Global Resources

Gendering Governance

Author: G. Waylen
Publisher: Publishers WWW sites
Publication Date: Jan 2008
Governance has become a central concept used by policymakers and politicians at the local, national, regional and global levels - as well as by political and other social scientists. Given this broad range of actors and the multiple institutions and disciplines in which it is used, governance is a notoriously 'slippery' and contested concept - with each 'field' tending to place greater emphasis on some characteristics associated with governance than others. However, most agree that the move towards the use of governance is the result of changes in the structures and processes of government and the emergence of new ways of thinking about governing. Yet gendered perspectives have been mostly absent from the growing literature on governance - 'mainstream' work has rarely gone beyond mentioning women's organisations as new policy actors. And to date, feminist critiques of this mainstream literature remain sparse.

This chapter argues that, despite the lack of 'gender', the move from a focus on government to one on governance provides feminist political scientists with new opportunities. This broader understanding moves beyond government to interrogate a range of changing relationships - relationships between market and state, policy communities of state and non-state actors, and the arenas of the 'public' and the 'private'. This chapter - along with recommendations for further work - prioritises producing gendered analyses of institutions; of the actors and the relationships between them; and, particularly, of the changing relationship between the market and state, and the role of citizens. So the aim should not be to throw out the concept of governance but to change the substance, to reflect gendered understandings. In fact, feminist and mainstream political sciences alike have much to gain from each other.