Politics of Engagement: Gender Expertise and International Governance
This article studies the experiences of gender experts in international institutions of governance and examines their interactions with multiple actors in the governance system as they negotiate their authority to act as experts. Moving beyond binaries, such as those on the inside of hegemonic institutions versus those on the outside, or co‐optation versus activism, the analysis uses processes of instrumentalization as a vantage point to lay out the multiple paths emerging in these politics of engagement. The article frames politics of engagement in terms of micropolitical tensions, ambivalences and contradictions that unfold in these interactions. It first argues that the boundaries that exist between inside and outside institutions are not clear cut because actors circulate between them. The study shows how gender experts instrumentalize their own life and career trajectories, navigating between advocacy and governance, to enhance their power in current institutional settings. It then focuses on instrumentalist discourses and traces their emergence in unequal negotiations. It demonstrates how gender experts can become part of the processes that they also critique. Finally, the study analyses strategies in which experts instrumentalize institutional inequalities to their advantage to produce diverse political possibilities with open‐ended outcomes.