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Gendering Public Policy or Rationalizing Gender? Strategic Interventions and GBA+ Practice in Canada

  • Francesca Scala (a1) and Stephanie Paterson (a1)


The debate surrounding the transformative potential of gender mainstreaming has revived concerns of co-optation of equality work and resistance first expressed by early feminist public administration scholars. In this article, we explore how gender analysts exercised their agency and carved out spaces within the bureaucracy to articulate and advance a gender focus in policy work. Employing discursive, institutional and relational strategies, gender analysts simultaneously used and pushed back against hierarchical bureaucratic discourses as they operationalized Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the federal public bureaucracy. These micro-level acts of resistance, on their own, do not lead to social transformation. However, by creating spaces for feminist knowledge and activism within the state, these local strategies can contribute to the broader feminist agenda.

Le débat entourant le potentiel transformateur de l’égalité des sexes a ravivé les inquiétudes de cooptation du travail en matière d’égalité des sexes et de la résistance exprimée en tout premier lieu par les premiers spécialistes féministes de l’administration publique. Dans cet article, nous examinons comment les analystes des questions de genre ont exercé leur potentiel et créé des espaces dans l’appareil bureaucratique afin d’articuler et de faire avancer l’égalité entre les sexes dans le travail sur les politiques. En employant des stratégies discursives, institutionnelles et relationnelles, les analystes des questions de genre ont utilisé et contesté simultanément les discours bureaucratiques hiérarchiques en traduisant en termes opérationnels l’Analyse comparative entre les sexes plus (ACS+) dans l’appareil public fédéral. Ces actes de résistance à un micro-niveau ne conduisent pas, en eux-mêmes, à une transformation sociale. Toutefois, en créant des espaces propices à la connaissance féministe et à l’activisme au sein de l’État, ces stratégies locales peuvent contribuer au plan d’action féministe plus élargi.


Corresponding author

Department of Political Science, Concordia University, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal QC, H3 G 1M8, email:
Department of Political Science, Concordia University, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, Quebec H3 G 1M8, email:


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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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