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Our research aims to bring a critical feminist perspective to bear on women's political and public participation in the UK and Ireland. Our projects analyse women's presence in public office and women's voice in decision making. We address emerging issues and questions about the status and impact of political women and women in leadership positions. Our research agenda places a special focus on the following themes:

  • Devolution, constitutional change and women's political participation
  • Public attitudes towards women in politics and public life
  • Media representations of women in politcs
  • Debates on political representation: gender sensitive or gender blind?
  • Women in parliaments

Occasional papers series
Dr Karen Ross, a former visiting professor with CAWP has edited a series of occasional papers on women in politics by scholars from across the globe. Abstracts of the papers, and the entire papers themselves, can be found here. If you wish to submit a paper for consideration for our series, please follow this link for details.

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Visiting Fellowships

Further details are available here.

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Reconstituting Democracy in Europe (RECON)
Over the next five years, CAWP will participate in the integrated project Reconstituting Democracy in Europe (RECON), funded by the EU under the 6th Framework Programme. Led by the Arena Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo, this integrated project involves 20 partner institutions in 12 European countries.

RECON seeks to clarify whether democracy is possible under conditions of pluralism, diversity and complex multilevel governance. To this end, it will test three different options for the reconstitution of democracy in the European context, assessing which approach is the most viable, both in empirical and normative terms. Within this project, CAWP will coordinate work package 4, entitled Justice, Democracy and Gender. The core objective of this work package is three-fold:

  • To explore the status of gender equality within the enlarged EU;
  • To analyse and explain the differentiated impact of EU-gender policies in the old and the new Member States; and
  • To arrive at a normative assessment of gender equality measures in relation to alternative notions of justice linked to the three models of reconstituting democracy in Europe.

With regard to the empirical component, this work package will elaborate and analyse the scope and the potential of EU's gender policy and its various effects in the Member States focusing on the three chosen policy areas:

  • Women's representation in decision-making
  • The gender pay gap and
  • Gender based violence and trafficking in women.

Work on this part of the project will be carried out together with researchers at two other partner institutions - the Arena Centre in Oslo and the Eötvös Lórand University in Budapest - and in close co-operation with other parts of RECON. For more information on this project, please visit the RECON website at www.reconproject.eu

As part of our commitments to RECON, CAWP Director Prof. Yvonne Galligan and Senior Research Fellow, Sara Clavero have published a paper entitled, 'Researching Gender Democracy in the EU: Challenges & Prospects'. The paper outlines a research programme for the study of democracy in the European Union (EU) from a gender perspective. It takes as its point of departure the recent turn to deliberative democracy in the field of EU studies, and more particularly, the claim that these theories can provide a response to current debates on the problem of the democratic deficit within this complex polity. The paper then discusses the relevance of deliberative democracy to research on gender in the EU and the main challenges that arise in trying to operationalise its main theoretical tenets. Drawing on feminist revisions of deliberative democracy theory, as well as on previous applications of these theories to empirical research, the paper proposes a set of indicators that can be used for an assessment of gender and democratic deliberation in this supranational arena. The full text can be downloaded here.

Yvonne & Sara's second RECON working paper is entitled 'Assessing Gender Democracy in the European Union: A Methodological Framework'. This paper presents a methodological framework for assessing the quality of democracy in the EU from a gender perspective. After describing the general background to the development of this methodology, the paper discusses a set of questions that need to be addressed in the course of this research. These include: What do we exactly mean by 'gender democracy'? What are the purposes of this assessment? How can we move from abstract concepts such as 'gender democracy' to observable indicators? Once a set of indicators has been derived, how should we use these in an assessment context? In addressing these questions, the paper presents a variety of methodologies that have been adopted in established assessments of democratic performance, critically discussing their strengths and weaknesses as well as their applicability for an assessment of gender and democracy. This survey exercise exposes the complexities involved in the design and implementation of a methodology for a gender-sensitive assessment of democracy and the difficult choices encountered by the researchers at every step of the way. The full text can be found here.

Yvonne & Sara have published an article in the Public Service Review: European Union - Issue 17 which is based on their RECON research. Entitled 'Minding the Gap' the article examines how gender democracy is being supported in Europe. The article can be accessed here.

Processes Influencing Democratic Ownership and Participation (PIDOP)
Over the next three years, CAWP will participate in the multinational research project PIDOP, which is funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme. The project is examining the processes which influence democratic ownership and participation in eight European states - Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

The project draws on the disciplines of Psychology, Politics, Sociology, Anthropology, Social Policy and Education to examine macro-level contextual factors (including historical, political, electoral, economic and policy factors), proximal social factors (including familial, educational and media factors) and psychological factors (including motivational, cognitive, attitudinal and identity factors) which facilitate and/or inhibit civic and political engagement and participation. As part of the project, a multi-level process model of civic and political engagement and participation is being constructed to explain how and why different forms and interpretations of democratic ownership and participation develop or are hampered among citizens living in different European countries and contexts.

Young people, women, minorities and migrants are being examined as four specific groups at risk of political disengagement. The research is exploring the differences as well as the overlap between civic and political engagement, and both direct and representative participation.

Within this project, Prof. Yvonne Galligan will coordinate Work Package 3, which is formulating theoretically motivated research questions from the perspective of political science for investigation in the empirical work packages. It is also interpreting the findings which emerge from those work packages at a theoretical level, the aim being to develop a macro-level political theory of participation. For more information please visit the PIDOP website.

Independent Gender Equality Audit and Fianna Fail Gender Equality Action Plan 2004-2014

In 2004 the Centre became independent consultants to the Steering Group for Fianna Fail's Gender Equality Action Plan. The reports findings identify a range of obstacles to women's more active political involvement in the party- such as the lack of a support network for women considering political careers, childcare issues and not being chosen for winnable seats. In addition to attracting more women into Fianna Fail ranks, the party also aims to have women comprising one third of all party officers at cumann, comhairle ceanntair and comhairle Dail cheanntair levels by 2014. To view the report pdf form click here>>>>Fianna Fail Report

Joint projects
Along with the Institute of Governance and partners in Italy and ten eastern and central European countries, we are undertaking a study of women's participation and representation in politics in EU candidate countries and how preparation for accession may be influencing women's civic and political participation. This undertaking, funded by the European Commission, is the most significant of CAWP's research projects and will continue until 2005. More details are available here.

We are also working with Uganda's Makerere University to improve affirmative action programmes for women in politics in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The major output is a regional publication, distributed in the eight countries of East and Central Africa summarising best practice and the pitfalls of affirmative action programmes in the region, and recommendations for mainstreaming women into political decision making.

The women in parliaments project is an international study on women's parliamentary presence in developed and emerging democracies jointly co-ordinated by Dr Yvonne Galligan, Director of CAWP and Dr Manon Tremblay, Director of the Research Centre on Women and Politics, University of Ottawa, Canada.

Women on corporate boards
In addition to these projects dealing with women and politics, CAWP was contracted by the International Women's Forum-Ireland to study women and decision making in the corporate sector. The important research publication "Women and Corporate Governance in Ireland" was launched by Michael Buckley, CEO of AIB, on Thursday 22 January 2004 in the National Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin. While surveys of women on corporate boards are carried out annually in the US and the UK, this study is the first of its kind in Ireland. The report includes results of benchmarking of the gender balance on Irish corporate boards and a survey of board chairmen and women directors on barriers to women's corporate progress and strategies for overcoming these. The research was conducted by Prof. Yvonne Galligan, Director of CAWP. Report in pdf here.

Other research news
Bronagh Rice has carried out some research with young people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to gauge their perceptions of, and explanations for the under-representation of women in politics in Ireland. She has then analysed what these views and explanations mean for the future of women's political participation. Her paper can be accessed here.

Closer to home, public attitudes in Northern Ireland towards women in political participation and leadership (designed as a module in the Nothern Ireland Life and Times survey) have been surveyed. The results of this survey were published in March 2003. Press release >>>>.

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