Explaining The Institutional Capacity Of State Feminism In A Non-Western Setting: A Case Study of the Malaysian Women's Policy Agency

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Rabi'Ah Aminudin


This thesis explores the capacity of a state feminist institution in a non-Western setting in implementing gender empowerment initiatives. This study adopts a cross-cutting approach using state feminism and a feminist institutional analytical lens especially the idea of formal and informal rules, to develop a dynamic analysis of the factors that shape the capacity of a state feminist institution in a post-colonial context. This research uses a holistic single case study to analyse the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development in Malaysia by examining four key determinants: 1) institutional structure, 2) resources, 3) relationship/network and 4) the WPA's policies implementation (as shaped by the institutional structure, resources, and relationship) to assess the Ministry's capacity. This research highlights the variance of capacity level of the Women's Policy Agency in Malaysia has in the implementation of gender empowerment initiatives within its institutional environment. The WPA demonstrates competency in specific areas of gender empowerment programmes especially economic empowerment but is often constrained in their ability to navigate through a gendered state institution which is highly centralised and strongly hierarchical. Masculinised political culture and institutional socio-religious perspective on gender roles also play a part in weakening the Ministry's capacity in pushing for gender empowerment initiatives that challenge the conservative outlook of gender roles in society. .This study explores the strengths and constraints of state feminism in Malaysia using feminist institutionalism analytical tools of formal and informal rules as the dynamic interaction between the formal and informal rules in a diverse, developing and semi-democratic context characterise the WPA's capacity within its institutional setting. This thesis provides important insights on the conditions that shape the WPA's capacity and alternative understanding of state feminism in a non-Western context, and thereby, provides guidance for gender policy advocates and future practices.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2016