Unintended gender consequences: EU politics and politics in practice

This project was in partnership with leading gender scholars. The aim of the network was to support critical work in the field of gender and European Union politics.

Start date

May 2012

End date

April 2014


This research project specifically sought to: 

  • Develop a theoretical framework for feminist European Union studies
  • Understand the unintended gender consequences of mainstream EU policies
  • Integrate a gender perspective to the study of EU politics and policies. 

Several studies examined how, and to what extent EU policy contributes to shifts in national gender regimes, gender policy and gender relations. These studies considered the changes in national policy and the manner in which these may have been precipitated by European policy shifts and/or activism in other member states or at the EU level.

This network contributed to ongoing discussions about the value and impact of gender mainstreaming as a policy tool. It aimed to establish contact with key practitioners and sought to raise awareness of institutional drivers that limit the impact of gender policies at the European and national level. 

The network engaged both in a theoretical exploration of intended and unintended consequences, therefore establishing an analytical framework for the comparison of different policy areas. 

The work conducted in this area highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in policy analysis looking at the constraints and opportunities available to practitioners to explore and take account of all the possible repercussions of a particular policy approach.

Equally the work undertaken by the network drew attention to the measures that can be used in order to minimise the gendered impact of key policy areas such as economic and fiscal policy as well as external relations. This is a critical assessment of the 'unintended' or indirect consequences of European policy on domestic gender regimes and gender relations. We examined this in policy areas which are generally believed to fall outside 'women's policy'.

This critical evaluation thus enabled knowledge transfer in the area of gender mainstreaming and the development of empirical projects exploring the implementation of these principles in a variety of other policy areas.




  • Gill Allwood, Nottingham Trent University
  • Nicole Busby, Strathclyde University, UK
  • Yvonne Gallighan, Queens Belfast
  • Grace James, Reading University, UK
  • Emanuela Lombardo, Madrid University, Spain
  • Heather McRae, York University, Canada
  • Elaine Weiner, McGill University, Canada.


  • Special issue of Women Studies International Forum on unintended gender consequences of EU policies
  • Two panels at European Conference for Politics and Gender 2013
  • Year 1 workshop at CRonEM conference 2013
  • Panels at UACES Annual Conference 2012 and 2013

Research groups and centres

Our research is supported by research groups and centres of excellence.

Centre for Britain and Europe