Sympathetic advocates: male parliamentarians sharing responsibility for gender equality
Gender mainstreaming, as a strategy that aims to achieve gender equality across institutions, does not work without the assistance of men. There has been a strategic shift in emphasis over the past decade from women’s issues to those concerning gender equality. Underpinning this shift is a change in focus from women exclusively, to one on both men and women in working towards mutually beneficial social and economic development. The institution of parliament is no exception. Changing social values and the increasing gender sensitivity of younger men have resulted in stronger partnerships between men and women parliamentarians on gender equality. Using qualitative data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics), this paper presents some of the strategies that have encouraged men to come on board the gender equality project. Strategies uncovered include men’s support for the legislative initiatives of women as well as men’s co-sponsorship of gender equality legislation; the appointment of men as chairs or members of gender equality bodies of the parliament (that is, bodies designed to mainstream gender equality concerns in the work of the parliament); and inviting men to participate in public activities and outreach, such as public consultations and celebratory activities for International Women’s Day.
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