• Helene Hastrup Jensen
In a world where gender equality has become a common topic within all sectors of society, it is due to affect decision-making one way or the other. Inclusion and gender equality are interrelated concepts, the former leading to the latter in most cases, and work with social norms at multiple levels of society. However, the social norms favoring gender equality do not emerge out of noth-ing. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a significant role in altering, creating, and distributing social norms and can thus act as agents of change. Social norms and assumptions tied to gender are culturally embedded, and confusion about an organization’s level of gender inclusion can emerge when one of the binary genders is emphasized, e.g., in the name. This is the case for the global organizations Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), which both actively work to promote and implement gender equality in their activities. Because of the similarities of these two organizations' ideologies, there are cases where they have joined on a national level into one organization, which helps to alleviate the confusion of who is welcome and who is not. This makes one wonder why there are not more national organizations that have joined into one, considering the impact NGOs have on social norms and the effect these, as well as inclusion, have on gender equality.
This thesis research was conducted as a qualitative case study with Denmark, which has one joint organization, as the country of comparison. It investigates four of the Danish organi-zation’s international partners based on primary data from interviews and field work, as well as secondary data from online documents, to allow triangulation. The study uses institutional theory and legitimacy theory to investigate the foundation for legitimately joining the two organizations within different cultural contexts concerning gender equality through inclusion. Structured by three research questions, the study first analyzes the regulative foundation for legitimacy for join-ing the two organizations within the four partner countries. Secondly, it analyzes the foundation for normative and cultural-cognitive legitimacy for joining the two organizations in the two organ-izations. Lastly, in the instance of joining the two organizations in each partner country, some rel-evant considerations and strategic recommendations are provided from a multilevel legitimacy perspective. The study finds that, in most cases, a foundation for legitimacy can be identified and angled strategically in the instance of joining the two organizations to further gender equality through inclusion. However, in one case, there is little to no foundation to be found for legitimate-ly joining the two organizations with this goal, as gender-unequal practices are too culturally em-bedded and reinforced by social norms and cultural expectations. Cultural context is always im-portant to consider when doing this type of research. Nevertheless, it is not necessarily a barrier as much as it is an opportunity to enlighten and engage in more conscious conduct.
SpecialisationGlobal Gender Studies
Publication dateMay 2023
Number of pages69
ID: 532270772