The relationship between gender and governance has too often been neglected in both theoretical and empirical work. Until very recently, most influential political thought has been built around a conceptual distinction between the “public” realm of politics, military affairs, and administration, and the “private” realm of family and domestic life. Women’s role, in a wide range of traditions and in theoretical work influenced by them, has typically been associated with the “private” realm, and men’s role with the“public” realm. The public/private distinction has been thoroughly criticized as being in many ways misleading and untenable.Nonetheless, it continues to influence both theoretical and empirical work, with the result that women’s efforts to gain a voice ingovernance have often been ignored.
These papers aim to set the record straight. They advance a theoretical structure, both positive and normative, within which the question of gendered governance may usefully be pursued.They also analyze some current developments that indicate many ways in which women are actively participating in governance, in both government and the institutions of civil society, and the obstacles that remain.