Concepts of citizenship underlying EU gender equality policiesConcepts of citizenship underlying EU gender equality policies
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Citizenship, Equality & Diversity (CED)
Citizenship studies. - Cambridge
12(2008):5, p. 481-493
University of Antwerp
This article assesses the framing of gender equality in the EU political discourse from 1995 to 2005 and the conceptualisations of citizenship that emerge from it. To assess the extent to which EU gender equality policies meet the aspirations of the concept of a gender equal citizenship, it develops an analysis of how different feminist approaches to citizenship are related to concepts of rights and responsibilities in EU gender equality policies. The frame analysis of a selection of EU policy documents in the areas of family policies, domestic violence, and gender inequality in politics reflects different configurations of the relation between feminist conceptualisations of citizenship and citizens' distribution of rights and responsibilities. Findings show that both gender-neutral and gender-differentiated conceptualisations of citizenship are present in EU policy documents, while a gender-pluralist approach tends to be absent. They also reveal that, while both men and women are formally treated as right-holders, women are framed as mainly responsible for eradicating the barriers to an equal enjoyment of citizenship rights. Moreover, men and women are constructed as different citizens. The article concludes that EU formal definitions of citizenship based on the concept of equality, while promoting legal gender equality and acknowledging the existence of gender obstacles to the enjoyment of an equal citizenship for women, are not by definition translated into policy initiatives transformative of traditional gender roles. In this respect they could hamper the achievement of a gender equal citizenship in the European Union.