This article aims to understand what happens when gender equality policies cross prison walls – a challenging domain that has traditionally been invisibilised and ignored in the scholarship on gender and politics. By analysing the formulation and post-adoption phases in Spain, four main conclusions are drawn: first, the formulation phase has been highly impacted by the absence of the feminist movement and gender experts, resulting in the adoption of traditional views about the nature and needs of women; second, the lack of knowledge about, or disagreement with, the goals of the public policies activates forms of resistance that block attempts to advance; third, the ideas included in policy documents can be ‘fixed’ in the implementation phase and can eventually shape future courses of action; and, finally, the persistent absence of the feminist movement in the post-adoption phase results in the lack of opportunities to change the course of action towards a more transformative path.
This thematic section seeks to contribute to emerging research on gender and policy that combines post-adoption and ideational approaches to address how and why ideas matter in gender equality policy implementation. In this article, the two research streams are first discussed. Next, the potential ingredients for gender transformation from current research are presented and then examined in the cases of post-adoption in Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, France and the Council of Europe in the four contributions to the thematic section. The concluding comparative assessment confirms what research has already found: the interplay between actors, ideas and institutions is crucial. Who comes forward and the ideas and political meanings those actors advance are what ultimately matter, dictated in certain policy sectors by the institutional micro-foundations of that domain. The article ends with the lessons learned from, and next steps that come out of, this thematic section.
This article assesses the ability of the European Commission’s current approach to policy evaluation to evaluate gender mainstreaming and, in turn, other cross-cutting social agendas (Articles 8–10 TFEU). Taking European Union research policy as a case study, through our analysis, we reveal mismatches between current evaluation standards adopted within the Better Regulation framework and requirements for effectively assessing progress towards cross-cutting social objectives, such as gender equality. The article concludes with a series of recommendations to overcome the identified shortcomings. Our analysis constitutes a key contribution to the development of feminist scholarship on the post-implementation phase of the policy process.