Gender Mainstreaming, Women and Politics: A Case for Feminist Adult Education
Keywords:feminist adult education, gender mainstreaming, politics and the State, feminism, gender training
Gender mainstreaming emerged in the 1990s to challenge normative social and political structures and practices. Training is understood to be central to gender mainstreaming as it provides the knowledge and skills needed to empower women to participate more fully in leadership and governance roles. In this article, I apply these discourses to a study of the nonformal education and informal learning of over 100 women politicians and aspiring politicians in British Columbia (BC). Findings show current non-partisan, integrative processes are valuable but consciously and unconsciously re-enforce the status quo, essentialize and domesticate, falling far short of the transformative aspirations of gender mainstreaming the state. What is required are practices based in the principles of feminist adult education that can challenge the limitations of discourses of equality and meritocracy, render visible biases and stereotyping, destabilize normative political ‘insider’ identities, and tap into the radical activist imaginations so many women brought to the political table.
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