Policy movement through the lens of postcolonial feminism, policy transfer, and policy translation
: the case of gender mainstreaming in Thailand

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Gender mainstreaming as a global policy paradigm has been “universally” accepted as a revolutionary strategy to achieve gender equality since the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. This “global” policy has been moved across scales over country boundaries, and political and social entities. Thailand, situated in the Global South, adopted and introduced gender mainstreaming into its institutions; however, how this notion has been moved and the subsequent impacts have been under-researched. Therefore, this study aims to examine the movement process of gender mainstreaming across the Thai national boundary and into implementation settings by investigating the only official policy on gender mainstreaming: the Cabinet Resolution of 31/07/2001 on the establishment of the Chief Gender Equality Officers (CGEOs) and Gender Focal Points (GFPs) in departments and ministries, and the subsequent implementation of this policy. The innovative tripartite conceptual framework consisting of postcolonial feminism, policy transfer, and policy translation is applied as complementary analytical lens for this study. A multi-scalar qualitative approach is adopted drawing on documentary research and semi-structured interviews with 30 policy actors from across international, regional, national, and implementation scales.

This study finds that “universal” gender mainstreaming policy is not a definitive homogeneous solution, which can be immediately applied to all diverse settings. This is because the movement is complex and contingency includes the multifaceted layers of explicit and implicit meanings held by policy actors; the multi-scalar and multiple policy actors who interact under the dynamics and asymmetry of power relations and gender hierarchies; the unfinished process which is operated under interpretation, negotiation, reinterpretation; and the destination setting as active recipients. This complexity and contingency lead to a transformation, friction, and the disjuncture of gender mainstreaming at different scales of its movement. This study argues that the movement of gender mainstreaming should not be perceived simply as a linear process, but that the focus must be placed on the multifaceted policy meanings, multiple policy actors, multi-scalar connectivity, with consideration of the gender and power relations and the particularity of social, political, and historical factors entrenched in the new settings. The study also provides theoretical reflection to de/re-conceptualise the notion of gender mainstreaming through a policy discourse approach; to engage multiple and multi-scalar policy actors through inclusive collaboration; and to be aware of the diverse and unique settings through a bottom-up approach. These approaches together with a more nuanced understanding of the processes involved in gender mainstreaming movement would strengthen the envisioned transformative change and tackle gender inequality on the ground.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorPatricia A Kennett (Supervisor), Misa Izuhara (Supervisor) & Sarah Payne (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Postcolonial feminism
  • Policy transfer
  • Policy translation
  • Policy movement

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