Feminist critical friends: Dilemmas of feminist engagement with governance and gender reform agendas

Louise Chappell, Fiona Mackay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article advances the concept of feminist ‘critical friends’ to understand the work of gender justice advocates in institutions of global governance. We suggest that this concept neatly captures the aspirations and dilemmas for many such engaged feminist academics and researchers who are ‘entangled’ with international organisations as well as the feminist bureaucrats, legislators and jurists who work on the inside as ‘outsiders within’ in efforts to ‘re-gender’ powerful social, economic, military and political institutions. This article sketches out what the concept of feminist critical friendship in the context of global governance might mean, including the small wins and acts against the gendered, institutional, and political odds. Aside from defining what we mean by critical friends, we also outline motivations to develop the concept and why we consider it useful, especially for those interested in better understanding the operation of gender actors and gender rules. The article also considers the question of how to engage in and study critical friendship, before outlining a preliminary typology, defining who we see critical friends to be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321 - 340
JournalEuropean Journal of Politics and Gender
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • feminist critical friends
  • feminist institutionalism
  • co-optation and resistance
  • institutional change
  • global governance
  • governance feminism


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