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Gendered interests in the European union: the European women's lobby and the organisation and representation of women's interests
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Centre for feminist social studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7822-4563
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Gendered Interests and the European Union. The European Women’s Lobby and the Organisation and Representation of Women's Interests. On a general level this thesis concerns the changed and changing institutional conditions for gender equality in Europe and the organisation and institutionalisation of women’s social and political interests at the EU level. I ask in what ways political structures and authorities enable and/or obstruct women to generate, sustain and control their presence in politics as women. I explore how the EU institutions structure and provide opportunities and constraints for women to mobilise and organise to act as an authorised party vis-a-vis and within the EU political system. How does it come that women, as a collective, are not only recognised as a politically relevant group but also legitimised to act and be present as women in an organised relationship with the EU system’s main authorities? The presence comes in the form of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), an EU level and EU wide non-governmental umbrella organisation which represents some 4000 women’s organisations on multiple levels of the EU. The EWL is not the first example of women organising on the EU level, but it is the first of its kind. The EWL was initiated by women from within the European Commission and is funded mainly via a grant from the Commission. The EWL’s objectives include the endorsement of equality between women and men and to ensure that measures to promote gender equality and women’s rights are taken into account and mainstreamed in all EU policy. Using material gathered through interviews, observations and official documentation I study the structure of the European Women’s Lobby; the participation of the EWL in EU politics; the relation between the EWL and the EU institutions; the relation between the EWL’s member organisations; and the forms the representation of women’s organised social and political interests at EU level can take. I argue that in the specific political system of the EU, organised interests in civil society and the EWL perform the functions of input, and participate in output and feedback. Organised interests function as intermediaries between the national and European levels. Organised interests strive to gain influence; the Commission, as a political authority, strives to gain legitimacy of its policy-making through the input and output of representative organised interests. As a consequence of what I argue is a corporatist policymaking style of the Commission the EWL has become increasingly institutionalised. The trade off is that while the EWL has enjoyed the Commission’s support and funding to constitute an established EU level platform from which women can formulate, mobilise and pursue their interests, the EWL has must organise and take control over the interests aggregated from its member organisations and over the form of the member organisations. The very structure of the EWL can be seen as part of the price the EWL has to pay to be granted somewhat of a representative monopoly in terms of opportunities to influence EU policy-making through the various channels of consultation. In this context, I argue that the representativeness of organised interests is key. There is no electoral basis legitimising the policy-making of the Commission, instead, this basis is constituted by organised interests. Paradoxically, this holds the potential for increasing the legitimacy of the Commission, something which increasing transparency has failed to do. It is no exaggeration to claim that the EWL offers a remarkable EU level platform for women to act and pursue their interests as women. By studying the actual impact of EU level policy-making and politics on various ways, this thesis argues that the very existence of the EWL can be understood as being in the interest of women.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2009. , 325 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Gender Research
Keyword [en]
EU, European Women’s Lobby, organised interests, representation, civil society, political system, institutions, corporatism, interest theory, legitimacy, gender equality.
National Category
Gender Studies Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies) Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8633ISBN: 978-91-7668-707-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-8633DiVA: diva2:278079
Public defence
2010-01-15, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro University, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-11-25 Created: 2009-11-23 Last updated: 2015-04-13Bibliographically approved

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