Contesting global gender equality norms: the case of Turkey

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Un M. B.

REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, vol.45, pp.828-847, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 45
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s026021051900024x
  • Page Numbers: pp.828-847
  • Keywords: Norm Contestation, Non-Western Norm Entrepreneurs, Postsecular Feminism, Gender Equality, Gender Justice, Turkey, SECULAR WORLD, AGENCY, RESISTANCE, POLITICS, LOCALIZATION, TRANSLATION, DIFFUSION, DEMOCRACY, ISLAMIST, FEMINISM


Over the past two decades, constructivist International Relations (IR) scholars have produced substantial knowledge on the diffusion and adoption of global norms, emphasising the role of Western norm entrepreneurs in constructing and promoting new norms to passive, generally non-Western, norm takers. An emergent literature on norm dynamics unsettles this narrative of linear progress, highlighting the agency of diverse actors, including the agency of non-Western norm entrepreneurs, in normative change. This article contributes to this recent norm research by exploring the normative agency of local actors in the Turkish context, who have actively engaged in normative contestation over the meaning of gender equality. More specifically, the article reveals the crucial role of a pro-government, conservative women's organisation in subverting global gender equality norms and in promoting a local norm of 'gender justice' as an alternative. The article furthers research on norm contestation by analysing the discursive strategies and justifications local norm makers have adopted in the Turkish context upon encountering norms that challenged their normative beliefs and practices. Finally, the article critically engages with postsecular feminism, highlighting the agency of a religiously informed, conservative women's organisation as a non-Western norm entrepreneur.