Including women's voices? Gender mainstreaming in EU and SADC development strategies for Southern Africa
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
University of Antwerp
This article examines gender mainstreaming in European Union (EU) development policy towards southern Africa. The aim is to detect how gender (in) equality in southern Africa is framed by the EU, and the extent to which this overlaps with Southern African Development Community (SADC) and civil society framing of gender (in) equality. We also explore potential reasons for the overlap and mismatch of frames. Using the methodology of critical frame analysis, EU policy programming documents are analysed and compared to SADC's Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, and civil society texts on gender equality. We conclude that the EU approach to gender mainstreaming in its development aid towards southern Africa is to a large extent instrumentalist, predominantly integrationist and only partially participatory. Gender mainstreaming is framed as a way of more effectively achieving existing policy goals, and civil society groups are poorly integrated in the drafting process. Although the EU approach has significant overlap with the frames used by SADC, the latter seem to hold a broader, more holistic conception of gender mainstreaming. A major gap exists between civil society organisations' views on gender (in) equality and those expressed by the EU. This gap might be harmful for the relevance of EU policies and may compromise their effectiveness.