This book asks what strategies women’s movements can employ to induce law and policy changes at the national level that will assist women’s equality without sacrificing their feminist energy, movement cohesiveness and core feminist commitments. The book takes up this question in order to emphasize the need not only to recognize the accomplishments of women’s movements through political participation, but also to analyze the process through which feminist organizations interact with formal politics. It examines the institutionalization of the Korean women’s movement under the progressive presidencies of Kim Dae Jung (1998-2002) and Roh Moo Hyun (2003-2007), focusing on three major pieces of legislation concerning women’s rights that were enacted during this time, and looks at the process of gender politics and the strategic bargains that needed to be made between the women’s movement and other political forces in order to advance their agenda. It questions whether the institutionalization of the women’s movement inevitably results in demobilization and deradicalization, and goes on to examine the relationship between the women’s movement and the government over the two most women-friendly administrations in South Korean history, a period marked by flourishing civil society activism and participatory democracy.
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