Gender Mainstreaming in Agrarian Communities

Discursive translations of gender mainstreaming norms: The case of T agricultural and climate change policies in Uganda


While the international norm on gender mainstreaming, UN-backed since 1995, has been widely adopted in national policies, gender inequalities are rarely systematically addressed on the ground. To explain this limited effectiveness, this paper takes a discourse analytical perspective on gender policy and budgeting, with a focus on the translation of the international norm into domestic norms and policies. An in-depth, inductive analysis of 107 policy documents in Uganda examines how the gender mainstreaming norm has been translated at three administrative levels: national, district, sub-county. The analysis finds five processes that reduce the norm’s transformational potential: neglecting gender discourse, gender inertia, shrinking gender norms, embracing discursive hybridity and minimising budgets. Overall, gender mainstreaming largely stopped at the discursive level, and often paradoxically depoliticised gender. The findings explain why gender mainstreaming might be helpful but not sufficient for advancing gender equality and suggest additional focus on promising practices, women’s rights movements and stronger monitoring.

Studying and working in international development cooperation, both in Indonesian government organisations and NGO; I can conclude that gender in development studies is a contextual concept. Different area and communities may have different approach or different epistemology to ‘translate’ the gender discourse. However, in this paper I recognise the similarity of mainstreaming gender issues in agrarian communities.

First, ‘gender’ as a concept in the country’s policies is a ‘glocalization’ of international agreements. As written in the paper, the translation of gender in Indonesia also stopped in ‘workshop and seminars’, or academic talks.

Second, disconnection between national and sub-national also happens in Indonesia. Not only about gender, but also about climate change, indigenous rights, and land reform related policies. I wrote a thesis about the tangled tread of forest governance and climate change policies in Indonesia, and I conclude that the complexities are too intertwined. So, the strong findings ended up that ‘political commitment’ as the prime supporter for a more concrete action in the local level.