Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


IV. Conclusion

The presentation of the July 2001 text of White Paper marks a stage in an ongoing process, rather than an end or, indeed, a beginning. There is still scope for intervention and influence within this process by social actors arguing that the `high politics' of a governance reform process need a gender perspective just as much as the `low politics' of everyday decision-making and policy-making within the EU institutions. The impulse to write this brief critical comment resulted from the complete absence of reference to `gender', `women' or `sex' in the White Paper text of July 2001 and its directly antecedent documents. Even a token reference to the gendered nature of the policy environments and contexts under discussion when institutions and governance are placed at issue might have had the effect of diverting through the `politics of presence' at least some of the criticisms made in this paper. Some - even minimal - discussion would have at least provided some anchors for critique and constructive engagement. The fact that even the limited reference points provided in the Working Group reports found no resonance in the final text is something to be regretted. It certainly should not pass without comment in a symposium on the White Paper on Governance.

Clearly, as this paper has acknowledged, gender mainstreaming is certainly not unproblematic either as a principle or a strategy for developing gender equality. It has a chequered history in neo-liberal international governance. under-theorised and under-specified and leads to mixed results where attempts are made to transfer policy experience from one domain to another. Above all, though, it could only lead to real changes in gendered power relations within society under conditions where positive discourse enabled a form of `norm resonance' (Wiener and Wobbe 2001). What it does offer, though as a minimum, is an empowering frame of reference for those who seek to bring gender equality into the public sphere for debate. In this sense, it offers a `resonance point' (Schwellnus 2001) with which social actors can and indeed and, indeed, should intervene in the debate about a just and fair society and about open and accountable power relations.




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