This chapter considers the salience of ‘gender’ for territorial politics, territory’s importance for women’s politics and how the modernist paradigm has undercut their use. The chapter establishes how ‘federal arrangements’ (institutions, practices, discourses) are experienced differently by men and women, majority- and minority-culture women and over time. It also considers how legal pluralism affects women’s rights and citizenship and theorizes potential causal relations between state architectures and gender regimes. Interactions between ‘federal arrangements’ and democracy or democratization are of special interest, established through women’s higher participation in states with multi-level governments, and higher representation in central legislatures in federations versus unitary states. The chapter also examines how multi-level governance and policy networks help organized women promote decision-makers’ responsiveness. Finally, it identifies conditions under which power hierarchies are restructured through decentralization or devolution, making the re-gendering of ‘federal arrangements’ possible.
This chapter explores the development of the gender-federalism field focused on interactions between ‘federal arrangements’ and gender regimes. Initially the field focused on the question: ‘is federalism good or bad for women?’ It highlighted obstacles to women’s attainment of equal rights and full citizenship created by ‘federal arrangements’ blocking such changes as family-law reforms. More recently, gender-federalism scholars conceptualized such interactions as a ‘two-way street’ on which ‘federal arrangements’ affect women’s political activism but that women’s increased activism since the 1960s also began to change federal politics, discourses and institutions. Initiated by feminist political scientists in older ‘Western’ federations, the field now includes researchers in federations in the global south who explore issues focused on how interactions between ‘federalization’ and ‘democratization’ affect women’s political organizing, participation and representation. Following a brief historical overview, the chapter outlines areas of gendered inquiry that are common to federations and to formerly unitary states undergoing the devolution of power and ‘federalization’ including Belgium, Spain and the UK. It also identifies the field’s key issues and theories as well as new questions such as why women’s legislative representation is significantly higher in federations than in unitary states and in regional governments despite the rarity of regional, electoral quotas. The chapter concludes with a brief speculation about the field’s future and how its insights can be made more widely available to gender scholars and scholars of federalism.
This chapter proceeds in eight sections. After the introduction (section 6.1), section 6.2 discusses ‘gender’ and constitutional design in different types of federation. Section 6.3 explores how federations are ‘gendered’. In section 6.4, ‘gender’s’ spatial aspects are related to ‘federal arrangements’ – institutions, practices, ideas and discourses including the construct of the public/private divide. Section 6.5 considers how ‘federal arrangements’ affect women’s political representation, citing recent findings that women’s descriptive representation is higher in federations than in unitary states. Section 6.6 explores gender in relation to the effects of federalism on constitutional rights and section 6.7 looks at its impact on federations’ divisions of powers. Section 6.8 considers gender and the ‘fiscal constitution’ – notably financial equalization and social citizenship. The conclusion considers the potential impact of this emerging literature on federalism scholarship generally, especially regarding new questions for research, data collection and theory construction.
This chapter explores how studies of aspects of federations, notably inter-governmental relations (IGR) can be ‘gendered’. Recent texts about multiple conflicts suggest that understanding such aspects and federalization may require a new framework. The chapter explores the potential value of Eleanor Ostrom’s framework, especially her concept of polycentrism, i.e. multiple centers of decision making. The key hypothesis explored is that, as federalization develops, conflict between central and regional governments declines and the institutionalization of IGR increases. Previous research focused mainly on institutions and paid little attention to what factors affect women’s opportunities to participate in IGR. Such static research limited studies of ‘gender’ to its role in ‘social movements’ or ‘welfare policies’, not as a basic unit of analysis. An effective framework also must be able to theorize how institutions change, the role of ‘gender’ in effecting change and factors that promote or inhibit the institutionalization and federalization of IGR. The chapter shows that Ostrom’s framework can explain such dynamics, the management of conflict and access to IGR.
Plangsat Bitrus Dayil and Jill Vickers
The #Bring Back Our Girls (#BBOG) movement was formed in 2014 by a coalition of secular, Christian and Muslim women. It reflected many Nigerians’ anger because of the central government’s failure to protect the population, notably girls and women, against Boko Haram’s violent atrocities. #BBOG emerged when insurgents kidnapped 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State in 2014, who the security forces failed to rescue. #BBOG used social media to bring the kidnapping and security failures to people’s attention globally. The chapter locates both the #BBOG movement and the Boko Haram insurgency within the context of Nigerian federalism showing how its ‘overcentralization’ resulting from colonial and military governments affects the state’s capacity to provide security for women and girls. It also outlines causes of conflict including the effects of the Structural Adjustment Program imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the 1980s when oil prices collapsed. The resulting cuts to welfare programs made many young men unemployed, angry and available for insurgencies targeting girls and women.
Jill Vickers, Joan Grace and Cheryl N. Collier
In this Handbook a number of international gender scholars explore the third ‘wave’ of research about gender, diversity and federalism. It focuses on how institutions, ideas and practices affect, and are affected by, gender regimes as well as territorially and non-territorially organized diversities, including minority ethnicities, ‘race’, religious and sexual minorities. In recent decades, scholarship examining the intersections between gender, diversity and state architectures in federations progressed through several earlier ‘waves’. In the first wave, starting in the 1980s, feminist political scientists and legal scholars began exploring if federal systems were good or bad for women in reference to their ability to make claims against the state, usually coming to the unsatisfying conclusion that ‘it depends’. Most of these early inquiries referred to older federations, such as Australia and Canada. A second wave of gender/federalism research started around 2000. Building on earlier inquiries, feminist scholars of federalism explored if and how federal systems were gendered and what this means for women’s advocacy, organization and citizenship. But they often failed to recognize the changing natures of federations and how actors such as women’s movements can reshape architectural arrangements and institutional opportunities.