Gender Inequality Strategy Paper
Why a strategy paper?
Your studies are supposed to prepare you for jobs in governmental organizations, public administrations, the private or the third sector. In many of these jobs you will have to develop, implement or evaluate strategies designed to tackle a particular problem. Writing a strategy paper will help you to strengthen your problem-solving skills, and thus contribute to increasing your employability. Research question
The question for your strategy papers is always the same: “How to tackle gender inequality in issue area X in country Y?” The questions only vary with respect to the issue area and the country you choose. Imagine you are an external adviser to a government, an international organization or an NGO, which asked you to recommend a strategy to address the problem. Also try a change of perspective: What would you like and need to know if you were working in a government/international organization/NGO that wants to address the problem in a particular country?
Strategies for selecting an issue area and country
You can exclusively go with your personal interests, or you consult the indices we were talking about at the beginning of the module, or other sources, such as international organizations. You also find web links to helpful resources on Blackboard (in the resources sections on each session). If you are already interested in a particular country but undecided concerning the issue area, you could look up information on that country, for example in the indices, to find out in which field gender inequality in that particular country is especially severe, and vice versa (interested in a particular issue area, e.g. political representation, but undecided concerning the country).
Which additional information do you need?
The strategy paper should be based on a solid background research on the particular problem in the country chosen (e.g. political representation in the UK; violence against women in
Pakistan; …) as well as on the academic debate about the particular problem (e.g. women/gender and political representation; violence against women;). You need countryspecific information for several reasons: to define the problem, to discuss its specific causes and possible solutions, as well as possible drawbacks or challenges posed by these solutions (also against the background of the specific political context of the country chosen), and to evaluate what kind of (problem-solution) strategies the respective state already has tried. (It does not make much sense to suggest the introduction of a particular quota system if such a system already is in place, or to suggest the legal criminalization of domestic violence if that already exists. However, there might be legislation or policies in place which lack appropriate implementation. In such a case, your strategy could suggest ways to improve implementation.) In order to define the problem, it is in most cases also useful to provide statistical data (e.g. on the share of women in government, the prevalence of violence against women, etc.).
In addition to country-specific information, you need information on the more general research on the issue area you are dealing with in order to decide what strategies might work in a particular context and who useful allies could be to enforce that strategy. (The more general literature on gender and political representation, for example, demonstrates that gender quotas are a ‘fast track’ to increased representation but also discusses their drawbacks as well as alternative approaches to increase the political representation of women. The more general literature on violence against women, for instance, deals with the definition of different forms of violence, their causes and with possible ways of combating it.) In order to argue for a particular strategy – and, as appropriate, rule others out – it is helpful if you can demonstrate either that in other contexts elements of your strategy have proven to be successful or that it has been discussed in the general literature on the topic as useful strategy. This literature might also provide you with ideas on what possible drawbacks of a particular strategy could be and how to deal with these drawbacks. The literature in the Module Handbook and Reading List provides you with a solid basis in that regard. However, searching for additional literature might be useful as well. How to structure the strategy paper
Basically, the strategy paper is structured similarly to an essay. It starts with an introduction which gives a concise overview of the whole paper: What is the question/problem, why is it a problem, what strategy is proposed, how is the paper structured? After reading the introduction, the reader should already know what the strategy is about. Basically, it is an executive summary of the paper.
The main body then provides the details and evidence that support the problem definition and suggested solution. The main body should be divided in several sub-sections which deal with the following questions (not necessarily in the same order as given below, the structure of the paper depends on the ‘flow’ of your argument):
- Problem definition: What is the problem? How exactly does it look like? Why is it a problem? Why is it relevant to address this problem? What are the main causes of the problem? (The last question, though, could also be discussed in the section where you propose and discuss the strategy if the strategy is based on directly addressing these causes; whether you discuss the causes here or later depends on the ‘flow’ of your argument.) Be as specific as possible in defining and explaining the problem in the country you are dealing with. This will provide a clear basis on which you can build a focused strategy.
- Specification of the elements of your strategy: What do you suggest to do? Why do you think this strategy is particularly useful in the context of the country you are dealing with? Has it, for example, proven to be successful in other contexts or is it discussed in the more general literature on the topic as a useful strategy? A complete strategy includes a description of goals, target groups, potential allies, and instruments. Again, be as specific as possible.
The paper ends with a short concluding section which briefly summarizes your main arguments. It might also conclude with a few reflections on how and by/with whom the proposed strategy could be implemented in the particular country or how to deal with particular challenges. However, these considerations could also already be part of the strategy itself. In that case, the paper just concludes with the summary.