The Project

A group photo of Elizabeth Meehan, Dr. Yvonne Galligan, and Dr. Amanda Sloat.The main objective of EGG is to analyse the extent to which representative institutions and other organizations (such as political parties, trade unions, NGOs and social movements) enable women's participation and representation in political decision-making and governance in EU candidate countries. By looking at how the history of communist rule has affected women's current political position, the project will provide recommendations to the Commission and candidate country governments in order to underpin effective future policy-making.

EGG is distinct in its emphasis on government and civil society, as there has not yet been a systematic analysis solely of gender and enlargement, the civic and political participation of women in CEECs, or the effectiveness of attempts by the Commission and candidate country government to legislate on gender equality. It is also unique in the size and scale of its research, bringing together academic experts from all ten of the CEECs that will become EU members in 2004 and 2007.

The project focuses on three questions:

  1. What extent, and in what ways, have the twin forces of democratisation and preparation for EU accession influenced women's civic and political participation in candidate countries?
  2. What extent, and in what ways, are women's civil associations embedded in the equality policy framework in candidate countries?
  3. Are there specific strategies that could be adopted to enhance women's contribution to governance?

Specific objectives include:

  • Trace, map and analyse the contribution of women's political and civic organisations to governance in CEECs as they evolve through democratisation and EU integration.
  • Analyse the extent to which institutions encourage or inhibit women's representation and participation in discussing and determining policies and actions in which women have direct and indirect interests.
  • Identify areas where women's participation is weaker and assess why.
  • Evaluate women's influence on the adoption and implementation of current Commission and national government policies, such as gender mainstreaming and the implementation of the EU equality acquis.
  • Identify new forms of gender discrimination and segregation in post-communist countries and assess the measures required to address these problems.
  • Evaluate whether effective monitoring bodies have been established to ensure the enforcement of this legislation.

The main working hypothesis of this project is that women are under-represented in European representative institutions and associated groups (political parties, trade unions, NGOs and social movements). There are many reasons for this gender gap, but a contributing factor is that the importance of women's contributions to building a sustainable democracy is under-recognised in the development of democratic institutions and practices.Furthermore, women's participation and influence is likely to proceed slowly after candidate countries obtain EU membership unless a range of measures designed to enhance women's participation in democratic institutions and governance are developed and implemented.

The danger is that as democratic governance evolves in CEECs, representative institutions are likely to give preference to masculine norms, values and practices over gender-sensitive norms, values and practices. This has the effect of creating a democratic deficit and excluding women and women's needs, interests and perspectives from governance. The hypothesis will be developed within the context of an examination of economic and social patterns of change affecting women's status and social roles since 1989.

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This project is funded by the EU Framework V This is the logo for the European Commission's Framework Five Programme and a  link to their web site. | Copyright © 2003 Queen's University Belfast