Discursive translations of gender mainstreaming norms: The case of agricultural and climate change policies in Uganda
This paper (PDF) in the Women’s Studies International Forum takes a discourse analytical perspective on gender policy and budgeting and examines what happens to gender issues in agriculture and climate change adapation when they are mainstramed and domesticated in different governance levels (national, district and sub-county). The study finds that while the international norm of gender mainstreaming has been formally adopted in Uganda, its transformational potential was reduced through five distinct processes during norm translation. During the process of drafting policies; 1) certain gender discourses were overlooked or completely ignored (neglecting gender and climate change discourse); 2) gender discourses at sub-national level remained static (gender inertia); 3) prescriptions remained at a very generic level (shrinking gender norms); 4) gender mainstreaming exercises co-existed with certain contradictory normative cultural understandings (embracing discursive hybridity) and; 5) the lack of relevant budgets indicated that gender mainstreaming largely stopped at the discursive level and did not extend to meaningful policy instruments (minimizing budgets). The transformational potential of international norms on gender mainstreaming should however not be taken as given, nor should be stipulated as the only or most obvious source of transformational change in gender relations. The findings suggest that the formulation of a global strategy will likely not suffice in dealing with highly localized and context specific gender dynamics, and in dealing with structurally embedded gender inequalities. The assumption that international gender norms could significantly affect local patriarchal contexts needs to be reassessed. While the institutionalization of gender mainstreaming might be helpful for gaining legitimacy and public awareness on the matter, other strategies will likely need to be in place for its success. Willingsness for gender transformative change and strong gender analysis capabilities from policy makers is still largely deficient in Uganda. Future research should focus on international norm translation, assess what locally-crafted strategies help gender mainstreaming strategies thrive and examine the interactions of non-government organizations with governments for a complete picture of gender norm translation on the ground.
A research highlight of CGIAR has been published here.