EU Gender Equality for Export? A discourse analysis and postcolonial feminist critique of the construction of ‘gender equality’ in the EU Gender Action Plan II

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This study employs an approach to policy as discourse and examines the construction of gender equality in the EU Gender Action Plan II. Drawing from the poststructural premise that discourses affect how issues are being thought about and acted upon, the study seeks to scrutinize how gender equality is attributed with meaning by applying Carol Bacchi’s analytical methodology What’s the problem represented to be?. As a way of broadening the critical perspective, the findings are examined through a theoretical lens of postcolonial feminism. The analysis reveals that gender equality is represented as a fundamental value with strong moral and ethical implications, as well as an instrumental incentive. To the latter, gender equality is presented as a means to achieve other societal goals. The theoretical analysis unveils that the discourse builds on an understanding of gender (in)equality drawn from Western preconceptions. Consequently, the complex interaction of power structures is reduced into two polarities according to which women are presumed as victims of male domination. This universalization of women does not only neglect the experiences of women in the third world, but may also fail to address the root causes of inequality. Potentially, GAP II may even be counterproductive in its envision to empower women and girls.

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