Gender Equality – A Feel Good Norm?: Divergence between Rhetoric and Practice in the EU's Development Policy towards the Pacific Islands
As one of the world’s largest donors, the European Union provides development assistance to the Pacific Island Countries. At the same time, the EU actively promotes its own values and principles toward the Island Countries as part of the development cooperation with the region. In taking on the role of a norm promoter, the EU promotes its core values in the Pacific region such as democracy, good governance, the rule of law, and also gender equality. The Union is committed the promotion of equal treatment and equal opportunities for women and men. The norm is emphasised and promoted in all development strategies for the Pacific region and in the agreements with the Island countries. But how committed is the EU to gender equality when it comes to the active promotion of the norm in the development projects for the Pacific Islands? This thesis investigates the divergence between the EU’s rhetoric and practice when it comes to the promotion of gender equality in its development policy towards the Pacific region. An analysis of the Union’s rhetoric promotion of gender equality and practical support of the norm in the development projects for the Pacific region provides clear evidence for a gap between the EU’s intentions and reality. Whereas the norm is actively promoted throughout the EU’s strategies and agreements with the Pacific region, gender equality is neglected in the plans for most of the development projects. This thesis argues that the successful promotion of gender equality is hindered by internal and external barriers as well as the EU’s fragmented composition into different units and actors, that pursue a policies based on norms as well as for interest-related reasons. The identified divergence between the EU’s intentions and reality has a crucial impact on its role as a norm promoter: it undermines its power as a normative actor and its legitimacy to shape the concept of normal.