By Barbara Einhorn; Palgrave Connect (Online service)

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German government ministries are required (albeit with inadequate financial and personnel 36 Citizenship in an Enlarging Europe resources) both to ‘mainstream’ gender in every department and in every policy instrument, and to prioritize and support affirmative action schemes for women. This positive approach is hampered by two factors. First, gender mainstreaming as understood here is solely geared to labour market needs. Only one of five definitional clauses actually mentions equal opportunities and the need for improvements in work–life balance.

The key to adequate resources for the full implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies is political support at the highest Strategies for Gender Equity 41 levels (Rai, 2003: 34, 37). Yet Zuzana Jezerska argues that in most Central and Eastern European countries, political will is precisely what is lacking. This explains ‘the rather patchy growth of women’s national machineries’ in the region (Jezerska, 2003: 182). Such unevenness in part results from the widespread belief among politicians and the public that gender equality already exists as a relic of state socialist legislation and policy.

Quotas seem to many feminists from the region to smack of the undemocratic manipulation of the political process by the previous regimes through the installation of puppet ‘representatives’ in parliaments, whose job it was merely to rubber-stamp decisions taken elsewhere, that is in the Central Committees and Politburos of the ruling Communist Parties (with women notably absent from those higher echelons of political power) (Einhorn, 1993; Jezerska, 2003: 171). 4 Women activists in Georgia, Latvia and Poland, for example, now advocate the adoption of quotas for women as the necessary short-term strategy for achieving some level of critical mass of women, and thus as a mechanism for the achievement of gender 26 Citizenship in an Enlarging Europe equality in parliaments and legislatures.

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