(How) Does Feminist Scholar-Activism at the United Nations Pay Off?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 4C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Daniela JAUK, University of Graz, Austria
The United Nations (UN) continues to provide a stage for a diverse global women’s movement and the production of global gender equality norms that, if utilized, advance gender equality in its member states. This paper focuses on how academics, i.e. feminist scholar-activists, navigate this forum of global policy development. The organization Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) serves as case study, as some of its members have sought to influence UN policy construction through advocacy at the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and to increase the visibility and applicability of feminist sociology in international policy making. In this paper I focus on themes that emerged from a sub-sample of in-depth interviews with current or former UN scholar-activists within SWS from a larger ethnographic study (2009-2012), and examine experiences of SWS members’ engagement with UN politics and policy development since the mid nineties. Based on interviews, observations, and archival material, I trace the beginning of SWS’ engagement with the CSW, and present personal benefits and challenges of members’ transnational activist work. SWS does justice to its mission of serving as an activist organization through its work in the global arena but scope and depth of influence remain limited and contested.