Globalization and the diffusion of gender policy reforms in Latin America
Gernet, Christiane (2008) Globalization and the diffusion of gender policy reforms in Latin America. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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In the 1990s, Latin American countries introduced similar national gender equality policy reforms. The key policy areas in which this convergence took place were the criminalization of domestic violence, the introduction of state agencies for women, and the incorporation into law of candidate gender quotas for national parliamentary elections. This thesis evaluates the explanations offered in the existing literature, including both national and international level analyses that could explain this process of policy convergence.
The thesis uses a combination of methodological approaches drawn from the policy diffusion and policy transfer literatures. Drawing on the existing literature a number of hypotheses are constructed which could explain the observed pattern of policy change. These include: the number of women in parliament; the level of democracy; the level of economic development; measures of women's education; fertility rates; the strength of the national women's movement; the existence of relevant international norms; the state's involvement in transnational networks; the state's record of similar policy reform; and the degree of geographical proximity to earlier adopters of reforms. The macro study operationalises the external and internal independent variables that emerge from the hypotheses to facilitate an event history analysis. Drawing on the findings of the macro study a case study analysis was carried out on the reform of domestic violence legislation, and the failure to introduce candidate gender quotas in Chile.
The macro study confirms the importance of international norms and transnational networks as significant factors in the policy diffusion across the region, and confirms that international norms were mediated by domestic factors including the strength of the local women's movement, domestic political culture and institutional structures. Surprisingly, in contrast to dominant views in the literature, the macro study indicated that the level of economic development, the level of democracy or the status of women were not significant factors in explaining the adoption of reforms. In fact, the criminalisation of domestic violence was negatively correlated to women's status. The case studies confirmed the findings of the macro study at the micro level, in an analysis of
Chile's adoption of laws criminalising domestic violence, and its rejection of gender quotas.
The wave of gender equality policy reform in Latin America coincided with an increased global interest in women's rights, and the emergence of a global gender equality regime. The thesis demonstrates that the global diffusion of gender equality ideas is a feature of the conditions of national policy-making in a globalizing world.
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