Kara Ellerby


Kara Ellerby  (Department of Political Science and International Relations, and Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Delaware) 

Kara Ellerby is an assistant professor. Her research focuses on global gender norms, including policies promoting women in government, women’s economic rights, and violence against women. In her work, Ellerby challenges liberal feminist policy and norm diffusion by focusing on the problematic ways “women” and “gender” have become interchangeable terms in the global policy arena. She also works on women’s peacebuilding and the practical application of UNSC 1325 to post-conflict settings. She earned her PhD in political science from the University of Arizona.


MDG 3 Gender Equality: The limits of adding women

One of the key aspects of MDG 3 and the promotion of “gender equality” is the promotion of women in public office. As states continue to pass gender quotas and increasingly promote women in the executive and judicial branches, it appears that states are working harder than ever before to increase women’s representation. But despite increased adoption of gender quotas and women’s policy agencies, women still account worldwide for only 20 percent of members of parliament, one in ten heads of state, and one in three judges. By engaging a critical feminist lens of “gender equality” and efforts to promote women, this paper explores the paradox of an increase in inclusive policies and the persistent exclusion of women. This critique focuses on the ways in which gender has become synonymous with women and equality now means fairly low thresholds of inclusion. The paper also analyzes how these phenomena shape the implementation of policies to promote women. By focusing on informal practices and beliefs, the pervasive gender binaries informing such policies, and the lack of intersectional practices, this paper seeks to offer a counter-narrative of gender equality to re-frame the liberal feminist logics and limits of efforts to increase women’s representation.  

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