Playing Their Part? Parliamentary Institutions and Gender Mainstreaming

27 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2014

See all articles by Marian Sawer

Marian Sawer

Australian National University (ANU)

Sonia Palmieri


Lenita Freidenvall

Stockholm University

Date Written: March 21, 2013


Since the 1990s there has been a proliferation of specialised parliamentary bodies with a remit to promote gender equality and these have increasingly been viewed as having a significant role to play in gender mainstreaming. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has strongly encouraged this development and since 2006 has regularly surveyed parliaments and collated data relating to such bodies. By February 2013 the IPU had data on some 100 parliamentary bodies dealing with gender equality, focusing on standing committees and women’s caucuses. Case studies of other types of body, such as gender-focused all-party parliamentary groups were also beginning to emerge.

Our aim in this paper is threefold: to outline the theoretical and empirical arguments for paying more attention to such parliamentary institution building; to provide a global overview and comparison of such bodies; and to provide case studies of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish and European Parliaments. The paper will begin with the case for parliamentary institution building. It will then examine existing parliamentary bodies specialising in gender equality in terms of their structure, membership, mandate, working methods, and internal and external relationships. The in-depth case studies will analyse and compare the roles of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament and the Speaker’s Reference Group for Gender Equality Issues in the Swedish Parliament.

Keywords: Specialised parliamentary bodies, gender mainstreaming, feminist institution-building

Suggested Citation

Sawer, Marian and Palmieri, Sonia and Freidenvall, Lenita, Playing Their Part? Parliamentary Institutions and Gender Mainstreaming (March 21, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Marian Sawer (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

Sonia Palmieri

Independent ( email )

Lenita Freidenvall

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91

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