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From inclusion to influence: How should women’s organisations engage in policy?

October 23, 2015 at 8:33 AM

From inclusion to influence: How should women’s organisations engage in policy? - Workshop - Auckland - 25 Nov 2015

When: Wednesday 25 November 2015, 1-2.30pm

Where: Auckland Women's Centre, 4 Warnock Street, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Organised by Auckland Women's Centre

Free. All welcome. Please RSVP by email

Rachel Simon-Kumar, PhD, Senior Lecture, School of Population Health, University of Auckland will present a workshop based on her research with a range of women's organisations around the country.


Women’s and gender organisations in New Zealand, like the rest of the community sector, capitalised on opportunities to engage with government as part of a move to “include” community in policymaking in the last decade. While governmental rhetoric emphasises trusting and open relationships, the reality of engagement for organisations is complex. This research is based on the qualitative empirical analyses of interviews with over 30 representatives of community organisations, activists, scholars and policymakers and identifies the factors that facilitate (or inhibit) community groups’ influence while “engaging” with government. 

The paper highlights key characteristics that enable community organizations to have influence: autonomy, legitimacy, strategic development and discursive alignment with the state’s discourses. Overall, the analysis points out there are new opportunities of influence created by the inclusive agenda, on the one hand, yet, the nature of unequal power relationships strain ongoing collaborations between the women’s sector and the state. The paper makes suggestions about how community can best make use of inclusive policymaking under these circumstances.