Research that considers how institutions and processes are gendered

The Gender and Governance research program will undertake research that considers how institutions and processes are gendered. It is dedicated to the study of the institutions and processes that examine the political participation of women in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. It covers diverse areas of research with several current projects underway.

Political participation and political engagement are gendered processes.  From women’s representation in parliament and political parties; to women’s participation in peace processes; and women’s participation in transitional justice, the program focuses on the conditions that promote gender equitable political representation and policy. Institutional, social, and economic barriers to women’s participation in politics continue in both developing and developed economies.  Gender still determines who sits in parliament, who fights in conflict, and who decides the terms of justice.

Program Leaders:  Elizabeth van Acker and Sara Davies

External grants

Program participants have received external research funding

50 / 50 TARGETS

Elizabeth van Acker and Linda Colley are researching the current barriers to reaching a 50/50 target in political parties and the election process.

Liz is also beginning a new project that explores feminist values that confronts many challenges in gender scholarship and practice.  Ranging from anti-feminism resistance and populism to changing institutions and campaigns such as #metoo, politics is unstable but also offers opportunities for supporting change. This builds on her book Marriage and Values in Public Policy: Conflicts in the UK, the US and Australia.


How do peace processes advance women’s rights? What are the optimal conditions that enable women’s participation in peace processes? In partnership with Monash University Gender, Peace and Security, Sara Davies is a co-Chief Investigator on ARC Linkage Project, Towards Inclusive Peace, Sara Davies is conducting in-depth fieldwork with local stakeholders in Myanmar and the Philippines to investigate the economic, social, and political conditions that enable or constrain women’s participation in peace processes.

Through the partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Linkage project has the opportunity to utilise in-depth case studies to support and engage consular delivery of assistance in aid programs in fragile and conflict affected states, as well as inform targeted aid delivery that supports women’s voice, agency and leadership.


In a recent article with International Feminist Journal of Politics, Ceridwen Spark and CGPP Fellow, Jack Corbett, study existing explanations for why women do not get elected to parliament in Melanesia. Drawing on an extensive qualitative dataset, including forty in-depth interviews with emerging women leaders from three Melanesian countries, they find that many women are pessimistic about the way electoral politics are conducted. Echoing longstanding critiques of political practice, the women leaders see their political activity as being conducted in a parallel public sphere, in contexts in which they consider themselves better able to pursue programmatic reform.


Women and youth disproportionately bear the burden of conflict, yet historically they have been marginalised by post conflict practices. Caitlin Mollica’s work examines youth’s engagement with transitional justice and human rights mechanisms. Her recent publication examines the diverse identities occupied by Solomon Islander youth during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She also explores the unique ways that girls and young women experience conflict and instability and the inherently gendered nature of international peacebuilding programs. She highlights young female peacebuilders’ leadership capacity and contributions to peace through grassroots and civil society movements. Currently, Caitlin is developing a project that interrogates the intersections of the Women Peace and Security and Youth Peace and Security agendas, and explores the synergies and tensions between them.


Exploring the ways intersectional feminism can be combined with creative design and technology to achieve outcomes for gender equality across government, business and society. Specific projects include working with the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security to create a platform for influencing the Australian Federal Government regarding United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, particularly in light of the development of Australia's second National Action Plan.

Other projects include working with the National Council of Women of Australia, Working Women's Centres across NT, SA and QLD, Violence Prevention Network, and Country Women's Association - using technology to increase gender equality & women's empowerment projects nationally and internationally.

Elise also has a personal blog that can be accessed here.

Read more here

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