterprisein
188 Ira Acharya

Women Entrepreneurship's Bottlenecks

According to the National Warnen Entrepreneur's Directory 1997, prepared

and published by the Women Entrepreneurs Development Committee of
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI),
Kathmandu, Nepalese women are actively engaged in about fifty varieties of
enterprises, and around 90% of such activities are in the informal sector.
Furthermore, the Centre for Economic and Technical Studies reports that the
estimated informal sector activities in Nepal represent as high as 90% of the
total economic activity of the country. (Das, 2000: 222)
And yet despite this viability, there is certainly space for improvement.
In this modern and competitive industrial worId, both formal and informal
businesses, be they run by women or men, must be competitive and progres-
sive; otherwise, their survival is uncertain. Some major bottlenecks for the
development of women entrepreneurship in Nepal have been as follows: the
identification and selection of viable enterprise; the lack of developmental
efforts for increasing women's entrepreneurial and managerial skills, such as
opportunity identification, business planning, product pricing etc.; limited
knowledge of markets; lack of education, skiIls, experience and self-confi-
dence; predominant socio-cultural and socio-economic roles and family
background~; the absence of new and appropriate technology; the lack of
information and networking; and the non-availability of raw materials.

Empowerment of Women through the Micro-Enterprise

Development Program (MEDEP)

Because of the increasing numbers of women who are changing their occu-
pations from subsistence agriculture to micro enterprises and self-employ-
ment, the Micro-Enterprises Development Program (MEDEP) has emerged
to contribute to the government's efforts on poverty reduction in rural areas,
as specified in the National Ninth Five-Year Plan. The program's mission is
the development of micro-entrepreneurs with 70% women and 30% men
from low-income families and the creation of a micro-enterprise services
mechanism that will enable low-income families to achieve sustainable live-
lihoods based on local demand. In this context, Nepalese planners are in the
process of promoting new and existing micro-enterprises, which are easy to
operate and require less capital with less physical effort and thus are attrac-
tive to prospective women entrepreneurs. Every micro-enterprise requires
expertise, enthusiasm, risk, and organisational capabilities, and wherever
Strategies 01 Wornen 's Ernpowerrnent 189

these elements have been evident, the enterprises have turned out profitable
with low input and high output.
MEDEP is being implemented through phases in ten districts of Nepal.
The Ministry ofIndustry in association with the United Nations Development
Program (UNDP), and a number of partner organisations working in the
country conduct the program.
In order to abolish the deep-rooted supply driven approach of many
training programs, MEDEP has initiated the promotion of micro enterprises
that are specifically based on local needs and resources and have market
potential. The other components, like skill, credit, marketing, etc., are linked
accordingly. The success criterion of MEDEP is based on the market poten-
tial and the special needs of women. New and existing micro enterprises from
poor families are linked to local delivery organisations so that micro enter-
prises expand and incomes increase. In the Sunsari district, women have been
successfully supplementing their family incomes through a variety of enter-
prises, some of which now produce import substitutes like tika, soap, noo-
dIes, and sweets. Thus, MEDEP provides a holistic and longitudinal support
Overall, MEDEP has become an effective tool in rural industrialisation in
Nepal in a number of ways. Micro-enterprises have become perennial sources
of income for rural women providing them with sustainable livelihoods and
thus reducing the poverty in their households. Women with previously sm all
budgets are now able to meet basic needs, like education, health, and horne
repairs, during the rainy season. They have also been able to upgrade and
balance their nutrition and buy clothes.
Before the program, these women had to rely on loans from local mon-
eylenders to cover expenses, but now a feeling of solidarity has been devel-
oped among women that has led to the development of business co-opera-
tives from which women can receive training, credit, and appropriate tech-
nology, further diminishing the compulsion to take credit from moneylenders
or other financial institutions.
Furthermore, micro-enterprises have not only improved women's current
incomes but their expectations for future incomes as weIl. The women have
developed a new sense of confidence and are making plans for the future.
This in turn has gained women decision-making roles both within the family
and community. Family members, especially husbands, are recognising the
importance of women's roles, and as these roles are gaining recognition and
respect, the patriarchal value system is weakening. Micro enterprise has thus
provided economic as weIl as social development for Nepal's poor.
190 IraAcharya

Success Stories

Dedicated entrepreneur and member of the Sramjivi Laghu Udyam Samuha

of Madhesa Village Development Committee (VDC), Ms. Sita Ghimire
started tailoring as a profession after taking Micro Enterprise Creation
Training (MEC) training from MEDEP. She took a loan of NRs.5,OOO/-
(about US$ 68.00) from the Agriculture Development Bank, Nepal (ADBIN)
and to date has purchased one new sewing machine, given employment to
one woman, earns NRs. 6,000/-(about US$ 81.00) per month, and has greatly
improved her living condition.
After taking a loan of NRs.5,000/- (about US$ 68.00) from ADBIN and
receiving guidance from MEDEP, housewife and treasurer of Pindari Laghu
Udayam Samuha of Varaul Village Development Committee Ms. Chechani
Devi Choudhari started her own doughnut enterprise. Now earning Rs.8,000/-
(about US$ 108.00) per month, she has fully engaged her husband in her
enterprise, enrolled her son in boarding school, replaced her thatch roof with
tin, and successfully improved her standard of living.
An unemployed youth before entering the MEDEP program, Ms. Fulsar
Choudhari, member of the Shiva Ratri Laghu Udaym Samuha of Tanamuna
Village Development Committee, received a credit of NRs. 5,000/- (about
US$ 68.00) from a bank and currently earns NRs. 3,500/- (about US$ 47.00)
per month enabling her to provide financial support to her family.
Asari Devi Choudhari (Chairperson), Dukahni Devi Choudhari (Treas-
urer), Anar Mochi (Secretary), Hemti Choudhari (Member), Batahi Choud-
hari (Member) - Before MEDEP, these women entrepreneurs of Laxmi
Mudha Samuha of Dumraha VDC used to make bamboo stools in their free
time. However, after participating in MEC training, refresher training in
bamboo craft, and a MEDEP sponsored exposure visit to other parts of the
country to encounter similar types of enterprises, each woman now earns
NRs.2,000/-(about US$ 27.00) per month. The members of this group are
delighted with their enterprise as weIl as the perennial source of income it
provides to their respective households. Ms. Dukhani Devi Choudhary
(Treasurer), for instance, used her earnings to help bear the cost of her
daughter's marriage three months ago, considerably relieving an otherwise
difficult financial strain with earnings from this successful enterprise.
After taking MEC and skill training in bakery enterprise with the support
of the MEDEP and taking a credit of NRs.8,000/ (about US$ 108.00) from a
bank, Ms. Bhawani Phunyal, chairperson for the Jagriti Laghu Udam Samuha
of Madhesha VDC, is now running her own bakery enterprise. Her brother
has invested money in this venture and assists her in marketing in main mar-
ket centres. She earns NRs.6,000/- (US$ 81.00) per month and employs two
permanent employees. Since MEDEP's intervention, she has considerably
improved her economic condition and is quite pleased with her enterprise.
Strategies 01 Women 's Empowerment 191

Suggested Measures for Improving the Conditions of

Women in the Informal Sec tor in Nepal

Given that women are neither as experienced or established as men in the

economic activities of the informal sec tor, it is the primary responsibility of
the planners of both governmental and non-governmental organisations to
provide need-based, demand-driven pro grams for enhancing women's par-
ticipation in both the informal and formal sectors.
A number of measures should be considered for improving the condi-
lions of women in the country's informal sec tor. First, women entrepreneurs
should be promoted by forming homogeneous groups and establishing saving
practices and mobilisation of local resources. Women entrepreneurs should
also be encouraged to establish co-operatives that facilitate the marketing of
their products and help them avoid unfair buying and selling practices popu-
lar in the informal sec tor. Equally important, networking with local institu-
tions should be emphasised and encouraged, and women entrepreneurs de-
velopment associations should be established in all villages to provide need
based training programs, appropriate technology, and improved quality of
product as well as to gather and disseminate information related to enter-
prises. Moreover, there should be capacity building of service delivery in-
stitutions, and adequate policy and legal frameworks should be created to
avoid discriminatory practices, such as inequality in property, business own-
ership and inheritance rights, in addition to unavailability of economic op-
portunities for women. Lastly, media should be used both to sell the products
that are produced by women entrepreneurs and to create awareness about the
issues and problems these women face.
Overall, more opportunities must be provided to Nepalese women in the
areas of education and economic resources in order to eliminate social ine-
quality and to encourage female empowerment. For when social inequality
exists anywhere, the development of human beings is adversely affected


Acharya, Meena: Labour Market Developrnent and Poverty: With Focus on Opportu-
nities for Wornen in Nepal, Tanka Prasad Acharya Memorial Foundation (TPMF)
in coop. with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kathrnandu 2000
Das, Prabhakar Lai: Gender Studies. Kathrnandu: Rekharani Publications, 2000
Manandhar, Laxmi Kesharil Bhattachan, Krishna B. (Eds.): Gender and Dernocracy in
Nepal. Central Departrnent of Horne Science - Wornen's Studies Program -
Tribhuvan University, in coop. with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kathrnandu 2001
192 Ira Acharya
Tuladhar, Jyoti: Factors Affecting Wornen Entrepreneurship in Srnall and Cottage
Industries in Nepal. Opportunities and Constraints, ILO and SIDA, 1996
Sheila Meintjes

The Dilemmas üf Gender Mainstreaming für Gender

Studies in Süuth Africa

This paper is an attempt to refleet on gender studies in the eontext of South

Afriea's monumental shift from authoritarianism to demoeraey and the im-
peratives of a eountry whose priorities are reeonstruetion and development.
The most remarkable feature of the transition has been in the rapid growth of
Blaek students in all South Afriean universities. At the same time, equity and
transformation have been harnessed together in a restrueturing of all univer-
sities in the eountry. This proeess has dramatieally ehanged the nature of
university eulture, where voeation and professionalism, linked to eosts, have
shifted edueational priorities.
The questions that frame the diseussion are linked to how feminist aea-
demies have engaged in the transformation proeess in soeiety and in aeade-
mia. What have been the ehallenges for wornen and gender studies in our
soeiety; and wh at have been our strategies? I eonsider the ways in whieh
feminist aeademies have both been aetive and positioned themselves in rela-
tion to the broader proeesses of political ehange and their interventions in the
university as weil. The paper diseusses the eontext within whieh gender
studies has emerged, the debates about the foeus on "wornen" and "gen der"
within that eontext, and the outeome of those debates. In partieular, the paper
eonsiders the question of "gen der mainstreaming" that has beeome the major
strategie trajeetory of gender poliey in South Afriea and wh at implieations
and effeets this has on gender studies. The diseussion foeuses upon the ex pe-
rienees at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and makes no
claims to refleet the experienees of all universities in South Afriea. I begin
the paper with abrief diseussion of the eontext within whieh the transition
oeeurred, foeusing on the nature of organization in eivil soeiety and the role
of aeademies within that.
194 Sheila Meintjes

Contextual Background

In 1990, when South Africa' s many political prisoners, including Nelson

Mandela, were released from long-term imprisonment to begin talks about a
transition to full democracy, there was a great sense of euphoria and triumph
that our struggles for liberation had come to fruition. The underground or-
ganizations were unbanned, and a new process of open democratic political
debate and political activity began. Apartheid had mobilized widespread
organized and spontaneous opposition in society on every front, including
amongst wornen as aseparate constituency. Amongst women, there were two
strands of organizational activity, one around violence against women and
the other around the political objectives of democratic freedom. The separate
political organization of women was a tacit acknowledgement that women
might have particular needs and interests different from, though consonant
with, the broader objectives of the struggle for liberation.
The emergence in the early 1980s of a broad front of organizations in the
United Democratic Front (UDF) constituted alandmark in the development
of internal struggles against apartheid. The UDF was comprised of civic
organizations; youth organizations, including school pupils; the anti-con-
scription organization of whites, called the End Conscription Campaign; and
women's organizations. The trade unions formed a supportive constituency
that at first did not formally join the UDF. All brought a range of more or less
developed dernocratic participatory practices that informed a popular demo-
cratic vision. This was not a simple Black-White confrontation, for opposi-
tion formed against the homeland governments, and Black community coun-
cils saw the emergence of a complex pattern of collaboration and resistance
virtually everywhere. In this context, the apartheid state responded with re-
pression and reform, and the 1980s witnessed· the unprecedented militariza-
tion of society. South Africa was in the throes of a civil war, in wh ich it was
hard not to take sides, and the universities had not been excluded from the
state's plans to systematize segregation in the policy of "separate develop-
The discourse of separate development by the state suggested a multi-
plicity of identities and needs, but the reality was of separate and unequal
treatment. In 1959, the government had declared that different population
groups, defined by the Population Registration Act in terms of racial catego-
ries, should have their own separate universities. The Universities Act ex-
tended this to ethnic differentiation. Universities for each ethnic homeland
and for the so-called "Coloured" and Indian people were established during
the apartheid years, as were a number of English and Afrikaans universities.
The older English speaking universities, unlike the new "national" entities
introduced onto the tertiary education map, upheld a liberal and constitutional
vision of a free and democratic society and were called the "Open Universi-
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming for Gender Studies 195

ties." They attempted to maintain their intellectual "academic" independence

whilst admitting that academic freedom did not in fact exist under apartheid.
The major concern of much social science enterprise in the universities
from the 1960s onwards would be to explore the impact of apartheid on the
economy and on society. There were essentially three paradigms that en-
gaged scholarship: one from anationalist perspective emanating from the
new ethnic universities; another more complex set of liberal perspectives
from the "Open" universities; and, from the late 1960s, a more radical tradi-
tion, which was influenced by the range of Marxist theories available in the
North. As in the academic canon of the North, all were essentially androcen-
tric. The challenge of feminist perspectives followed the trajectory and tim-
ing of the Northern challenge from the late 1970s onwards.
The condition of women in South Africa had been weil researched during
the 1940s and 1950s as an expression of the concern for the weil being of
African family life (Brandel 1955; Kuzwayo 1960; Weiss 1950). And, the
struggles of women against the pass laws in the 1950s corroborated this, as
the Federation of South African Women protested against the pass laws and
the dangers of splitting up families in the exclusion of migrant wives from
town. Protest also embraced Bantu Education and conditions in the townships
and reserves. In the 1960s and 1970s, when Black Consciousness emerged to
challenge White domination and baasskap, Black women were among this
new generation of radical Africanist Black intellectuals. At the same time, the
1970s saw trade union organization emerge from the strikes of 1973. Women
were at the forefront of this new organizational impetus. The trade unions,
especially, drew radical, Marxian intellectuals into their domain. Then, in
1976, the dramatic protest action of school pupils in Soweto against instruc-
tion in Afrikaans, and the subsequent riots, saw the beginnings of a powerful,
intrepid youth involvement in national struggles. The discourse in all these
arenas became revolutionary and questioned the strategic direction of organ-
izational energies. Left wing and radical Africanist academic intellectuals
were part of these debates and activities. The organizational specificity of the
political struggles in South Africa against apartheid brought theory and praxis
During this time, too, women organized around a number of pressing is-
sues that today we would define as their "interests." Some of these areas were
in tradition al areas of women's organization, concerns linked to the "caring"
and domestic responsibilities of women; consumer concerns, wh ich in the
late 1970s turned into consumer boycotts; and parents organizing around
educational issues, which turned into support for the youth movements. The
politics of every-day life became platforms for demands for radical change in
South African governance politics. These took various and diverse forms.
In the 1970s, too, a new gender based movement burst its way into the
political terrain. This was the formation of the first "rape crisis" organization
in Cape Town by a group of radical feminists. Organizations soon formed in
196 Sheila Meintjes

other centers, especially Durban and Johannesburg. At first small and limited
to White women, anti-violence against women organizations spread among
Black and Coloured women during the 1980s. These activists separately took
up the issue of violence against womenin the townships. It was not a struggle
that engaged men in any way but instead focused on the way the authorities
created a double jeopardy for women who were battered or raped and took
the perpetrators to court. It was in this arena that academics entered the de-
bate, for they beg an to undertake research into the experience of survivors,
particularly in relation to police treatment and court procedures, as weIl as to
raise questions of legal bias. Influenced by developments in other parts of the
world, debate about how to engage the state around reform of policing and
the laws entered the discourse around violence against women. A new area of
criminology and fern in ist jurisprudence in South Africa was the outcome of
this activism (Hanssen 1992: 10-18; Meintjes 1999: 8-10). The development
of these new legal academic areas has had an important influence on the
nature and formation of social policy on violence against women. I will re-
turn to the academic significance of this activism later.
A second arena of women's organization was political. Women came to-
gether in the early 1980s in different parts of the country to form regional
organizations whose common objective was to further the struggle against
apartheid and, at the same time, to further the particular interests of women in
that struggle. Although there was some debate about organizational auton-
orny, the need to organize women separately was, in the main, taken for
granted. Instead, the main question was whether organization would be fed-
eral or tied to organizations with individual members. The objective of a
separate organization was two-fold: to provide an arena where women could
develop their organizational and leadership skiIls, and, secondly, to mobilize
women separately for the broader struggle against apartheid. In this process,
women's interests beg an to be articulated in new ways. Issues of gender
power and authority in the horne became issues for discussion and educa-
tional activism. Such an example took place in the Cape, where branches of
the United Women's Organization developed cross-cultural mimed plays that
provided a trenchant critique of women's "tripIe burden," as wives, as moth-
ers, and as workers, and showed how men assumed the power as heads of'
families without participating in domestic labour. 1
The 1980s saw university students of all races become heavily politi-
cized. The numbers of Black students in the open universities were growing,
especially at graduate level. Black student concerns were for improved finan-
cial resources from the state and for the end to racial discrimination in edu-
cational opportunities. In response to the alienation of White dominated in-

One particularly memorable play was performed during the UWO Congress in 1983 before
a mixed audience of women and men from various political constituencies. The author was
present and participated in this event.
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming for Gender Studies 197

stitutions, students from oppressed groups organized themselves into Black

student organizations, demanding fee reductions, pressing for more and im-
proved residences, and reflecting material concerns that were different from
the majority of White, middle dass students. White students involved in the
anti-apartheid struggles reflected their own, rather different, opposition by
organizing against conscription. For White men, this was a dominant prob-
lem, and study at university became a me ans of postponing military service.
Young white women became equally involved in the End Conscription Cam-
paign. The late 1980s saw the demise of the White student organization, the
National Union of South African Students, and the formation of a new inte-
grated national student organization. In effect, the dominance of White stu-
dents in national student politics began a rapid dedine as Black students took
center stage.
At the same time, there was a significant reaction of women students to
the male dominance in national student politics. An active minority of politi-
cized women students from all sec tors came together in a university based
"Women's Movement." This crossed the barriers of dass and race in a
unique organizational way. This constituency pressed for, and was the main
recipient of, the courses on feminist politics and gen der in development,
which were finding their way into the curriculum in an ad hoc fashion during
the late 1980s.

Feminism in Academia

It was during the 1970s and 1980s that feminist courses focusing on wornen
as agents in history and society beg an to filter into the university curriculum.
This process was championed by individual feminist academics at institutions
across the country who were themselves opening new avenues for gendered
social research. Jackie Cock, a sociologist from Rhodes University, who
moved to the University of the Witwatersrand in the early 1980s, produced
the first of the "second wave" studies on women in South Africa and focused
on the cross-cutting position of women in society engendered by race. Her
book, entitled Maids and Madams, looked at the way in which race divided
women and thus was an early example of how, in South Africa at least, es-
sentializing women's experience was impossible. This was quickly followed
by the publication in 1982 of Cherryl Walker's germinal University of Cape
Town Master's dissertation, Wamen and Resistance in Sauth Africa. In this
book, Walker traces the different ways in which women from different dass,
race, and ideological backgrounds engaged in struggles for gender equality
and women's political rights. From the University of the Witwatersrand So-
ciology Department, Belinda Bozzoli influenced the thinking about patriar-
198 Sheila Meintjes

chy in South Africa. In a widely cited 1983 artide, she teased out the differ-
ential strands, not of a unitary system of male domination in South African
capitalist transformation but, of a patchwork quilt of patriarchies, "a system
in which forms of patriarchy are sustained, modified or entrenched in a vari-
ety of ways depending on the internal character of the system in the first
place" (Bozzoli 1983: 149). This research was followed by a plethora of
studies on different aspects of women' s struggles.
Whilst individual academics pursued their research in these areas, they
also tried to develop courses for the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
The system of having courses adopted in different universities in South Af-
rica was more or less bureaucratic. A lecturer would propose a course, pro-
vide an outline, and present this to the department, either as a core course or
as an option. If this was accepted, it moved into a next phase for a formal
process of discussion and acceptance by the faculty board. Undergraduate
courses used to be the province of the discipline, unless there was glaring
overlap with sister disciplines, such as politics or philosophy, or where there
might be some tussle about overlap, such as in African politics and African
history. In these cases, the faculty board was able to resolve such problems.
When the first courses on women made their way into curriculum develop-
ment, there was an interesting debate about whether these constituted "a
serious academic and intellectual pursuit" (this was certainly my own experi-
ence at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989 when I proposed my first
"Gender and Politics" course after my appointment that year), reflecting the
embedded androcentric views of male academics.
The new courses on women developed by feminists in different depart-
ments depended upon the capacity of individuals to argue within their own
disciplines. The courses drew on the research undertaken by both South Afri-
can feminists and feminists in other parts of the Third World and in the
North. Courses turned upon some of the debates emanating from the Euro-
pean and American women's movements - liberal, radical, and socialist
perspectives were discussed and debated in South Africa. Debates about
women in development that were engaged at the Conference of Socialist
Economists and at the Institute of Development Studies in the 1970s and
early 1980s came horne with academic feminists who had studied abroad and
been involved in those debates. The challenge of Third World feminism and
the debates on race and dass that challenged the somewhat essentialist ap-
proaches of some western feminism was embraced within South African
feminist thinking. 2

2 I participated in the Subordination of Women Conference in England in the late 1970s, for
instance. Later, in the 1980s, I developed courses critically examining Women In Devel-
opment, Wornen and Developrnent, and Gender and Developrnent, drawing on my own ex-
perience in rural organisation, and the literature emanating from the North, especially from
the Institute of Developrnent Studies at Sussex University. I developed new courses during
The Dilemmas 0/ Gender Mainstreaming tor Gender Studies 199

During the 1990s, there was a gradual acceptance of feminist concerns in

the University of the Witwatersrand. A gender forum was establishedin
1989-90 to take up gen der equity issues that vigorously identified areas of
gender inequality in conditions of service for staff. The forum also beg an a
seminar series that has been running ever since 1991 and that has now be-
come part of the Gender Studies Program. The forum drew attention to the
masculinist culture of the institution, in particular the widespread tolerance of
sexual harassment. This was linked to the glass ceiling for women academics,
whose promotion in the university depended upon different, and rather more
onerous, goal posts. In response to somewhat rowdy protests by women aca-
demics and women students, the university set up a Committee of Inquiry
into Sexism and Sexual Harassment in 1990. Taking the lead from develop-
ments at the University of Cape Town, where as Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr.
Mamphele Ramphela, (a medical doctor, social anthropologist and Black
Consciousness leader who had been severely persecuted under apartheid) had
spear-headed a gender equity project on Sexual Harassment, the Vice Chan-
cellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Robert Charlton, set
up a board on sexism and sexual harassment that set about investigating the
rules of conduct and disciplinary procedures around these issues. The board
existed for two years, to be replaced by a range of different committees dur-
ing the following years, as the university engaged in a process of restructur-
ing. This process was one which might be described as a struggle between a
(largely) White patriarchy and a (largely) Black fraternity about the terms of
a new democratic dispensation in the university. The outcome has been
similar to what is recognized all over the world: greater power residing in the
executive, a more professional managerial bureaucracy in control of the fi-
nances of the university, and a reduced and more streamlined vocational
focus of academic endeavour.


The restructuring of the university beg an in the context of the society's tran-
sition to democracy. The tradition of professorial and collegial control of the
university was in question as students and workers demanded more partici-
pation in decision-making. At the same time, the university was facing pres-
sure to integrate more Black students and staff in order to reflect the demo-
graphics of the region. The university reviewed its policies towards disad-
vantaged groups and established mechanisms to provide financial and aca-

my teaching career at various universities in politics and history. This was also the case
with other feminist colleagues at all South African universities.
200 Sheila Meintjes

demic support for Black students. This was accompanied by a "consultation"

of Senate members (all full professors) with staff and students about restruc-
turing. The process was doomed from the outset because of its lack of repre-
sentivity. Moreover, the process occurred within the context of a highly
charged and conflictual political terrain. Black students were particularly
angry that the discussions were exclusionary and, in their view, elitist. The
university set up a representative forum to try and find a consensual mecha-
nism to bring all constituencies into the transformation process. The ap-
pointment in 1994 of a Black academic as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor
William Makgoba, a respected epidemiologist who had spent seventeen years
in exile, did not assuage the students. In 1995, the university faced the revolt
of its Black students, who began to trash the campus, run amok in the class-
rooms, and call for a boycott of classes. Students who were not involved in
the protests were assaulted, as were a number of staff. The Vice Chancellor
was on leave at the time. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor June Sin-
clair, decided that she could not contain the students and called in the police.
This was the first time in its history that the University of the Witwatersrand
had done so, rupturing its reputation as a haven from social and political
pressures. This was followed somewhat later by astandoff between thirteen
senior academics and Professor William Makgoba, the Deputy Vice Chan-
cellor. The combination of these crises severely damaged the reputation of
the university. In this context, the women's struggle for equity was somewhat
side-lined, but some gains were made in terms of asserting principles of gen-
der equity and equality in the university amidst the bigger claims of race in
the transformation discourse that then emerged.
The university's goal in the transformation process was to reposition it-
self as an African university with an international standing. It has a good
scientific research reputation, including all the physical and natural sciences,
and has one of the leading medical schools in the country. The restructuring
has involved the amalgamation of faculties and the creation of new schools to
replace the old disciplinary divides. The humanities and education suffered
the most attrition in the process, losing more than fifty staff through re-
trenchment and early retirement. Most of these were women. Yet, these same
faculties have more Black students than any of the others. The restructuiing
has, however, seen a more even gender and race distribution of senior posts.
This is thanks to the new Equity Act, which insists that affirmative action for
designated groups - Blacks, women, and the disabled - be implemented. The
difficulty for universities is that opportunities for talented Black and women
intellectuals in the new state and in the economy have meant that renewal of
the academic profession has suffered. There have simply been too few
candidates for the few new positions that have emerged in the restructuring
process. Most of the positions anyway have been of an executive and
bureaucratic nature for which experience and skill are required. The conse-
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming for Gender Studies 201

quence is that most of the positions have gone to white rnen and only a few
women and black men.

Gender Activism Inside and Outside the University.

The transition to dernocracy in South Africa provided an opportunity for

feminist and gender activists to intervene in concrete ways in the new con-
stitutional dispensation. Feminist academics had for long been linked into the
broader political struggle against apartheid, belonging to women's organiza-
tions, youth, and civic movements that were part of the Uni ted Democratic
Front. Many had also been linked with the underground liberation movement.
During the negotiations period, they participated in developing the Women's
National Coalition (WNC) to push a Woman's Agenda in the constitutional
negotiations. Their participation in the legal and research groups of the WNC
provided significant intellectual and strategic direction in combination with
the political vision of the collectivity of activists from the grass roots level.
Their intervention ensured that the notion of substantive equality was embed-
ded in the constitution itself (Albertyn 1994).
At the University of the Witwatersrand, a gender research group in the
Center for Applied Legal Studies was established in 1992. Cathi Albertyn
was appointed as the first director. The work of this group and collaborative
projects with others, especially those in the Political Science Department,
provided research into a variety of subjects inc1uding the gendered nature of
oppression and violence under apartheid for the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, ongoing Amicus Briefs for constitutional court cases, and
evaluative and policy oriented. research that has assisted the Law Commission
. i:1 shaping legislation on key issues, such as in the areas of reproductive
rights, customary law, family law, parental rights, adoption, maintenance
issues, and domestic violence. Albertyn was appointed as one of the first
gender commissioners when the Commission for Gender Equality, a consti-
tutional body, was set up in 1997. In the second round after 2001, I was ap-
pointed for a five-year term of office to the same institution. The straddling
of academic and political activism has given South African feminists an op-
portunity to influence the direction and shape of gender policy in the country.
202 Sheila Meintjes

New Post-Graduate Training

The transition to democracy has also provided opportunities for the universi-
ties to pursue new intellectual and academic developments in the fields of
public administration and management studies that previously were the ter-
rain of Afrikaans universities only. This has gone hand in hand with the re-
structuring process in the university. This also coincides with a flurry of
international developments in the area of gender mainstreaming that became
the buzzword in gen der circles after the Women's Conference in Beijing in
1995. Thus, the restructuring process has been an opportunity to initiate ex-
citing new developments and opportunities - on a shoestring of course. One
of the outcomes of the change has been a shift towards graduate training with
the establishment of a new Graduate School for the Humanities and Social
Sciences and the introduction of a host of new interdisciplinary Master of
Arts programs. This new school provided the opportunity for gender studies
to emerge as a discrete program, involving for the first time interdisciplinary
co-operation between feminist academics on joint programs.
After nearly a year of discussion and planning, the first pilot interdisci-
plinary course was launched in 1999, along with the launch of the second
Gender Studies Seminar Series. This seminar is co-ordinated by the lecturers
in the pro gram and is an attempt to revive debate about feminist and gender
issues in South Africa. It provides a forum for debate around gender issues
for intellectuals and gender activists both inside and outside the university. In
this, the pro gram has been relatively successful. The course curriculum began
with a broad base, touching on the major themes in women and gender
studies historically and theoretically. The fourteen-week course was sup-
posed to provide aspringboard into aselection of options offered in partici-
pating disciplines. Topics covered the history of feminist theory and the
women's movement in the North and in South Africa, the changing discourse
on sex and gender, language and representation, women and development,
and sexuality, including queer theory. In the second year, the degree, with
options, was offered in the faculty. One of the difficulties we experienced
was attracting qualified and interested students to take the course. We adver-
tised on Woman's Net, a web-site that posts information on nation-wide
activities, on the NGO network information base, and in the major newspa-
pers. One of our key difficulties was the fact that the graduate school had not
provided resources to the pro gram to develop its profile, and whilst the· uni-
versity provided a small grant to cover a co-ordinator, support for the new
program was inadequate. Moreover, for the staff teaching the course, the
activity was seen as an optional "add-on" to their normal workload in their
departments and not as an alternative. Commitment to developing the pro-
gram rested, in the end, upon the shoulders of one or two people.
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming for Gender Studies 203

Whilst lack of resources was one problem, another was the broad sweep
of the course. Its breadth did not provide a specific disciplinary training that
could count as such for any "vocational" direction. Unlike in the program
"Public Development and Management," for instance, where future public
servants received a thorough grounding in public administration and policy
development, the gen der core course was so broad as to amount to a mish-
mash. The original intention was somewhat lost on students who were look-
ing for vocational direction in a world that was increasingly looking for pro-
fessionally trained personnel. They could find this in such programs as
"Tourism Studies" or "Heritage Studies" or "Media and Journalism Studies."
Gender studies did not offer such a direction. Although we argued that it was
important in all the courses and cross cut all professions, the professional
femocrat was not yet a lived reality. We had difficulty in attracting students
and decided to review the rationale of our decision.
In our review at the end of 2000, we came to the conclusion that we
needed to address the professional needs of those involved in law, develop-
ment, and in policy-making and to focus on the development of professional
gender experts who could work in international NGOs, national NGOs, and
in government. This focus led to a complete reshaping of the course. It now
focuses much more c1early on global gen der issues through the prism of the
South African case. We explore debates on democracy, equality, citizenship,
law, the politics of women's organization, the impact of globalization on
gender relations and development,and gender and the state. The course is
very tightly framed and is taught by three, rather than seven, people. AI-
though we have still not been able to recruit large numbers of students, the
program has become the focus for feminist intellectual debate, and the ses-
sions are attended by Ph.D. students and visiting scholars. The course is
complemented by the Seminar Series, which covers a wider range of feminist
and gender concerns, inc1uding the pro gram of "Queer and Masculinity
~tudies." The seminar is very weIl attended, and we hope will prove to be the
launching pad for a new debate on gender issues in the university and more
In reflecting on the problems launching the program, I think there are a
number of issues that we need to address as gender and feminist scholars.
First, no one said the struggle would be easy or that it would ever be over.
The presence of women in politics and in the economy has made a difference,
with more than lip service paid to the representation and participation of
women. In parliament in South Africa, we have women ministers, deputy
ministers, and MPs. Many are feminists, and the legislative agenda and out-
come reflects the work that they have undertaken to improve the lot of
women - abortion, domestic violence, maintenance, and customary law have
been revised in women's favour. An Equity Act insists that previously disad-
vantaged groups have to be represented at all levels of public and private
institutions and businesses over a certain size. This means in universities too.
204 Sheila Meintjes

An equity office has been set up to monitor and evaluate the progress of "the
nurnbers game." But, it is happening very slowly in the context of restruc-
turing, which has seen mostly women lose their jobs. What is on paper does
not easily or necessarily get translated into practice.
A Gender Summit organized in August 2001 by the three arms of the
gender machinery in South Africa - the Office of the Status of Women,
which is based in the president's office; the parliamentary Joint Monitoring
Cornrnittee on the Quality of Life and Status of Wornen; and the Cornrnission
on Gender Equality - pointed not to the success of gender policy and
legislation but to the difficulties of changing the masculinist culture in South
Africa. Poverty, HIV/AIDS, and high levels of gen der based violence bedevil
the efforts of activists to irnprove the lot of women.
A second issue that is relevant to gen der scholars is that just as gen der
courses are corning onto the curricular, the context of resource poverty is
affecting us all. Resources in the university are scarce, and everything is
accounted for - inc1uding numbers of students and costs. There has been a
ruthless disregard for the academic coherence of the restructuring process
that has left rnany scholars aghast. The power of the senate has, through its
own decisions, let it be said, passed into the hands of a new "Senior Execu-
tive Team," which is the conduit of information and internal processes to the
council. The new restructured council, wh ich was the subject of bitter wran-
gling and debate a few years previously, is largely dominated by the new
Black leaders of industry, the city, and the regional government, whose elite
interests are reflected in accession to the cost-cutting exercise that has seen
rnisery for hundreds of workers as they lose jobs or take on new jobs in out-
sourced companies at half the pay. Permanent staff has benefited by receiving
irnproved ·levels of pay. A bitter pill for rnany, not least the worker and staff
representatives on the council who were roundly defeated in their struggle for
justice as weil as equity.
At the same time that gen der mainstreaming has becorne a buzz-word,
recognized as a means of ensuring gen der equity, and that women will get a
better deal in our educational (and other) institutions, the real issue of gender
power relations has not been solved. For all the will in the world, the gender
mainstreaming process of providing gender "check lists," gender equity tar-
gets, gender desks in ministries, international "best practice" codes of con-
duct and missions and visions, the real power remains very often in a hierar-
chical, masculinist space that restructuring has merely shifted but not trans-
forrned. In this scenario, gender becomes a technical fix that does not alter
the nature of gender power in any real way.
The Dilemmas of Gender Mainstreaming for Gender Studies 205


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Samiera ZaJar

Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address

the Impact of HIV/ AIDS on Women at Work and Girl
Leamers at Public Schools in South Africa?

Since the demise of apartheid in 1994, South Africa is undergoing rapid tran-
sition in all aspects and at every level of soeiety. The eommitment to aeeess,
redress and equity, non-raeism, non-sexism, ete. within the anti-Apartheid
movement, as evideneed in doeuments emerging from the National Edueation
Poliey Investigation (National Edueation Co-ordinating Committee, 1992,
1993) in the early 1990s, has been sustained through a plethora of policies
and legislation to aehieve equality in all see tors of the soeiety. The eommit-
ment to aehieve gender justiee also lies at the eore of this poliey framework.
However, this transition in South Afriea from apartheid to a tledgling
demoeraey is oeeurring within a erisis of catastrophie proportions. South
Afriea and the rest of sub-Saharan Afriea are at the epieentre of the
HIVIAIDS pandemie. In a survey eondueted by Statisties South Afriea in
1999, it was estimated that in a population of roughly 40 million people, 4.4
million people have been infeeted with HIVIAIDS. This study also estimated
that approximately 22.4% of women in the population are HIV-positive with
the highest rate of infeetion amongst girls between the ages of 15-25. These
statisties are reportedly drawn alm ost exelusively from publie seetor ante-
natal c1inics.
Therefore, despite the mammoth efforts that are being made to transform
this soeiety, these alarmingly high figures for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in
the population at large and amongst women and girl learners in partieular,
threaten to break down the very soeio-eeonomie fabrie of this new demoe-
racy. An inadequate response to HIV/AIDS may result in the breakdown of
the family strueture, a mass of AIDS orphans, and threats to the heaIth, wel-
fare and edueation systems and indeed the eeonomieally aetive see tor of the
This paper examines the key polieies, legislation, and programmes for
the management and infeetion eontrol of HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of
anti-diserimination towards HIV/AIDS vietims through a gender lens. The
National AIDS Plan launehed by the National AIDS Co-ordinating Commit-
tee of South Afriea in 1994, the Code 0/ Good Practice on Key Aspects 0/
HIVIAIDS and Employment promulgated by the Department of Labour
208 Samiera ZaJar

(2000), the National Policy on HIVIAIDS for Learners and Educators in

Public Schools, and Students and Educators in Further Education and
Training Institutions promulgated by the national Department of Education
(1999), and other relevant po1icies and legislation are reviewed with respect
to their sensitivity to women at work and girl learners at public schools. This
paper reviews the sensitivity in the HIV/AIDS policy framework to gender in
a society where the statistics for HIV/AIDS infection amongst women is
particularly high and where gender violence is endemie. The National Policy
on HIVIAIDS (Department of Education, 1999) and initiatives in the educa-
ti on system are reviewed in light of the recently released Human Rights
Watch Report entitled Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in
South Africa (Human Rights Watch, 2001).
In brief, this paper poses the following critical question: Is the legislative
and policy framework for the management and infection control of
HIV/AIDS sufficient for women in a transition al society with marked racial,
c1ass, and gender inequalities, gender stereotyping, endemie gender violence
and a culture of silence on HIV/AIDS?
Whilst it is acknowledged that HIV/AIDS is anational crisis affecting all
sectors of society and should be tackled as such, the links between the mas-
sive policy initiatives and their impact on women who are bearing the brunt
of HIV/AIDS in this society is unc1ear. The key HIV/AIDS policy and legis-
lation that attempt to empower women and girl learners, who seem to be'
sitting in the eye of the storm, are reviewed against the lived everyday expe-
riences and concerns of these women and girls. This paper alerts us to the
limitations in the policy and legislative framework and in the implementation
thereof without losing sight of the progressive changes, advances, and the
sheer enormity of the task of transformation after decades of apartheid. The
paper conc1udes by making suggestions on how the policy and legislative
framework to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS could be made more gen der

HIV/AIDS, Gender and Politics

The debac1e over the relationship between HIV and AIDS caused by Presi-
dent Thabo Mbeki; reports of thirty-five major pharmaceutical companies
capitulating in a court case against the South African government over legis-
lation to make available cheaper antiretroviral generies; the stoning to death
of AIDS activist Dudu DIamini over her disc10sure of her HIV positive status
in KwaZulu-Natal in 1999; and, more recently, the death of South Africa's
youngest AIDS activist, twelve year-old Xolani Nkosi Johnson, in lune 2001
have all made international headlines. All of these incidences lend credence
Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address 209

to the statement by Larry Kramer, a holoeaust survivor and an AIDS aetivist,

that says, "There is nothing at all about this whole AIDS mess that is not
This paper reviews in the main the "offieial" response to the HIV/AIDS
pandemie with respeet to women in partieular and attempts to alert us to the
limitations in the implementation without losing sight of the progressive
ehanges and advanees sinee 1994 and/or the sheer enormity of the task of
transformation after deeades of apartheid.
Sinee eoming to power in 1994, the new ANC-1ed government has pur-
sued a rights-based poliey and legislative agenda premised on anti-raeism,
anti-sexism, and other human rights enshrined in the new eonstitution. The
new government reaffirmed its eommitment to gender equality when it rati-
fied the United Nation's Conventionfor the Elimination of alt Forms of Dis-
crimination against Women (CEDA W) in 1995 and established the Gender
Commission in 1996 and Gender Desks within the provineial governments.
The eonstruetion of 638 new clinics sinee 1994 where pregnant women and
ehildren may reeeive free medieal eare is further evidenee of improvement.
However, these and other developmenta1 gains sinee 1994 are under threat
given the unpreeedented social and eeonomie eonsequenees of the unfo1ding
HIV/AIDS epidemie.
In many ways, South Afriea's eolonial past, like that of most other eolo-
nial soeieties, remains with us today. The poor, the vulnerable, the un-
sehooled, and the margina1ized, amongst whieh women feature prominently,
are bearing the burden of HIV/AIDS. Whilst infeetion by HIV/AIDS is af-
feeting all see tors of the population, it is clear from the statisties in South
Afriea that women and ehi1dren are more vulnerable to HIV/ AIDS beeause of
biologieal, epidemiologieal, and social reasons. It is also very evident that
women and ehi1dren are bearing the brunt of the disease beeause of the gross
gender inequity that pervades South Afriean soeiety.

HIV/AIDS Statistics for Women in South Africa

The overall rate of infeetion is estimated to be approximately four million

HIV positive people or one in four adult South Afrieans, with the highest
prevalenee amongst the youngest and most eeonomieally produetive seetors
of the population. At the King Edward Hospital, a major provineial hospital
in KwaZulu-Nata1, the provinee worst hit by the epidemie, 53 % of the pa-
tients tested were reported HIV positive. Eighty pereent of these patients
were girls in their twenties (Sowetan, June 2000). It is also estimated that
approximately 22.4% of women in the population are HIV positive, with a
very high rate of infeetion amongst girls between the ages of fifteen and
210 Sarniera ZaJar

twenty-five. (These statistics are reported to be drawn almost exc1usively

from public sector antenatal c1inics). Further figures for the rate of infection
amongst women in the period 1991 to 1994 (disaggregated according to race
groups) have been extracted from areport by Budlender (Budlender, 1994).
This research illustrates that the rate of infection amongst African women has
increased faster than for any other race group.

HIV/ AIDS and Gender Inequity

It is imperative to interrogate the reasons for these alarmingly high statistics

for infection within the population at large and women in particular. Women
in South Africa fall into the high-risk category due to a complex matrix of
factors. Some of the key factors are considered below:

Wamen and Wark

As in the rest of the world, women in South Africa have a lower average
income in comparison to men. This is as a result of women being concen-
trated in certain jobs in certain sec tors of the economy. The 'Country Report
on the Status of South African Wornen' (1994) to the Beijing Conference in
1995 indicated that approximately 75% of African women who are employed
earned less than R 1000-R 1500 a month. These are women who work pre-
dominantly as full-time or part-time domestic workers, a tradition of ex-
ploitative employment of women in South Africa that persists despite the
progressive legislation in this regard. Therefore, the jobs that these women do
in comparison to their male counterparts are less weil paid, less secure, and
with fewer benefits.
Another factor that is unique to South Africa with respect to the em-
ployment of women originates from the draconian Group Areas Act (1966)
under apartheid. This legislation designated geographical areas within which
different racial groups could live and work. As such, this legislation prohib-
ited Black women from seeking formal employment in certain towns and
cities, which were also the economic hub of apartheid society. As a result,
these women have shorter work histories, poor training, and fewer market-
able skills.
Overall, the jobs that the majority of women do in comparison to their
male counterparts are less weil paid, less secure, and with fewer benefits.
These inequities in employment and wages, many of which are the legacy of
apartheid, make these women economically dependent on men. It makes
Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address 211

them susceptible to gender violence and also decreases their power to request
safe sexual practices from their partners.

Warnen and Paverty

The Country Report on the Status of South African Women (1994) to the
Beijing Conference also indicates that experiences of extreme poverty remain
concentrated amongst African people. The report shows that in 1998, 57.2%
of the population fell below the poverty line and that African women
constitute 40% of this group. Yet, the health and welfare provision for this
sector of the population remains completely inadequate. Despite the massive
efforts to provide primary health care since 1994, health and welfare
provisions remain totally inadequate in the townships, the backlogs are
enormous, and the number of clinics in townships and in rural areas remains
insufficient to cater to the demand for basic health services. The lack of ac-
cess to clinics for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases increases the
risk of developing full-blown AIDS amongst this sec tor of the population. In
addition, the poor health and living conditions that generally characterise
these women's lives also increases their vulnerability to opportunistic dis-
eases associated with HIV/AIDS. The lack of affordable milk substitutes for
HIV positive mothers of newborn babies and infants also increases the risk of
mother-to-child transmission. Yet, there was much controversy and hesitation
by the state to sanction the administration of Nevirapine to pregnant mothers
to decrease the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. The Minister of
Health, in this instance, was mired in a media spectacle, although it was indi-
cated by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a national organisation of
AIDS activists, that, in fact, only 1% of the state's total health budget can
prevent 11,500 new HIV infections per annum through mother- to-child

Gender Vialence Against Warnen and Girl Learners

Women and young girls are the targets of gender violence in the form of
sexual abuse and rape, wh ich are at alarmingly high levels and endemic in the
society. Hospital records nationally show that women, particularly African
women, bear the brunt of the violence. There are at least 50, 000 rapes re-
ported each year and many more unreported cases, given the fear of victimi-
sation and stigmatisation by victims of rape. The Sowetan (June 2000) re-
ported findings from a shelter for abused women that 75% of pupils from six
schools in Soweto (a sprawling township in the Gauteng province that was
zoned for Africans under apartheid) had a direct experience of a rape and that
40% of these cases were unreported. The recently released Human Rights
212 Samiera ZaJar
Wateh Report entitled Scared at School: Gender Violence Against Girls in
South Africa (2001) eorroborated the high ineidenees of sexual abuse and
rape of girl learners and pointed out that in the majority of instanees, the
perpetrators are male learners and male edueators.

Dominant Definitions 0/ Masculinity

Another major eontributing faetor to women having to bear the brunt of

HIV/AIDS are the dominant forrns of rnaseulinity that eharaeterise South
Afriean soeiety, whieh are the produets of apartheid, raeism, ethnieity, and
poverty. In a study by Campbell (2001) entitIed 'Going Underground and
Going After Women: Masculinity and HIV Transmission Amongst Black
Workers on the Gold Mine', she concludes that Black mineworkers' social
and sexual identities are forged in response to the life challenges of the min-
ing eontext in a manner that makes them particularly vulnerable to being
infected and to spreading HIV/AIDS.
The above-mentioned factors clearly indicate that at the intersection of
race, social class, gen der, sexuality, and poverty, the effects of HIV/AIDS are
compounded and that rural, African wornen, for a range of soeio-economic
reasons, are overwhelmingly the primary targets of the disease. More perti-
nently, it must be pointed out that this high rate of infeetion amongst women
is fuelled by the failure in the implementation of the well-intentioned macro
policies to address gender disparities in the work place, within the domestic
environment, within sehooling, and within the society as a whole. It is, there-
fore, important to contrast the lived experiences of women in this society, as
explained above, against the policy and legislative agenda that addresses
gender inequity and the HIV/AIDS policy.

Post-1994 Policy and Legislative Framework

There have been twin imperatives that have chartered the transformative
policy and legislative framework since 1994. On the one hand, the transfor-
mative principles of aecess, redress, and equity have underpinned the legisla-
tion. However, there is also the rationale under globalisation imperatives and
in order to remain "internationally competitive" to pursue a market-oriented
macro-economic framework. The Growth Employment and Redistribution
Strategy (1991) (GEAR), South Africa's own "home-grown" structural ad-
justment policy, is the centrepiece of the new government' s maero-economic
framework. The primary feature of this economic policy is the drive to create
a favourable environment for market-Ied growth. GEAR intended to encour-
Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address 213

age private sector investment on the back of which, it was hoped, would be
major public sector development. Thus, it was projected that GEAR would
stimulate growth and create jobs, which would in turn address the residual
racial, gender, and social inequities as a result of apartheid. A range of fiscal
austerity measures was introduced in a determined effort to drive the budget
deficit down to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product by the year 2000. In real
terms, this curbed domestic spending on essential social services like health,
welfare, and education. In the case of the health sec tor, the resultant private
sector encroachment on essential health services has created deep divisions.
The health sector is polarised into an over-burdened public health system
collapsing from the effect of HIV/AIDS and private market-driven medical
schemes. GEAR has failed dismally to deli ver overall. What has happened is
that job-less growth has occurred in the period 1994-1996 with 4.2 million
people becoming unemployed in this period.
The implementation of the national HIV/AIDS policy and legislation,
too, has to operate within the above macro-economic framework and fiscal
constraint, which has greatly limited its impact. An overview of the
HIV/AIDS national policy, i.e. the National AIDS Plan launched in 1994 and
located in the office of the Deputy President (NACOSA, 1994), the Code of
Good Practice for HIVIAIDS and Employment (Department of Labour,
2000), and the National Policy on HIVIAIDS by the Department of Education
(1999) amongst other policies, indicates that the main thrust of the
HIV/ AIDS policy seems to be focused on information dissemination, pre-
vention, and treatment. There is also a great deal of consistency across these
policies on human rights, and issues of confidentiality for and non-discrimi-
nation of HIV/AIDS sufferers. The implementation of these policies has
given rise to AIDS Training and Information Counselling Centres (A TICS)
being established by provincial governments. This "official" response to
HIV/AIDS has been supported by a range of non-government organisations
that are active in combating the disease and that have launched campaigns to
advocate for the rights of HIV/AIDS sufferers. University based HIV/AIDS
policy and research units, e.g. the AIDS Law Project at the University of
Witwatersrand and the Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of
Pretoria, are yet further examples of institutions that have joined the fight to
combat the disease.
But, if we juxtapose the "official" response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic
against the rate at which the disease is spreading then perhaps we may con-
c1ude that the most dramatic failure of post-apartheid social management in
South Africa has occurred on this front. The un-preparedness of the South
African government in the face of this deadly disease is all too apparent in its
delay in promulgating legislation and launching national campaigns for the
prevention of infection by HIV/AIDS and for the treatment of HIV/AIDS
sufferers. The official response only seems to have gathered momentum
around 1998. As with other policies in this transition period, the HIV/AIDS
214 Samiera ZaJar

issue has also been characterised by bureaucratic bungles. It has been re-
ported that the national health system has failed to spend 40% of the
199912000 HIV/AIDS budget for prevention, counselling, and care. And,
funding for HIV/AIDS service organisations was cut by 43% for 2001.

Response of the Department of Education

The Department of Education has launched its National Policy on

HIV/AIDS, for Learners and Educators in Public Schools, and Students and
Educators in Further Education and Training Institutions (1999). Within this
policy, the Department of Education has provided emergency guidelines for
educators to respond to injuries, etc. on the sports field and within schools in
order to prevent further HIV/AIDS infections. The principle of non-discrimi-
nation against HIV positive learners and educators has been put forward quite
strongly. What is also enlightening in the policy and guidelines emanating
from the national Department of Education is the principle that HIV-positive
and HIV/AIDS learners with full-blown AIDS also need to be protected from
ailments of other learners that may exacerbate their condition.
A programme for HIV/AIDS has been prioritised within the Implemen-
tation Plan for Tirisano: January 2000-December 2004 (Department of Edu-
cation, 2000). This is the Department of Education's strategic plan of action
for education in the period 2000-2004. Contained within this programme is a
strategic objective that is focused on promoting gen der equity, i.e. the pro-
motion of ·respect for girl learners through gender sensitivity workshops.
There are several other related programmes outlined in the Tirisano docu-
ment. These are to develop and disseminate relevant literature on HIV/AIDS,
to train a core of educators to facilitate education of life skills, and to ensure
HIV/AIDS is incorporated into all the Learning Areas in the new Curriculum
2005. Another key objective is to develop planning models to monitor the
impact of HIV/AIDS on the education and training system. The degree of
implementation of these programmes across the provinces is at present un-
c1ear. But, the policy overload in education, the lack of capacity of the pro-
vincial education departments, and the lack of resources for the bare essen-
tials for schooling may compromise the delivery of these HIV/AIDS pro-
grammes within schooling. More importantly, stricter measures have to be
applied against educators and male learners who are responsible for abusing
girllearners in order for the policy to be meaningful.
Does the Policy and Legislative Framework Address 215

Challenges for the Way Forward

The existing social condition of the overwhelming majority and the limited
progress in extending their socio-economic rights enshrined in the new con-
stitution exacerbate the inequity and increasing poverty in South Africa and
lie at the heart of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There are several chaIlenges to
curbing the effects of HIV/AIDS:

There is the pressing need to link HIV/AIDS policy to poverty in every

sector of society. Government policy in housing, welfare, and job crea-
tion cumulatively increases the sufferings of HIV/AIDS victims. There-
fore, there is the need for an integrated response, fast-tracked across aII
sectors with cIearly outlined "implementables" and cIear "deliverables."
There is the need to identify the impact of HIV/AIDS on every social
sec tor, e.g. its impact on women more generaIly, in the economic sectors
within which women are currently concentrated. Thebroader objective
of gender justice should be achieved by targeting women, and African
women in particular, and to broaden their socio-economic rights in wel-
fare and training through job-creation and smaII business development.

The chaIlenges to the education system are even more urgent as schooling
lies at the forefront with respect to spreading life-saving information to learn-
ers at an early age.

Schools should be supported by the national and provincial education

departments to implement vigorous programmes aimed at gender justice
and non-sexism in aII aspects of schooling. Life skiIIs education at pri-
mary schoollevel and sex education for fern ale and male learners at sec-
ondary school level is essential.
A core of educators (that are voluntarily assuming counselIing roles
given the extent of the epidemic and gender violence at schools) should
be isolated and provided with the requisite training to act as counseIIors
to male and female learners.
The official school curriculum, i.e. Curriculum 2005, is being revised so
that aIl Learning Areas incorporate a dedicated focus on anti-discrimina-
tion, HIV/AIDS education, and non-sexism throughout the schooling
216 Samiera ZaJar


To date, political representivity has made minimal change to the quality of

life for women in South Africa. These women labour under a tri pie oppres-
sion of race, dass, and gender that has cumulatively positioned women and
young girls to bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS pandemie despite the massive
policy and legislative efforts at transformation and the promotion of gender
Gender inequity is one of the determining factors that increase the vul-
nerability of women, young girls, and children to HIV/AIDS. Gender ineq-
uity needs to be challenged in all sectors of society, and within education and
schooling in particular, to contribute to gender justice in South African soci-
ety and to combat the spread of HIVI AIDS amongst women, young girls, and
all sec tors of South African society. This, however, cannot be done without
first addressing certain fundamental socio-economic rights of women and,
indeed, all of the people of South Africa.


Budlender, Debbie: Miero-Enterprises and Gender. Community Agency for Sodal

Enquiry, Study for European Economic Community, 1994.
Country Report on the Status of South African Women to the Beijing Conference in
Campbell, C.: Going Underground and Going after Women. Masculinity and HIV
Transmission amongst Black Workers on the Gold Mine. In: Morrell, R. (Ed.):
Changing Men in SouthemAfrica. London: Zed Books, 2001
Human Rights Watch: Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in South
Africa, 2001
Manchester, J.: The HIV epidemie in South Africa in South Africa: personal views of
positive people. Dissertation: Master in Education: University of London! Insti-
tute of Education (unpub!.)
May, J.: Poverty and Inequity in South Africa: Meeting the Challenges. London: Zed
Marais, H.: South Africa limits to change the politieal economy of transition. London
Zed Books, 2001
National AIDS Co-ordinating Committee of South Africa (NACOSA): South Africa
Uni ted against AIDS: a National AIDS Plan for South Afriea, 1994
National Education Co-ordinating Committee: NEPI: The Framework Report. Cape
Town: Oxford University Press/NECC, 1992
Sowetan,5 March, 1999, Violence against Girl Leamers.
Sowetan, 6 June, 2000, HIV/AIDS Statisties
Samuel, S.: Achieving Equality - How far have women come? Agenda No. 47 (2001)
Does the Poliey and Legislative Framework Address 217

United Nations: Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination

against Women (CEDAW). New York 1979
Vally, S./ Zafar, S.: Racism and Education. Concept Paper delivered at the launch of
the South African Human Rights Commission Forum for Anti-Racism in Educa-
tion and Training, Robben Island, October 2000
Vally, S.: Teachers in South Africa: Between Fiscal Austerity and "Getting Learning
Right". In: Quarterly Review of Education and Training in South Africa, Vol 6.
(1999) 2. Education Policy Unit, University of the Witwatersrand.
Vally, S./ Dalamba, Y.: Racism, "racial integration" and desegregation in South Afri-
can public secondary schools: areport on a study by the South African Human
Rights Commission (SAHRC). Johannesburg: SAHRC, 1999
Wood, K. Jewkes R.: Dangerous Love: Reflections on Violen ce among Xhosa Town-
ship Youth. In: Morrell, R. (Ed.): Changing Men in Southem Africa. London:
Zed Books, 2001


Department of Labour. 2000. Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of HIV / AIDS
and Employment -
Department of Education. 1999. National Policy on HIV/ AIDS, for Learners and
Educators in Public Schools, and Students and Educators in Further Education
and Training Institutions
Department of Education. 1999. National Policy on HIV/AIDS, for Leamers and
Educators in Public Schools, and Students and Educators in Further Education
and Training Institutions Emergency Guidelines for Educators
Department of Education. 2000. 'Tirisano Programme 1 for HIV/AIDS'
Department of Education. 1998. Curriculum 2005
Human Rights Watch. 200l. Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in
South Africa.
Statistics South Africa Website.
Anne Phillips

Which Equalities Matter? Or Even:

Does Equality Matter?

In an essay written in 1990, MicheIe Barrett talked of a "turn towards

culture" in feminist theory and gen der studies (Barrett 1990: 22-4).1 She
identified two related shifts, both of which, I suspect, will be familiar to all of
us from our different national experiences. The first was a shift in the objects
of feminist analysis, away from the kinds of issues associated with the social
sciences (patterns of labour market discrimination, for example, or the social
construction of masculinity and femininity through the school curriculum)
and towards the arts, humanities, and philosophy. The second was a shift in
the forms of analysis, so that even those still working within a recognizably
social science context became increasingly preoccupied with issues of
subjectivity, discourse, or the representations of the self.
There are many ways to understand this movement, and some at least of
the explanations can be seen as internal to the field of feminist politics and
gender studies. One example of an internal debate that helped shift gen der
studies in the direction of more cultural and symbolic analysis is the chal-
lenge that came from Black feminist writing through the later 1970s and
1980s. Ironically, perhaps, what began as a way of challenging the narrow
focus on sex and class as the twin axes of inequality ended up querying the
very focus on social structure, for as feminists struggled to broaden their
analysis to address the tri pIe oppressions of sex, race, and class, they turned
increasingly to symbolic representations as the best way to get at the resulting
complexities. The other most obvious example is the reworking of the
sexlgender distinction that has been so central to feminist theory over the last
decade. This distinction was originally viewed as a relatively straightforward
contrast between biological sex and socially constructed gender, and thereby
helped focus gender research on those processes of social construction. Sub-
sequent revisitations (partly under the influence of Foucault's work) queried
the "obviousness" of sexual difference and came to view the sex/gender dis-

See also "Words and Things," Barrett and Phillips (1992).

220 Anne Phi/Ups
tinction more critically as something that was itself a discursive - and poten-
tially oppressive - distinction. 2
As this suggests, some of the developments in the field of gender studies
have arisen from within the field, through the reworking of what later came
to be seen as unsatisfactory tools of analysis, and/or in response to internal
political debate. But it has become increasingly obvious that the so-called
"turn towards culture" is not peculiar to feminism, but resonates with a larger
movement that has been characterised (by Nancy Fraser among others) as a
movement from redistribution to recognition. 3 The first - what Fraser calls
the politics of redistribution - was heavily influenced by a socialist or social
democratic tradition that stressed the underlying inequalities in social and
economic life and looked to aredistribution - an equalisation - of economic
and social power as the main task for radical social change. The second fo-
cu ses more on issues of cultural domination - the marginalization or deni-
gration of groups because of their gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or relig-
ion. It talks less about the economic inequalities that might underpin this
domination and more about the ways in which people are marginalized, dis-
paraged or despised because of some characteristic that marks them as differ-
ent from other groups.
The shift suggested in this is not all negative, for part of what has hap-
pened is that an earlier - almost exc1usive - preoccupation with inequalities
in social and economic structure has been enhanced by a more rigorous
understanding of the forms of cultural domination to which many individuals
and groups are subjected. In my view, feminist work deserves a great deal of
the credit for this, for it has contributed to a deeper understanding of
oppression as something that works through the very categories through
which we organise our lives, as weIl as through the more obvious sources like
exploitative employers and violent husbands. But I also feel, with many
others, that the enhancement now threatens to become displacement and that
too few now address the starker inequalities on which radical thinking and
politics used to be based.
It used to be a pretty standard position among radical democrats, for ex-
ample, to say that democracies would be unable to deli ver on their promise of
political equality unless they embarked on major modifications in the market
economy and a significant equalisation in economic life. Formal equalities
would remain largely "formal" unless sustained by "real' inequalities in
social and economic relations. Nowadays, by contrast, democrats are much
more likely to bracket the economic questions and focus on political
arrangements instead. And as with the shift toward recognising the nature and
significance of cultural domination, this is by no means all bad: it means we
address far more seriously than before the under-representation of women in

2 See 'Introduction' to Barrett and Phillips (1992).

3 See essays Fraser (1997).
Which Equalities Matter? 221
politics; it means we discuss more seriously and imaginatively what equal
citizenship ought to involve in countries that are multi-ethnic and multi-
cultural; it means we are more likely to challenge the paternalism of state
authorities and to explore ways of enabling citizens to become more active
and engaged. What can be done to deepen and extend the practices of
democracy is very much on the agenda. But the idea that any of this depends
on economic equality barely gets a look in today.
My sense of the current state of debate in gender studies is that no-one
defends this kind of displacement; more commonly, perhaps, people chal-
lenge what they see as a false opposition between economic and cultural
concerns, This was the main burden of Judith Butler's essay on "Merely
Cultural," (Butler 1997) which was written partly in response to Nancy
Fraser's analysis ofthe retreat from redistributive concerns. Butler at no point
suggests that we should stop worrying about the inequalities associated with
market societies, but she takes issue with the idea that criticising and
transforming the ways in which sexuality is socially regulated (one of the
main preoccupations of her own work) might be understood as "merely
cultural." Those challenging the norms of heterosexuality, for example,
shouldn't be seen as engaged just in a politics of recognition. "This is not
simply a question of certain people suffering a lack of cultural recognition by
others but, rather, is a specific mode of sexual production and exchange that
works to maintain the stability of gender, the heterosexuality of desire, and
the naturalization of the family." (Butler 1997: 274)
As a number of people have pointed out, the argument is oddly function-
alist, suggesting as it does that capitalism needs a particular sexual order and
that because of this, any challenge to the sexual order is itself achallenge to
existing economic relations. (Nancy Fraser (1997: 285-6) describes this as
resurrecting the worst aspects of 1970s Marxist and socialist feminism: "the
overtotalized view of capitalist society as a monolithic ,system' of inter-
locking structures of oppression that seamlessly reinforce one another.") A
more generous reading, perhaps, is that Butler is seeking to redefine the
understanding of the economic in ways that would question and rethink its
separation from the cultural: this is certainly what she suggests in her
contribution to Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary
Dialogues on the LeJt, where she warns against simply "plugging in" the
economic, and asks "what happens to the notion of equality when it becomes
economic equality?" (Butler et al. 2000: 277) It's a good question, and I take
it that we wouldn't support an understanding of economic inequality that
operated entirely through statistics on the distribution of income and wealth
and paid no attention to processes of cultural domination. But I take it, also,
that we wouldn't want gender studies to end up entirely detached from the
issues of low pay, unequal pay, or employment security that were more
central in earlier debates.
222 Anne Phi/fips

What is striking to me is that no one seems to want or to defend a dis-

placement of those more "bread-and-butter" issues: no one, to my
knowledge, goes around saying that we have now resolved the more obvious
economic inequalities and should therefore concentrate on other issues; and
no one goes around saying that poverty or unemployment or poor housing
have nothing to do with gen der. The dec1ared wish, it seems, is to be able to
press forward on both fronts, to continue with exposing and challenging the
economic power relations that regulate women's lives, but to do this in a way
that takes up and develops those areas of symbolic and cultural analysis that
have been less fully explored in the previous literature. This is the dec1ared
wish, and yet the combination seems to elude uso W ork in gender studies
seems to operate in parallel but barely connecting worlds.
I want here to suggest two possible reasons for this - both of them inter-
nal to feminist debate. The first relates to the way we have problematized the
notion of gender equality - querying, for example, notions of equality as
sameness - and the sometimes unforeseen consequences of this in querying
any notion of convergence. The second relates to the way we have problema-
tized the notion of women and gender - querying the binary divide, for exam-
pIe, that would give us men and women as two distinct groups - and the
difficulties of talking of any kind of equality if you can no longer refer to
distinct and unequal groups. It's in relation to this last point that I have re-
phrased my title as not just which equalities matter (so is it economic equali-
ties, political equalities, cultural equalities?), but even more fundamentally,
does equality matter? Many of us turned to the field of gender studies be-
cause of a burning sense of the inequalities that continued to characterise
relations between women and men. But it's not so easy to talk of inequality
when you do not have that reference point; when you cannot point to group A
as in a subordinate position in relation to group B. Inequality becomes harder
to identify; and equality harder to define; and it's no accident that neither of
these terms is particularly prominent in current work. Two major arguments
need to be considered:
1) Over the last fifteen years, there has been an extensive - and in my
view very important - critique of gender-neutrality. It has become apparent to
us that patterns of domination and exc1usion can continue to characterise the
relationship between the sexes, even as democracies around the world dis-
mantle the remaining vestiges of overt discrimination against women.
Though there remain many areas of overt discrimination - countries where
women are not allowed to vote or drive cars, where they can't inherit land on
the same basis as men, where they don't have the same rights to education,
employment, divorce - for most of us here today, the problem is no longer
overt discrimination. Modem democracies usually proc1aim their indifference
to difference; they promise to treat everyone the same regardless of their sex
or race; they offer gender-neutrality as their route to equality.
Which Equalities Matter? 223

In a rich and compelling literature on this, feminists have criticised this

gender-neutrality, arguing that it is a false neutrality when it fails to address
the substantive differences between the sexes in earning power or household
responsibilities or social valuations of their worth. If courts operated a gen-
der-neutral approach to custody decisions, for example, they would almost
always award custody to fathers, for fathers typically earn more and can offer
more financial security to their children than mothers. If employers operated
a gender-neutral approach to employment rights, they could then refuse to
provide pregnancy-related maternity leave (since this is only ever taken by
women); since women currently take more time off work than men to care
for sick children, employers might even be able to justify refusing to employ
women on seemingly neutral, non-discriminatory grounds. Similarly, if po-
litical parties operate a gender-neutral approach to the selection of candidates
- insisting that gender should be irrelevant, and they'll just select the best of
those who come forward - they will almost certainly end up with a large
imbalance between women and men. This is not because men are "better,"
but that for obvious reasons (including the fact that women continue to carry
the main responsibilities for childcare) fewer women than men will normally
put themselves forward. It is clear from comparative analysis that the only
contexts in which men and women approach an equality in representation are
those where gender is admitted as a salient characteristic and measures are
put in place to ensure a greater equity.
Through such arguments, feminists have queried gender-blind ap-
proaches to equality, and many have argued that equality between the sexes
depends on a prior recognition of difference. These arguments have been
mirrored in related critiques of "race-blind" or "ethnicity-blind" models of
equality, where the implied association between equality and assimilation is
also under attack. Treating people as if they are already the same - ignoring,
that is, their gender, ethnicity, or race - usually has the effect of reinforcing
existing inequalities. Treating people as if they ought to become the same can
also be a problem, for it can mean that women are expected to conform to
"masculine" models of employment or politics and can help reinforce the
dominance of ethnic majority groups.
I don't myself see these arguments as querying the goal of equality, more
as nuancing and redefining the circumstances through which equality can be
achieved, but it may be that the challenge they present to conventional under-
standings of equality has so much complicated the arena that people now feel
less willing to talk of equality at all. I have noticed, for example, that what I
would describe as "strict equality" - a notion that what we are aiming for is a
world in which there would be no differentiation between the sexes in the
kinds of jobs they do, the kinds of caring responsibilities they assurne, or the
nature and extent of their political engagement - is much less canvassed in
contemporary discussion. I myself am still inspired by that understanding of
equality, and see the critique of gender-neutrality very much as part of the
224 Anne Phillips

process of achieving that goal, but I find myself in more of a rninority than
used to be the case when I argue for "strict equality."
It' s as if the challenge to equality as sameness opens up a Pandora' s box
of difference, so that we move too rapidly from the notion that differences
have to be recognised in developing our strategies for equality (which I
always think is true) to the notion that differences have to be validated
(which I sometimes think is true) to the notion that convergence between
different groups is an undesirable goal. I view this partly as a category
mistake: people mistaking the critique of assimilation (a one-way process of
convergence in which group A has to remake itself in the image of more
powerful group B) for a wider critique of convergence (which I take to be an
erninently desirable goal). Just to illustrate from employment issues, I
certainly think we should criticise the notion that women will achieve
employment equality by mimicking a "masculine" model of employment that
requires men to work their longest hours when they have young children and
allows no possibility for balancing one's work responsibilities with one's
responsibilities for care. But I would counter this with a model of
convergence, arguing that men and women alike should be able to adjust
their working hours and patterns to meet their (shared) responsibilities for
care, and that both male and female patterns of employment should change.
Part of what is at issue here is that some differences are compatible with
equality while other are not so. We shouldn't, for example, presume that all
citizens have to adopt the same cultural or religious practices in order to
qualify for equal treatment, nor that everyone has to live in the same kind of
family in order to qualify for state benefits, nor that everyone has to conform
to heterosexual norms. The critique of equality as sameness does not, how-
ever, imply that any difference is compatible with equality. The prospects for
sexual equality depend, in my view, on a substantial process of convergence
in the li fe experiences of women and men, and past differences are too much
overlaid with hierarchies for us to feel much confidence in a world where the
sexes perform different but somehow equally valued roles. A society in
which women dorninate the caring professions while men run the economy is
unlikely to generate that profound sense of equal worth that is necessary for a
society of equals. In similar vein, a society where Black people excel in ath-
letics and White people in managing the banks is unlikely to do the trick. In
cases where there has been a strong historical association between difference
and inferiority, the persistent segregation of occupations and roles makes it
hard to sustain convictions of equal worth, and the difference becomes
incompatible with equality.
The critique of equality as sameness does not therefore mean we should
give up on ideas of convergence, but it has perhaps muddied the waters
around equality and helped push it further down the political agenda. My
own view - which I hope has emerged relatively c1early from my comments
so far - is that this need not be the outcome. I don't think we can afford to
Wh ich Equalities Matter? 225
back away from the critiques of equality as sameness, but we can and should
pursue these with a clearer understanding that there are some differences that
are indeed incompatible with equality. We shouldn't, that is, be contributing
to a mindset that tolerates economic inequalities (as if these are just
reasonable "differences"); and we should be able to develop our critiques of
gender-neutrality or of assimilationist models of equality without thereby
reinforcing the current retreat from egalitarian concerns.
2) The second point draws on lengthy debates over the category of
"women," where a number of key arguments have emerged. One of these is
that prioritising gender as the central axis of difference turns other differ-
ences by ethnicity, class, or sexuality into just complicating additions - the
extra nuances we put on to a more basic male/female divide. As Elizabeth
Spelman argues, this often results in a notion of the representative (normal)
woman who turns out to be White, heterosexual, and middle class, the
woman without complications, who is then implicitly contrasted to those
other (less normal) women who are marked by differences of ethnicity, sexu-
ality, or class (Spelman 1988). The related problem (raised by Judith Butler
(1990) among others) is that taking menlwomen as the key social divide
presumes a norm of the heterosexual couple. It is not therefore just a simple
description, but one that works to suppress both ambiguities and possibilities
in heterosexual, homo sexual and bisexual practice, and in the process helps
reinforce heterosexual norms. In both arguments, "women" becomes a deeply
suspect category. It is not just problematic, in the ways we would all
recognise, because it is so difficult to generalise across women. More than
this, it is a category that has very worrying political effects.
Though I have my doubts about the way the second argument then seems
to privilege sexuality, both arguments raise important concerns. The implica-
tion of the first is that we need to make our equality claims in a far more
contextual way, so not just as a comparison between "essential woman" and
"essential man," but in comparisons between men and women who share the
same ethnic or class location. This may or may not be the best way forward
but is entirely compatible with egalitarian aims. The implication of the sec-
ond, however, is that we simply cannot come up with the appropriate binary
groups through which to measure inequalities - or rather, that when we do,
we participate in a normative discourse that is itself oppressive, constructing
certain people as normal and either ignoring the others or constructing them
as deviating from the norms. Instead, then, of participating in this
normalisation of the categories of "women" and "men," feminists should
engage in a more open-ended discourse that can recognise the fluidity of
identities and challenge the power of categorial norms.
. The problem this presents to egalitarian discourse is that it deprives us of
the capacity to name the groups who are positioned as unequais. Inequality is
a relational concept: it involves saying that individual or group X is being
treated unequally as compared to individual or group Y. It loses much of its
226 Anne Phi/fips

purchase if we can no Ionger give any meaning to the group categories. We

can certainly continue to talk of contesting power - whether this be the power
of institutions or the power of the market or the power of dominant dis-
courses - but the idea that equality might be the goal becomes far more
problematic. Equality of whom with what? It' s interesting in this context to
consider Judith ButIer's critique of the claims that have been made in a num-
ber of countries by lesbian and gay activists to have the right to form same-
sex marriages, with aIl the attendant privileges (transferable pension rights,
shared custody of children, etc) that are usuaIly reserved for heterosexual
couples. There are many arguments one might make against this strategy (and
many lesbian and gay activists have queried whether campaigning for the
right to get married should be a central concern), but Butler's main objection
is that it forecloses possibilities for sexual freedom (Butler et al. 2000). As I
understand it, the problem she identifies is that describing homosexuals as a
group who are entitled to the same rights as heterosexualsimposes yet
another kind of closure on people. It may equalise treatment between these
two "groups," but it does so at the expense of fixing the boundaries between
them, forcing people into yet another kind of category that then limits their
capacity for self-definition.
What I am suggesting here is that the declining salience of the language
of equality within contemporary gender studies - and related to this, the de-
clining emphasis on research that has explicit policy goals -is partly linked
to the deconstruction of gender identities that has made it so much more diffi-
cult to talk of women as a distinct group. When the problem we face is rede-
fined as the need to chaIlenge the discursive power of heteronormativity, and
in doing so, to chaIlenge the power of gender categories over our lives, this
threatens to deprive us of the language we need to contest inequalities. With-
out the categories through which to make the comparison, we may find our-
selves unable to speak of inequalities and unable to formulate equality (be-
tween whom?) as the compeIIing goal.
If this is indeed one of the directions in which gender studies is moving, I
find it deeply disturbing - and particularly so when it resonates with what has
been a world-wide retreat from economic equality. Global inequalities seem
to be increasing as rapidly as globalisation; while within most countries, there
is depressing evidence of a growing gap between rich and poor. In my own
country, there is no Ionger a major political party prepared to address this
widening gap, and poverty has supplanted inequality as the only redistribu-
tive issue that the Labour Party is now prepared to tackle. There is a praise-
worthy commitment to eradicating child poverty (though considering the
scandalous scale of child poverty in Britain, this can hardly be described as a
measure of great radicalism), but there is no commitment at aII to reducing
inequality. Work in gender studies used to be exemplary in exposing not only
the poverty that so many women have suffered, but also the continuing ine-
qualities - economic, political, legal, cultural - that have marked their lives. I
Which Equalities Matter? 227
would like to think that we can continue to function as a powerful voice both
for sexual equality and for wider egalitarian concems but am uncomfortably
aware that equality is less and less our organising concept. I would be de-
lighted to learn that I am speaking too narrowly from the Anglo-American
context and very much hope that our different national experiences throw up
a more diverse and encouraging range.


Barrett, Micheie and Anne Phillips (Eds.): Destabilising Theory. Conternporary

Ferninist Debates. Carnbridge: Polity, 1992
Barrett, Micheie: Ferninisrn's Turn to Culture. In: Wornen: A Critical Review 1
(1990), pp. 22-4
Butler, Judith: Merely Cultural. In: Social Text 52.3 (1997), pp.265
Butler, Judith: Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge, 1990
Butler, Judith, Ernesto Laclau and SIavoj Zizek (Eds.): Contingency, Hegernony,
Universality. Conternporary Dialogues on the Left. London: Verso, 2000
Fraser, Nancy: Heterosexisrn, Misrecognition, and Capitalisrn. A Response to Judith
Butler. In: Social Text 52.3 (1997), pp. 285-6
Fraser, Nancy: Justice Interruptus. CriticaI Reflections on the 'Postsocialist' Condi-
tion. New York: Routledge, 1997
Spelrnan, Elizabeth: Inessential Wornan. Boston: Beacon Press, 1988
Acharya, Ira: holds an M.A. in Economics from Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandul Nepal. She is currently District Programme Manager of the
Micro-Enterprise Development Programme, Sunsari, Nepal. Participation in
the project area "work" at International Women's University (ifu) in Han-
nover/ Germany (2000).

AI-Hamdani, Rashida A.: B.A. (Hons) in Psychology from Aligarh Muslim

University/ India (1971). Diploma in Planning & Development from Sana' a
University / Yemen (1989). Present Occupation: Chairperson of the Women
National Committee and General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for
Women. Managing Director for Administration and Labour - Office of the
Prime Minister, Sana'a, Republic ofYemen.

Choluj, Botena: professor of German Literature and Gender Studies at the

University of Warsaw, Poland and of Comparative Central European Studies
at the Europa-Universität Viadrina at Frankfurt/Oder, Germany. Selected
publications: Deutsche Schriftsteller im Banne der Novemberrevolution
1918. Wiesbaden 1991; Alltag als Enge in deutschen Prosawerken vom Ende
des 19. Jds. bis zur Gegenwart. Warsaw 1999; numerous artic1es on women
and on gender studies.

Ege, Gamze: research assistant and graduate student of the Gender and
Women's Studies Program at the Middle East Technical University (METU)
in Ankara/ Turkey. She holds a B.S. degree in sociology and is currently
working on her master's thesis entitled Foreign Domestic Workers in Turkey:
A New Form ofTrafficking in Women?

Fleßner, Heike: professor of Social Pedagogy at Carl von Ossietzky Univer-

sität Oldenburg/ Germany. Ph.D. in Pedagogy. She teaches Social Pedagogy
and Women's and Gender Studies. Research focus on gender and social
work; visiting professor in the USA; co-initiator of the Oldenburg Women's
and Gender Studies program; co-founder and currently spokeswoman of the
Center of Interdisciplinary Research on Women and Gender at Universität
Oldenburg; recent publications inc1ude: Frech, frei und fordernd - oder?
Mädchenbilder von Pädagoginnen und ihre Bedeutung für die Mädchenar-
beit. In: King/ Müller (Eds.): Adoleszenz und pädagogische Praxis. Freiburg
2000; (with R.Kurth/M.Kriszio/L.Potts) Women's Studies im internationalen
Vergleich. Pfaffenweiler 1994

Ghimire-Niraula, Puspa: lecturer of Economics and Women's Studies at

Padmakanya Multiple Campus Tribhuvan University, Kathmandul Nepal.
230 Contributors

She got her M.A. in Economics from T.U., Kathmandu (1984), and her M.Sc.
in Rural and Regional Development Planning at the Asian Institute of Tech-
nology, Bangkok/ Thailand (1995). She participated in the project area
"Work" at International Women's University (ifu), Hannoverl Germany
(2000). Research focuses on: Gender Budget Audit Nepal, status analysis of
girls' and women's education, status and profile of Nepalese women; gl ob-
alization and its impact on women's work; community forestry management
from gender perspectives.

Grace, Victoria: senior lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Can-

terburyl NewZealand. She has past experience as Head of Department of
Gender Studies, and as Dean ofthe Faculty of Arts. Her research interests are
in feminist theory, and in gen der, health and embodiment with a particular
interest in chronic pelvic pain. She is co-editor of Bodily Boundaries, Sexu-
alised Genders and Medical Discourses (1997), and author of Baudrillard's
Challenge. A Feminist Reading (2000).

GrijJin, Gabriele: professor of Gender Studies at the University of Hulll UK.

Her research focuses on feminism and women's cultural production. Recent
publications include: Thinking Differently: A Reader in European Women's
Studies (ZED Books 2002, co-ed. with Rosi Braidotti), HIV/AIDS and Rep-
resentation: Visibility Blue/s (Manchester University Press, 2000), and
Straight Studies Modified: Lesbian Interventions in the Academy (co-ed.
with Sonya Andermahr, Cassell, 1997) She is co-founding editor of the jour-
nal Feminist Theory (Sage), and co-ordinator of an EU-funded research proj-
ect on "Women's Studies Training and Women's Employment in Europe".

Haddad, Yasmin: PhD degree in Social Psychology from the University of

Rochesterl USA (1982); M.A. in Educational Psychology and B.A. in Psy-
chology from the University of Jordan. Research focus on the affective and
motivational factors that influence performance in achievement situations
with emphasis on gender issues. She also conducts research on the differen-
tial socialization practices of boys and girls within the family context. Par-
ticipation in numerous conventions and workshops related to women's issues.
Recently edited and reviewed an Arabic translation of An Introduction to
Social Psychology and an Arabic translation of Applied Psychology. Since
eight years Chair ofthe Psychology Department at the University of Jordan.

Ismail, Rokhsana Mohammed: Ph. D. in Chemistry; is Lecturer in the De-

partment of Chemistry, Faculty of Education at the University of Adenl
Yemen. She is also director of the university's Women Center of Training
and Research. In 1997 she was awarded the Women of Color Technology
Award! Baltimore's Bicentennial Celebration, USA. Her publications include
Contributors 231
numerous articles in chemistry journals as weII as artic1es on women and
gen der in Yemen.

Lohmann, Kinga: Historian and author of articles on African and religious

issues. Lived in West Africa for 14 years. Involved in women's projects in
Poland since 1995. Author and editor of documents and reports on women's
issues. Initiator, founder and regional coordinator ofthe KARAT Coalition-
coalition of women's NGOs from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Ac-
tively involved in formulating a special Central Eastern European vision
regarding women's equal status. Contributor to the presence ofthe CEE point
of view at UN fora.

Meintjes, Sheila: senior lecturer in Political Studies at the University of the

Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she teaches African Studies, Political
Theory and Feminist Theory and Politics. She has a BA (Honours)(Rhodes),
an MA (African Studies) (Sussex) and a Ph.D (School of Oriental and Afri-
can Studies, London). Research focus on gender and electoral politics,
women and war, gendered violence, and engendering the state. She was ac-
tive in women's organisations during apartheid, and was part ofthe Women's
National Coalition. In 2001 she was appointed to the Commission for Gender
Equality as a FuII-time Commissioner.

Metz-Göckel, Sigrid: professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre of

Research on Higher Education and Instructional Development at the Univer-
sität Dortmund. Research fields: Institutional processes in higher education in
regard to women and gender. Recent publications: Diplom-Pädagogen un-
terwegs. Riskante Wege auf dem Arbeitsmarkt. Dortmund 2001 (coed.);
Lehren und Lernen an der Internationalen Frauenuniversität "Technik und
Kultur". Opladen 2002 (ed.). Spokeswoman of the postgraduate program
'Gender Relations and So ci al Change. Women's Activity Chances and Power
Potential' (1993-1999) and since 2001 of the doctoral program "Knowledge
management and self-organization". Member of several national and federal
committees, such as the German Bundestag and the Deutsche For-
schungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Phi/lips, Anne: Ph.D; is Professor of Gender Theory at the London School of

Economics and Political Science. In 1990 she was co-winner of the American
Political Science Association's Victoria Schuck Award for Best Book on
Women and Politics and in 1999 she was awarded a honorary doctorate,
University of Aalborg/ Denmark. Her books inc1ude: Which Equalities Mat-
ter? Polity Press, 1999; Democracy and Difference, Polity Press and Penn-
sylvania State University Press, 1993; Engendering Democracy, Polity Press
and Pennsylvania State University Press 1991 (Spanish edition 1994, German
232 Contributors
edition 1995, Turkish edition 1995, Mexican edition, 1995, Croatian edition

Potts, Lydia: Ph.D; teaches Political Science, Intercultural Education and

Women's and Gender Studies at the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Olden-
burg/ Germany. Main fields of research: global migration and gender, mi-
grant families, migration and ageing, travel literature by women. Visiting
professor in the USA; HCM-fellowship, European Gender Research Labora-
tory, London School ofEconomics and Political Science (1995). Co-founder
of the Center of Interdisciplinary Research on Women and Gender at the
Universität Oldenburg. Books include: The World Labour Market. A History
of Migration, London: zed 1990; Frauen - Flucht - Asyl (with B. Prasske),
Bielefeld 1993; Women's Studies im internationalen Vergleich (with H.
Fleßner/ R. Kurth/ M. Kriszio), Aufbruch und Abenteuer (2. ed. Frankfurt

Salem-Pickartz, Josi: Ph.D., was born and educated in Germany. She is a

clinical psychologist living in Jordan and frequently works as a consultant for
UNICEF and UNHCR in Jordan, Iraq and Armenia. Visiting professor at the
university of Siegen! Germany (200112). Her expertise covers stress and
trauma counselling, child protection policy development, health, educational
and social services development and women empowerment programs. Forth-
coming publications: Jordanian Women's Situation and Needs and Demo-
cratic Leadership training for women, both to be published by AI Kutba In-
stitute for Human Development, Amman, 2002.

Schunter-Kleemann, Susanne: professor of Sociology and Political Science at

the Hochschule Bremen (University of Applied Sciences) Germany. She is
co-founder of the Scientific Unit for Women's Studies and Women's Re-
search (WE FF). The WE FF is a joint project of a group of professors which
aims at integrating the results ofwomen's studies into teaching and research.
Research focuses on cross cultural studies on women and welfare systems in
Europe and on the European integration. Publications (selection): EG-Bin-
nenmarkt- EuroPatriarchat oder Aufbruch der Frauen. Bremen, WEFF Verlag
1990 (ed.); Herrenhaus Europa - Geschlechterverhältnisse im Wohlfahrts-
staat. Berlin, Edition Sigma 1992 (ed.).

Singal, Savita: professor of Family Resource Management; presently work-

ing as Dean of the I.c. College of Horne Science at CCS Haryana Agricul-
tural University, Hisar/ India. Prior to this she worked as an assistant profes-
sor, scientist, professor, and head of the department (Family Resource Man-
agement) in the same university. Research papers and articles in various
journals and magazines. Visiting scholar cum tutor at International Women's
University (ifu), at Hannover/ Germany (2000).
Contributors 233

Wenk, Silke: professor of Art History and Gender Studies at the Carl von
Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg/ Germany. She is one of the initiators of the
Kolleg Kulturwissenschaftliche Geschlechterstudien (postgraduate pro gram
in Cultural Gender Studies). She has published on gender and visual repre-
sentation of the politics of the 19th and 20th century and on feminist art his-
tory. Books (selection): Versteinerte Weiblichkeit. Allegorien in der Skulptur
der Modeme. KölnlWeimar/Wien 1996; Henry Moore, Large Two Forms -
eine Allegorie des Sozialstaates. Frankfurt a. M. 1997; Erinnerungsorte aus
Beton. Bunker in Städten und Landschaften (2001) and a book ab out Gender
and Memory (coed. Insa Eschebach, 2002)

ZaJar, Samiera: M.A. in Education at the University ofNatal-Durbani South

Africa (1996). Education policy analyst at the Education Policy Unit based at
the University ofNatal and currently at the Centre for Education Policy De-
velopment, Evaluation and Management (CEPD), an independent NGO
based in Gauteng. She currently serves on the National Forum for Anti-Ra-
cism in Education and Training that has been recently established by the
South African Human Rights Commission. Recent publication: Desegrega-
tion in South African public schools: emerging patterns and dominant trends
for the National Centre for Curriculum Research and Development, 1999
(with Vally, S.)

Zimmermann, Susan: professor of History and Head of the department of

Gender Studies at the Central European University, Budapest/Hungary. Ha-
bilitation at the Universität Linz/ Austria. Besides a Ph.D. in history (1993),
she holds a post graduate degree in Political Science. She also worked at the
Institute for Research on Global Structures, DeveIopment and Crises in
Starnberg/ Germany. Major fields of scholarly interest: comparative social
change, gender and women's history, theory of history and the construction
of knowledge, and comparative history of the welfare state. Recent publica-
tions: Die bessere Hälfte? Frauenbewegungen und Frauenbestrebungen im
Ungarn der Habsburgermonarchie 1848 bis 1918 Wienl Budapest 1999;
Sozialpolitik in der Peripherie. Entwicklungsmuster und Wandel in Latei-
namerika, Afrika, Asien und Osteuropa, Frankfurt/ M./ Wien 2001 (ed. to-
gether with J. Jäger, G. Melinz).