ABSTRACT

Over the last decades, gender equality norms have become an integral part of global governance institutions. Departing from this international success story-most recently manifested in the creation of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)—activists and scholars alike have been trying to figure out if the engendering of international institutions has translated into concrete legal, political and socio-economic change to the benefit of the world’s women. In a nutshell, the question is if international gender equality norms radiate into the world and how and under which conditions this is most likely to happen. This contribution focuses on one piece of international governance to investigate this question, namely the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW or Women’s Rights Convention), because it has been the cornerstone of the international women’s rights discourse for over 30 years and because the concreteness of its procedure offers itself for an actor-and context-specific analysis. The chapter consists of three parts: It first provides a theoretical

framework that helps to understand processes of norm translation. Contrary to the mainstream of norm diffusion literature that often takes a one-directional look at norms as globally produced and domestically implemented, norm translation is conceptualized as an open process of negotiation in which various actors in international, transnational, national and local contexts are involved. Accordingly, the framework developed here identifies three relevant dynamics of “traveling norms”

which I call global discourse translation, impact translation, and distorted translation. The following empirical section focuses on the first dynamic-global discourse translation-in respect to the CEDAWConvention: It gives an overview of CEDAW’s creation, the functioning of its state-centered monitoring body, and the contribution of non-state actors to its monitoring procedure. I concentrate on the dynamic of global discourse translation here because on the one hand, it shows the “incompleteness” or ongoing contention regarding the content and legitimacy of gender equality norms on the international level. On the other hand, it is a prime case study of the feminist strategy of persuasion and connecting contexts. The concluding section discusses implications of my findings for strategies of norm translation reaching beyond the international level.1