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Ticking boxes and clocking in: A critical view of gender mainstreaming in labour-market integration

Conference contribution
Authors Shelley Kotze
Mirek Dymitrow
Published in Conference “Organizing Migration and Integration in Contemporary Societies”, Gothenburg Research Institute and Centre on Global Migration, 6–9 November 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Mistra Urban Futures
Language en
Links https://gri.gu.se/english/conferenc...
Keywords integration, migration, gender mainstreaming, employment, non-performativity
Subject categories Political Science, Public Administration Studies, Human Geography, Gender Studies

Abstract

Sweden officially adopted gender mainstreaming in 1994, launching initiatives throughout all governmental levels in 2007. This presentation focuses on gender mainstreaming in the labour-market integration of immigrant women, where levels of unemployment are consistently 10% higher than immigrant men, and are three times the level of Swedish women. We question how useful gender mainstreaming is in producing meaningful outcomes for immigrant women in this context. Our research will use a gender perspective to explore projects which cite integration as a key component of their work, located in Gothenburg’s North-East, an area characterised by its disproportionally high immigrant population, and its unexploited social capital. Our analysis will identify taken-for-granted ideologies and norms that dominate employment initiatives for immigrant women. By applying the theory of non-performativity, we suggest that a lack of understanding of the concept of gender mainstreaming results in tokenistic attempts at integration. This undermines the rationale of the deployed efforts through the reproduction of gender norms and power relations. In critically discussing the usefulness of gender mainstreaming in integration projects, our findings suggest that the concept is used as an end point itself, as opposed to a means to an end. We suggest that, in practice, gender mainstreaming is likely to contribute little more than lip-service. We therefore urge that projects move beyond counting numbers, and place more emphasis on the tangible, beneficial and equitable outcomes they produce for immigrant women.

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