Nurturing Gender Equality in the New European Neighbourhood Policy: is the European Union a Caring Neighbour?
MetadataShow full item record
This research analyses the gender mainstreaming and gender framing strategies in the European Union (EU) development programme in the New European Neighbourhood Policy (NENP) through quantitative and qualitative research of policy documents at the different stages of the policy cycle. The objective is to evaluate whether the EU approach can be considered as transformative or integrationist. The former approach is an agenda-setting approach that aims at challenging and transforming well- established norms and practices that might reproduce inequalities. A transformative approach increases the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming as a strategy for achieving gender equality. The latter approach does not disrupt business as usual and the patriarchal norms by providing tools for assessing gender mainstreaming and policies only once they are formulated and implemented. Firstly, documents are analysed quantitatively by assessing the language and the budget of the programme. Subsequently, the way gender issues are framed in the NENP is assessed through a qualitative analysis. The results derived from this combined analysis demonstrate that even though there was higher gender responsiveness of the budget for the last period (2017-2020), the focus still remains largely on women. While it is crucial to underline women's issues, it is important to not victimise women. Women and civil society organisations deserve to be seen as actors of change and to get a greater inclusion in the early stages of policymaking. Besides, the major frames of the EU gender approach towards its neighbours reveal that gender is perceived as an instrumental tool to achieve economic growth and poverty reduction. It reflects more a ‘box-ticking exercise’ rather than the comprehensive understanding of gender issues. This indicates that despite efforts from the European Union over the years, there is still a lot to be done to successfully implement a transformative gender mainstreaming approach which will in turn achieve the objective of gender equality. This gap can be explained by the limited room for civil society organisations and women’s movements in policymaking, but also the lack of integration of the contextual realities regarding gender issues in the neighbouring countries, and the use of gender as a noun rather a verb among other variables. Gender issues are not women’s issues only, but concern everybody. Hence, all hands on deck are required to endorse a transformative gender mainstreaming approach in the New European Neighbourhood Policy.