Finally, global feminism calls for states to shift their formal policy and everyday practice. An essential part of linking gender violence with human rights is to hold states accountable for punishing and penalizing perpetrators of violence against women as well as for providing social assistance to victims so that they can escape and recover from violence. States’ commitment is revealed in public policy, state procedures, and institutions that make gender violence a crime, require official attention to it, create social policy to alleviate the consequences or the conditions leading to it, or establish credible initiatives to prevent gender violence in the fu­ture. These formal changes must also matter for the practice of police, prosecu­tors, lawyers, judges, social workers, and healthcare providers. This second step is incredibly important for most countries, such as Russia, with little history of the rule of law—where legislation can have little meaning.

For this global feminist objective, intervention is seen as effectual when inter­ventions promote reform of both policy and practice. Do interventions support local activists’ lobbying for reform? Can and do interventions allow external ac­tors to bypass locals and directly advance positive reforms? Does intervention lead states to address gender violence as a violation of women’s human rights? Or does intervention compel other states to promote only the illusion that they re­spond to gender violence?

For all three global feminist objectives—mobilization, awareness, and respon­siveness—I assess the interventions as successful, from the perspective of global feminists, when a substantial part of the sought changes have been achieved, when the interventions occurred prior to the changes, and when no more credi­ble explanation exists for these changes (Pape 1997, 97).

Comparing Foreign Interventions

The global feminist consensus on violence against women created new opportu­nities for all sorts of foreign interventions beyond what global feminists might have imagined. The new global feminist consensus itself, articulated in key in­ternational documents, shifts the global social structure by formalizing new global norms against gender violence. These norms can then be appropriated and translated by local activists, giving them some international cachet and per­haps new and powerful ways to articulate their demands locally (Merry 2006a). These norms were also sponsored by the new organizing force of the global femi­nist movement, transnational feminist networks (Moghadam 2005), the feminist form of what Keck and Sikkink (1998) called “transnational advocacy networks.” Framing gender violence as human rights violations also brought alliances with human rights advocates, who in the late 1980s began to take responsibility for addressing violence against women in their activities. These advocates expanded their typical tactics, such as monitoring human rights abuses through extensive reports highlighting victim testimonies and then using these reports to “blame and shame” states for failure to meet international human rights standards. In addition to perhaps encouraging a state to shift its policy and practice, these in­terventions can promote women’s mobilization by legitimating their activities (Tarrow 2001).

Additionally, the global feminist consensus led to alliances with donors to provide assistance to women’s groups around the world. At first, the donors were those traditionally committed to feminist causes, giving fairly small and limited numbers of grants. Later, as part of their assistance designed to foster postcom­munist civil society, states’ international development agencies started funding organizations that addressed gender violence. This infusion of funds can provide women’s organizations with the necessary funds for survival, for new campaigns, and for the expansion in the number of organizations. Other funds can pay for training of law enforcement and other legal personnel, providing a direct avenue to shift state practice.

Finally, in some cases, states and intergovernmental agencies have taken on some global feminist objectives in their traditional diplomacy or even warfare. Foreign ministers from such states can persuade other states’ foreign ministers

blame and shame carrots




global international foreign threats sanctions military norms conventions assistance of no aid intervention


Responsiueness in Policy and Practice

least interventionist
-► most interventionist

that it is in their interest to adopt certain policies. States can also employ state­craft, including economic sanctions, or they can wrap their military interventions with the justifications of protecting women; one of the United States’ justifica­tions for military intervention in Afghanistan was to help the women in burkas. All these interventions—cloaked in the ideas of global feminism but not neces­sarily global feminist—can be placed on an intervention continuum (see table 1.1), from the least interventionist, the establishment of global norms, to the most coercive, military intervention.

These types of intervention also vary in the degree to which the process of de­signing and implementing the intervention includes those committed to global feminism. Drawing upon distinctions made by the subfield of feminist compara­tive policy theory (see Stetson 2002; Outshoorn 2004), I define descriptive repre­sentation as the inclusion of such global feminists in the intervention process and substantive representation as the meeting of a substantial part of global feminist objectives.6 Combining these leads to a two-by-two matrix of ideal-type interven­tions in which intervention can have either (preemption or cooptation), both (al­liance), or none (see table 1.2).