International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
When Edward Elgar invited us to co-edit this Handbook on Gender in World Politics, we could not but respond enthusiastically. At the end of the United Nations Decade for Women in 1985, gender was still commonly regarded as, at best, a marginal issue in world politics. Today gender is slowly, yet surely, being mainstreamed into the day-to-day operations of all major international institutions, in regional and national policy-making bodies and development organizations and in legislatures the world over. While we might – and do – continue to debate whether or not commitment to ‘gender mainstreaming’ on the part of political elites is largely rhetorical or increasingly substantive and meaningful, it cannot be denied that gender is now widely recognized as central to the practice of international politics. Concomitantly, gender has emerged as a dynamic field of study across the social sciences. While there is a long-established literature on gender in the academic disciplines of sociology, political science and development studies, during the past three decades scholars working in international relations, international political economy, international law and geography have also made substantive contributions to cutting-edge disciplinary debates and produced weighty empirical studies. One of the pleasures to be had in working on gender in world politics is the opportunities that it affords to engage with scholars in workshops and conferences and in academic journals that bring together academics and postgraduate researchers from many fields of study.