Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 January 2020
The question of whether social movements can catalyze change has preoccupied researchers but an understanding of how such change can be created is equally important. Specifically, there has been little investigation of how women's movements engage in the process of implementation of women's rights laws. We use a case study of Ghana's Domestic Violence Coalition to examine the challenges that movements face in the policy implementation process. The Domestic Violence Coalition, a collective of women's rights organizations, was instrumental to the passage of Ghana's Domestic Violence Act in 2007. Our study investigates the coalition's subsequent attempts to influence the act's implementation. Drawing from the social movement literature, we apply an analytical framework consisting of three internal factors (strategies, movement infrastructure, and framing) and two external factors (political context and support of allies) that have mediated the coalition's impact on implementation. We find that changes in movement infrastructure are most significant in explaining the coalition's relative ineffectiveness, as these changes adversely affect its ability to employ effective strategies and take advantage of a conducive political context and the presence of allies. This article advances the literature on rights advocacy by women's movements by analyzing the challenge of translating success in policy adoption to implementation and explaining why women's movements may have less impact on implementation processes.
The authors thank members of the Domestic Violence Coalition and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection who generously shared their time and experience in many interviews over seven years. They would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor.