Vilana Pilinkaitė Sotirovič Vita Kontvainė


This article aims at examining policy discourses and institutional practices to implement gender equality in the local governance following the legal obligation, enshrined in the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2013) and Labour Code (2016). Additionally, it seeks to reveal the interpretations about the meaning of gender equality and its implementation processes in specific local contexts. The analysis is based on the empirical material of qualitative research completed in 2017-2018. Specifically, strategic documents in 10 selected municipalities were analysed and interviews with mayors, directors of administration and representatives of the departments of education and social services and gender equality coordinators were conducted. By applying discourse analysis as a methodological approach, the study examined the meanings of the concept of gender equality and their interpretations. This approach allowed investigation into the gendering processes of the policy making, namely fixing, shrinking, stretching and/or bending of gender equality goals on local level. Additionally, the discourse analysis helped identifying the cultural filters, which provide insights into interpretations about support and/or obstacles for gender policies in local governance (Lombardo, Meier, Verloo, 2010). The results of the analysis suggest the persistence of gender-neutrality as the key principle articulated in the policies of local government and indicators of their implementation. Nevertheless, gendering politics in municipalities materializes by fixing gender equality goals in policy documents and shrinking them to the legal principals of non-discrimination, stretching to equal opportunities or bending to the other policy fields such as youth, aging or disability. This article contributes to the understanding of meanings of gender equality in local contexts in which the municipal actors articulate and (re)produce the normative perception about the traditional gender order and norms.