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10-year gender/politics study results released

PULLMAN — Members of the Research Network on Gender, Politics and the State are scheduled to present findings of a decade-long research project at the upcoming semiannual conference of the Institute of Women’s Policy Research June 19-20 in Washington, D.C.

Amy Mazur, professor of political science at Washington State University, will direct the miniconference, entitled “Government Allies for Gender Equality: A Transatlantic Dialog.” The event is expected to attract more than 600 participants from around the world.

Formed in 1995, Research Network on Gender, Politics and the State (RNGS) is a worldwide network of researchers who study gender politics and the state.

The Institute of Women’s Policy Research is a public policy research organization dedicated to informing and stimulating the debate on public policy issues impacting women and their families.

In 10 years RNGS has grown to include 45 scholars from 14 countries with their work, resulting in six books and an electronic data set from the study.

“RNGS members have written about many of the important policy debates that have affected gender equality since the early 1970s, such as abortion, job training, prostitution, political representation and state restructuring,” said Mazur, who is also co-convener of the RNGS project.

The RNGS presentation at the Institute of Women’s Policy Research conference, in part, will compare and contrast the impact of women’s movements and governmental women’s policy offices on public policy in 14 countries since the 1970s. Twelve out of the 14 countries in the study are in Western Europe. The remaining two countries studied are the United States and Canada.

“Women’s movements were successful more often than not during the late 20th century,” Mazur said. “In most of these gains they had the help of allies for gender equality inside the government—women’s policy agencies and sympathetic political leaders won over to the cause. Thus, the most important finding is that governments can be real allies with women’s movements in the pursuit of gender equality and women’s rights.”

Network researchers looked into the differences among movement activists at different times and in different countries. They considered the resources available to movements and agencies as well as the ideologies and politics of their leaders. Researchers are especially interested in differences in the ways political leaders organize the policy processes, sometimes keeping tight control and working in secret and other times letting in advocates for women’s rights.

Mazur said the most intriguing questions raised by the RNGS project are: What explains the differences between the successful movements and the unsuccessful? How significant are the women’s policy agencies in helping gain movement goals? Why do some countries seem more “women friendly” than others?

For more information on RNGS and the miniconference, visit: http://libarts.wsu.edu/polisci/rngs.

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