Assignment 2: Policy Analysis paper (4,000)
The purpose of this paper is to apply contemporary theoretical frameworks to a specific policy issue or problem. The aim of the paper is to use one of the policy theories outlined in class to analyse and evaluate a contemporary policy issue.
Key to developing sound theoretical analysis is to delve into the assumptions and implications of a policy problem and the current manner in which the policy is implemented. Developing your understanding of policy making is, in my view, enhanced by using theories of the policy process to gain insight into why we have the policies we do, why policies fail and perhaps, to help identify the conditions that enable policies to change.
Choose one policy theoretical framework from the list below:
Advocacy Coalition Framework, Multiple Streams Framework, Institutional Rational Choice framework, Punctuated – equilibrium theory.
The paper must include:
An outline the characteristics of the policy framework
Assignment 2: Policy Analysis paper
“Rights of Women” and Multiple Streams Framework
The idea of women’s empowerment has assumed prominence and public interest in national development and public policy among many societies, in part, due to the size of women in the populations and also as a result of concerted efforts of feminist movements to ensure equality in representation (Hildingsson et al., 2016). Women constitute a visible demographic whose concerns, interests and contributions ought to be front and centre of public policy processes by all societies. Additionally, advocates for the participation of empowered women also expect such policies to generate optimistic gains in the area of women’s issues or interests’ representation.
New Zealand, like many emerging democracies in the developing world, has seen the emergence of a new form of women's organization and participation in the agenda-setting and alternative specification stages of the public policy process. These groups tend to operate not based on any particular political ideology. Researchers who write about women's empowerment efforts in New Zealand variously focus on the historical, sociocultural, economic, and political implications of the evolutions in women's roles in society. The women’s movement in New Zealand is dominated by various civil society organizations and NGOs that represent the interests of women at all levels of public decision making (Kolawole, 2018).
The application of the Multiple streams framework (MS) in this study is an attempt to achieve several objectives: First, most of the factors and conditions deemed essential for civil society and gender-based groups to influence the public policy process as described by the framework are mostly captured and described by different researchers who write about the evolving roles of women in New Zealand’s political landscape (Schweiger et al., 2017). In this regard, there are those whose research endeavours trace the history of women’s growth in New Zealand. This describes women’s use of the media and journalism even during colonial days to help rid society of mythical aspects and appreciate the essential role played by women in all facets of the social and economic environment.
Others have focused on the cultural significance, human rights and women’s economic contributions to the overall national development of New Zealand. The activities of the women’s empowerment in New Zealand individually provide ingredients with which to carry out policy analysis to understand the efficacy of the policy system in New Zealand. Finally, the use of the MS framework in this paper is to show how the objectives, activities, resources, and contributions of gender-based civil society groups relate to the outcomes ad issues of their organization and participation in the public policy process especially in the last twenty years (Tronson & Keiser, 2019). Ultimately this study also provides an evaluation of the usefulness of MS framework as a tool for policy analysis in environments outside of the advanced democracies and in policy areas such as gender politics which have hitherto been outside the purview of analysts.
An outline of the characteristics of the policy framework
The reasoning behind the structured autocracies in the "garbage can" paradigm established by Cohen, March and Olsen (1972) is perhaps the foundation on which John Kingdon introduced the concept of “Multiple streams framework” to describe the mechanisms and trends in the setting of the policy agenda (Wals et al., 2019). Kingdon describes three process streams that he considers useful in developing or framing the political window: the problem stream in which information is found and described regarding various issues as well as their potential solutions; the policy stream consisting of potential solutions and alternate approaches to policy problems; and the policy stream consisting of decision-makers, other actors and inhibiting factors in the public policy environment. These streams and their Kingdon debates have relevance for the recognition, demarcation and review, as part of New Zealand's democratisation and growth processes and the policy of “Rights of women”, of the activities that gave momentum to women's groups and other civil society organisations (Wals et al, 2019).
Each of the policy streams is guided by different powers and appears to flow independent of one another, but government policies can pull the streams together at some important aspects of what Kingdon called pairing to control the development of the agenda and establish policy alternatives (Ray, 2020). Kingdon often speaks of opening a democratic window whether in the political streams or the issuing stream, however in the form of legislative proposals and alternatives provides the action potential. Kingdon argues that the difference between the processes is important because it gives an overview of how each stream’s dynamic features relate to the mechanism of agenda-setting (Ray, 2020).
A clear rationale for the choice of framework
The usefulness of using Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to analyse issues and activities of gender-based civil society organizations is in the important questions the framework generates (Ritter et al., 2018). For example, how separate are the streams in an emerging political environment? How do policy and political fragmentation or fusion affect policy communities? How can the deficiencies in the processes of generating policy alternatives be addressed? It is equally vital to acknowledge the relevance of these questions to civil society organizations especially in emerging democracies like New Zealand where public policy mostly emanates or originates from the executive branch.
Furthermore, the proliferation of civil society groups especially gender-based groups as part of the democratization process means policy alternatives can and do come out from different policy communities, in addition to the legislature. The participation and actions of gender-based civil society organisations provide the environment for the concept of solutions appropriate to prominent political parties and policymakers, enabling the issue and alternative streams to be integrated, which is a critical prerequisite in the context of agenda-setting (Shapiro et al., 2017).
The multiple streams framework, in the context of the current study, is more than a heuristic model because of its descriptive and predictive abilities. Critics of Kingdon’s model have argued that it is random and dependent on probabilities. However, the issues and activities of the gender-based civil society groups analysed in this paper show that some level of predictability underlies the framework (Ombagi, 2020). Familiarity with the political development New Zealand enables predicts how coupling comes about, and the possible participants. For instance, one can predict with some success which political party is likely to favour the participation of gender-based civil society groups in policy formulation. Even though the model may not be able to provide accurate predictions about the timing of events that prompt the participation, it is enough to determine the political climate that would be congenial for such activities to take place
An outline of the policy issue
Participating effectively and meaningfully to have an impact is a process of empowerment that enhances the self-worth of individuals and groups. Civil society and interest groups have always been part of the New Zealand political and socio-cultural development process. Even in the early years of political development and organization after Independence from colonial rule, New Zealand women played hugely significant roles to keep the internal solidarity, cohesion and success of political parties through their efficient organizing abilities (Pullon et al., 2019). Women’s organizing abilities helped political parties to achieve strong internal cohesion, solidarity and success during the struggle for independence. According to Bell et al. (2018), New Zealand women employed those same energies and attributes in the formation of women’s groups.
Notable groups and institutions include the National Council on Women and other groups include the Institute of Local Government Studies, the women Council of New Zealand and other development and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Women’s interest advocacy has seen a lot of success in the last twenty years. The areas where the women’s interest groups and their coalitions have made significant impacts in the public policy process include property and inheritance rights, domestic violence law, and women’s equality (MacArthur & Dumo, 2018).
Globally, analysts have considered the fourth United Nations international women’s meeting in Beijing in 1995 to be the most effective platform in recent years that have helped to propel women’s empowerment into prominence in public policy discussions (Burgess, 2019). The meeting added to the call by local and international advocacy groups, civil society generally, and feminists groups for increased opportunities for women to participate in public policy processes. The impact of the Beijing conference has also been felt in the New Zealand society just like the rest of the world where governments have committed to fighting violence against women and create laws that address equal rights and opportunities for women. Other researchers like Edwards et al. (2018) have argued that the long periods of military rule that were inimical to the women’s participation in government, also provided opportunities for elite women from the New Zealand society to learn the ways of political advocacy for empowerment and participation from their international counterparts.
Meanwhile, other factors listed for the enhanced women’s role and participation in the public sphere in New Zealand include the return to multi-party constitutional governance in 1992 and the guaranteed rights under the fourth republican constitution for freedom of association and expression (Hildingsson et al., 2016). The meaning of public participation especially for women in New Zealand has evolved over the years. In the 1950s and 1960s, women’s participation only consisted of party membership, voting, voluntary associations and protest movements. However, Kolawole (2017) state that, since the 1970s, participation has had a different meaning and tends to focus on those activities that directly or indirectly determine the composition of the government and the kinds of policy choices made by governments. As a result, participation now connotes a transformation process that empowers the masses to be able to conduct their analyses of events as part of representative democracy (Rights of Women, 2010).
To this end, Benton et al. (2018) say the new meanings also call for increased access to the property, educational institutions and opportunities for women to be active and functioning participants in development decision-making processes. Thus, women's empowerment encompasses gaining a voice, having mobility, gaining control over power structures, establishing a public presence and being an essential part of the power structure and power relations. The presence of these opportunities in society moves the discussions beyond women's participation in decision-making into making individuals aware of how women's interests relate to those of other members in society and how to arrive at collective decisions that are favourable to all (Obi et al., 2020).
Since returning to democratic governance in 1992, civil society groups in New Zealand have embarked on the collaborative organization that is unparalleled in the history of the nation to push for the advancement of women and their interests in the public policy process (Dixon et al., 2017). It is pertinent to note that by their organizational processes and the methods adopted to influence public policy in New Zealand in recent years, gender-based interest groups and their coalitions tend to have open membership and do not serve the interests of any particular political ideology, ethnic or regional group. The groups work to bring the attention of the public to issues, interests, and values that affect women and minorities generally (Obi et al., 2020). The programs and policies pursued by gender-based civil society groups in New Zealand cut across social policy, human rights protection, social interests and citizen empowerment. These groups can be considered, therefore, as multipurpose organizations. Additionally, the range of issues that the women’s groups tend to focus on leads one to conclude that gender-based disparities in New Zealand are more amorphous and flexible in their organizational set-up (Fraser et al., 2020).
A clear analysis of the issue using the characteristics of the policy framework
The problem Stream
The problem stream of the multiple streams system focuses on defining and specifying the spectrum of challenges and issues, and, on the other hand, potential solutions and approaches. Various policy areas include various policy supporters who organize evidence, create networks, accumulate capital to identify problems and use topic concepts to shape the framing of policy discussions to fulfil their employers' priorities and goals (Rights of women, 2010). To the extent that different individuals’ appreciation of a problem can vary according to their ideology and worldview, one’s ability to identify and define a problem will also be an indication of that individual's awareness of the policy field. The MS framework is a function of a combination of vital factors termed indicators, focusing events and feedback which have the power to influence and bring attention to an issue of concern (Mazhar, 2020).
The issue or challenge in the context of this paper is the empowerment of women and their inclusion in the public decision-making process in New Zealand. The women’s movement has been organizing and challenging the various political systems. Whyler et al. (2018) contend that as far back as in the early Twentieth century, New Zealand women in the media used their journalistic powers to bring the attention as a way to fight discrimination against women.
The women’s movement in New Zealand has gone through a serious metamorphosis. It all started when political systems and ideologies co-opted and prohibited the formation of any other women’s organization except the women’s wing of the “cohesion and success of political parties” (CPP). These conditions have made it possible for the women's movement to engage in the massive organization to, among other things, highlight the inadequacy of women in places where critical decisions are made that affect their livelihoods (Parker & Donnelly, 2020).
Locally, the current democracy in New Zealand as of today in its parliament has also brought with it a renewed impetus for the women’s movement and gender equality and empowerment advocates in New Zealand (Brower & James, 2020). Gender-based groups have been able to take advantage of the media plurality, for instance, to bring their agenda – the limited presence of women in higher places of public significance - to the attention of the general public. Essentially, not only has the focusing events of the return to democracy and the internationally-sponsored women’s meetings by the UN since 1975 provided bigger and higher platforms for women and women’s rights advocacy groups but these conferences have also served as useful focusing events (Brower & James, 2020). The women’s growth and empowerment in New Zealand also rely on key indicators such as the comparisons between the size of women in the national populations and the size of women in various decision-making environments such as the House of Parliament since independence and the most recent general election in 2008. But the picture has changed now as the New Zealand parliament has 46 women accounting for 38% of the total members (Johnson, 2016).
The indicators also show a disparity in women’s representation and participation. However, Phillips and Woodman (2020) contend that "participation", especially in politics, is synonymous to the existence of opportunities and avenues for citizens and citizen groups to express their views and concerns on issues in the public policy process. Even though women consistently make up almost half of the total population, women had hardly constituted 38 per cent of the legislature at any time in New Zealand fifty years as a sovereign nation. The women’s movement and their advocacy groups have been able to relate the disparities in representation especially of women in public policy processes to the lack of support for women’s issues or concerns such as domestic violence, discrimination, and various human rights violations (Smith et al., 2017). There also are social policy issues such as extreme poverty, maternal health, equal educational opportunities, gender equality and empowerment in public debates in New Zealand society for many decades. The women’s groups and their advocacy coalitions have been able to use their newfound support from the Constitution and the media plurality to engage political parties especially to focus attention on issues and challenges that confront women’s effort to be empowered and become active participants in development decision-making in New Zealand (Rights of women, 2010).
In light of the preceding discussions, the women’s movement in New Zealand can be said to have employed focusing events and indicators as prescribed by MS framework to raise awareness of problems that have implications for public policy formulation (Rajeswari et al., 2018). The women’s groups engage in problem definition and framing by using information such as the comparison between the sizes of women in the population versus the size of women in parliament. They also use research findings conducted about poverty, maternal health, and the lack of equal opportunities in efforts to define problems of gender inequality in New Zealand (Rashbrooke et al., 2017).
The Policy Stream
The natural progression for dealing with any identified problem is to look for solutions. The MS framework implies that certain concepts that can be perceived to be policy suggestions and potential options float in the "policy primaeval soup" by the courtesy of professional political communities that dominate the policy stream (Shapiro et al., 2017). Thus, for a solution or policy alternative to be selected, it does not depend on the qualities of the solution per se, but on the persuasiveness and the ability of a policy entrepreneur to adopt and make a case for the technical feasibility, value acceptability of the particular solution or policy alternative. Thus, proposals for the passage of laws that seek to incriminate domestic violence and the creation of a cabinet-level ministry for women and children, the adoption of women-friendly programs in areas of maternal health and nutrition supplement could not be considered impractical solutions for women's empowerment. These efforts have also received the massive support of civil society groups, non-governmental and nonprofit organizations, religious groups, politicians, and the media (Tenbensel et al., 2017).
Meanwhile, the women’s involvement in parliament and gender-based advocacy groups has generally been successful with regards to the key issues that also form part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One can say that it is strategically significant for the groups to adopt those issues for which they had information and resources to propose solutions and policy alternatives, as well as garner support from the policy community, the medial and the general public. Velankar and Pahuja (2020) have argued that the survival and success of the "third wave" democratization processes that have unfolded since the early 1990s in most of the developing world such as New Zealand will depend on the active participation by groups such women who have had limited engagement in development decision-making for the most part(MacDonald, 2020).
With regards to the Domestic Violence law in New Zealand, most of the debates took place at the committee and subcommittees in the House of Parliament. However, the gender-based groups and their coalitions engaged the media, political parties, legislators and all the necessary institutions by making information about the state of affairs with regards to women and children who suffer various forms of violence in society. According to Pomeroy (2016), the gender equality and women’s empowerment advocates used the media to focus the public anger on the occurrence of violence of all forms against women and children while pointing to the social dynamics and institutional arrangements that allow for the perpetuation of such immoral and inhuman behaviours. These efforts culminated in significant achievements: first, the winning the 2017 elections adopted the “Women’s Manifesto” and created a cabinet-level position.
The Political Stream
The political stream of the multiple streams framework describes upheavals and changes in the policy subsystem that results from “institutional windows.” Kingdon (1984) incorporates into the MS framework institutional windows such as elections, breakdowns in policy monopoly or periodic rotations in governing bodies to show that changes in the political stream have the power to bring into convergence the problem and the policy stream and it is evident as per the current scenario. Many analysts consider the current political atmosphere in to be stable and conducive for civil society participation in the public policy process and thus can be considered to be an essential institutional window that has provided the impetus for the women's movement in their fight for equality and empowerment (Tenbensel et al., 2017).
The democratic dispensation and transitions have also set the environment for civil society and gender-based groups to have confidence in the political system. The women's manifesto include issues such as domestic violence, gender equality in employment with regards to maternal health, requiring the government to ratify internationally- agreed protocols on the rights women and support for the implementations of the already-ratified protocols.
Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice to deal with issues of violations of rights, freedoms, injustice, corruption and abuse of power and unfair treatment of any person by a public official in the exercise of official duties. The coalition of government has taken advantage of similar provisions in the Constitution to press the political parties and governments to respond to the women’s issues. For instance, about half or 48.2% of all respondents to a Civil Society Survey (CSS) indicated that the political environment was favourable to the operations of civil society and NGOs in New Zealand (Dürr & Fischer, 2018). These ideas and issues are then framed as issues of concern with which the parties seek the mandate of the electorates. A successful example is the incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.
Recommendations to change or update the policy based on your analysis
The three areas that are needed to be updated in the policy apart from political inclusion are:
Education- Rise in educational qualification levels will help in attaining all other women empowerment goals such as employment, gender equality and positive health outcomes. Also, the policy should mandate education for women at least up to graduation. This will aid in decreasing gap among men and women and will promote equality and growth opportunities for women (MacDonald, 2020).
Employment- For women, higher wages mean they will have more leverage and can continue to stand strong; and stronger women are best placed to advocate for higher wages-it's recursive. Women's workforce involvement is also weaker in New Zealand, as elsewhere in the country, as they appear to undertake more part-time jobs-64.2 per cent compared to 75.3 per cent for men. Unquestionably, the economic advancement of women is beneficial for the country (Chin et al., 2018). As the UN says: "Economies develop when more women work."
Health- As a result of improved access to primary care, greater alignment between patients and healthcare providers and enhanced maternity facilities, health conditions continue to change for women in New Zealand. HIV prenatal screening, expanded cervical and breast cancer screening coverage and immunization services all lead to lower rates of women's mortality and morbidity. More such steps can eliminate the risk of chronic disease among women and can help them in becoming a nation's voice (Chin et al., 2018).
Gender equality- Gender equity is the idea that equal consideration should be granted to all men and women in all ways, and that one will not be marginalized against on the grounds of gender. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes that gender equality is a human right. Gender equality is continually framed as fundamental to the implementation of both modernization and economic efficiency, and its attainment is presented as a prerequisite to good governance (Farvid, 2017).
The application of the multiple streams framework to analyze efforts of the “Rights of Women” to effect policy changes that help to empower and increase women’s participation in New Zealand as I tried to do in this paper is a novel endeavour in many ways. Various researchers have attempted to capture the activities of the women's groups and civil society organizations and their coalitions in New Zealand, but such efforts have usually been driven by the writers' professional backgrounds like a sociologist, political scientist, and rural development practitioners. However, it is pertinent to note that this novel exercise is premised on materials from independent and mostly parallel studies.
Meanwhile, various articles and report findings were consulted to find materials to flesh-out the framework in areas such as the three streams and conditions on which they function, what constitute indicators and focusing events and the factors that are needed for a coupling of the streams to take place.
Kingdon’s model talks about the primaeval soup, the presence of many actors and ideas, but there is generally a limited description of the role of interest, networks and coalitions, and how they can impact policy-oriented learning (). The framework does not make any provision to characterize how elite women, their networks and interests have influenced agenda-setting processes in women’s empowerment struggles in New Zealand. Yet, in the New Zealand situation described in this paper, these individuals who, due to the unfavourable political conditions at home in the 1970s and 80s had to live in exile but decided to study the political organizations abroad and civil society advocacy which eventually became beneficial with the opening of the "institutional window" of New Zealand’s return to democratic rule.
The coalition also organized seminars to build consensus and provide opportunities for different points of opinion to be expressed about issues affecting women’s empowerment efforts in New Zealand society. Thus, Kingdon’s limited characterization of the role of experiential learning in the MS framework becomes evident in how leaders and gender-based groups in New Zealand who are mostly women lawyers, politicians and academicians were able to organize to push issues that are of interest to their coalitions and networks. The availability of particular expertise and knowledge such as was demonstrated by the women leaders in the New Zealand political environment are important variables that need to be incorporated in the framework to make it a useful tool for policy analysis.