Gendering Brexit: Is There Room for Equality?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Roberta Guerrina , Politics, University of Surrey
This paper explores the gendered nature of the EU Referendum Campaigns and the impact of gender framings in the campaign rhetoric on determining the position of gender equality policies in Brexit negotiations. Considering the EU is widely accepted as a gender actor, particularly in the context of employment policy, the marginality of these issues in the debate reflect a hierarchy in the value attributed to different policy areas that crystallizes the high-low politics binary.

European led initiatives have undoubtedly changed the nature of equality policies in the Member States. European Directives and Regulations have created a safety net that safeguards women’s access and position in the labour market, whereas soft policy measures provided opportunities for norm diffusion and transfer of best practice. Recent studies have also outlined how, and to what extent, EU policy contributes to shifts in gender regimes, gender policy and gender relations at the national level (Lombardo & Forrest, 2012; Annesley & Scheele, 2011).

Women in the UK have benefited greatly from membership of the EU/EEC in as far as it expedited the ratification of equal pay legislation in the early 1970s and provided a framework for the expansion of maternity rights in the 1990s (Guerrina, 2005; Caracciolo di Torrella & Masselot, 2010). The Brexit referendum therefore provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the relationship, and patterns of influence, between European and national legislation.