Seize the Day: Gender Politics in Liberia's Transition to Peace and Democracy
Kindervater, Lisa Dawn
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This case study investigates gender-sensitive institutional reforms in post-war Liberia. It applies key concepts developed by the Research Network on Gender Politics and the State to explore the extent to which the emergent theory of state feminism might be applicable to countries outside of the West. Preliminary findings suggest that Liberia is a feminist state insofar as both the women’s machinery and the Sirleaf Administration are allied with feminist and women’s movement actors outside the state, and that they grant these actors access to policymaking fora. Policy content also appears to reflect many of the goals identified by women’s movement actors. However, given the lack of state capacity and the degree of state penetration by international organizations, it is difficult to determine the drivers of ostensibly state-led gender equity initiatives in the country. Because multi-level governance is the norm in areas where the capacity of the state is severely circumscribed, this research introduces the concept of “supra-state feminism” to demonstrate the major limitation of state feminist theory in Liberia. This notion of feminist policy transfer in areas of limited statehood adds to the comparative literature on engendering political transitions in sub-Saharan Africa.