UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 7th Annual International Postgraduate Conference
Friday 17 February 4:30 – 6:00: Panel G3: Gender Regimes
Anika Keinz (Institute of European Ethnology, Humboldt-University Berlin): ‘Gendering Europe – school of democracy?: the case of Poland’
Gender has become part of all social, political and legal discourses. Gender has been integrated into the UN-system, its conceptual planning, its language, documents and programmes as well as it has become part of the EU policies. Laws were passed and new institutional tools (equal opportunities, against discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation) have been created. In the course of the so called Europeanization process, gender even has become a category for developing and measuring the consolidation of democracy. NGOs model their gender approaches on EU-prescription, while the EU discourse on gender is shaping the pattern of women’s groups and lobbies political action.
In Poland soon after the collapse of communism, various women groups protested against a bill introducing a new restrictive anti-abortion law: a new feminist movement was born. In the course of the EU accession process, women’s issues were more and more channeled into the EU directives. Feminist concerns were transformed into gender issues, hence "mainstreamed" into agency agendas, which promote feminist ideas and actions. At the same time, gender forms a social, moral and ideological battlefield, which can be described as a re-negotiation process over (new) value orientations, gender roles and patterns of behviour.
The paper explores how and what for the category gender in Poland and what role the EU plays in making gender matter in Poland. The questions I will address are: what notion of gender is implemented by Gender Mainstreaming? Does the notion of gender change? Who is involved in defining gender knowledge and on what grounds? Particular attention will be paid to the question of how gender is re-negotiated and locally re-formed on an institutional, discoursive and biographical level.
The paper is based on empirical research (interviews with women working in NGOs, participant observation and discourse analysis) carried out in Warsaw from April 2004 to May 2005.