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Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization by Patricia Yancey Martin, David Knights,, Emma L Jeanes

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Chapter 21

International Organizations and the Organization of Gender

Alison E. Woodward

Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The global order is a gendered order where organizations and individuals operate at multiple levels to shape our lives. The economy, polity, and civil society are increasingly organized beyond the boundaries of the nation-state by international and transnational organizations ranging from Coca Cola and the European Union (EU) to Greenpeace. Raewyn Connell (2008) argues that such organizations should be examined because they are both the product of gender relations and the producer of gender effects through multilevel and complex interactions. Connell’s call for a gendered analysis of the multiplex of global institutions is only beginning to be followed (Hearn, 2004; Rai and Waylen, 2008). There is some attention to gender in multinational enterprises, but the powerful international political organizations often escape the gendered lens.

It is particularly worthwhile to concentrate on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). As associations of countries, they act as supra-states to shape norms and produce policies that constrain and form markets, define peace and security, and proclaim universal values of human rights. Virtually no area of life escapes being monitored and regulated by one or another IGO. We should address them in gendered terms ‘if we want . . . to prevent war and genocide, to slow down global warming, to pursue social ...

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