Facing Obstacles to Change: implementing EU gender equality policies in the Central and Eastern European Countries
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Magister)Student thesis
On May 1st 2004 the European Union was enlarged with ten new countries. Eight of these share a common background as satellite states of the former Soviet Union and today three more are candidate countries for an EU membership. These countries share a state-communist past. In terms of gender equality this affects the countries’ norms regarding gender and the conception of equality between the sexes. The EU has an outspoken commitment to gender equality and has throughout the years developed a number of Equal Opportunity Policies to combat the problem with gender discrimination within the EU. What happens when the EU is implementing these policies into the former communist countries and norms from two different environments meet? T
he thesis aim to critically review and discuss EU equal opportunity policies concerning the labour market in the former communist countries from perspectives of neo-institutionalist and contemporary feminist theory. The discussion concern obstacles to change and the creation of norms regarding gender equality, and whether the specific background (the communist experience) shared by the countries of the Eastern Europe might have implications for the process.
The thesis uses a multi strategy approach, combining text studies, interviews and quantitative data. The analytical framework consists of concepts relating to change and norm formation from cultural neo-institutionalism and a feminist perspective. The input consists of the present rules and roles in the former communist countries and the existing EU equal opportunity policies. The situation that appears when the perspectives meet is analysed from a critical feminist perspective based on modern debates regarding the east-west dichotomy within the school of feminism. By adding concept of change from the school of cultural neo-institutionalism the situation can be evaluated from a norm creating perspective. This creates an opportunity to discuss potential future scenarios.
The findings of the thesis show that there is a significant difference between the theoretical foundation for a discussion on gender equality between the EU15 and the CEEC11. This is reflected in a lack of gender awareness in the CEEC11 acknowledged by both NGOs and EU officials. The implication of this is that the EU is challenged to make the public aware of the importance of these values. They are forced to create a change in the norms governing gender equality in the CEEC11. However, the findings also show that the EU is somewhat uncritical towards its own role as the norm shaper in the process. There is a need for the European Commission to reflect over the present equal opportunity policies in order to create sustainable change. If the EU fail to do so it will most likely be the uncontested norm-holder and socialisation ceases to be a two way process. The consequence may be ineffective policies.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ekonomiska institutionen , 2004.
International Master's Programme in International and European Relations, 2004:8
Social sciences, Gender, Neo-institutionalism, Feminism, EU-policies, Gender Awareness
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-2632OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-2632DiVA: diva2:19968