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Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives


Fernando, Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda, and Laurie Cohen. 2014. “Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 149–64. doi:10.1111/gwao.12027.

Authors: Weerahannadige Dulini Anuvinda Fernando, Laurie Cohen


This paper places respectable femininity at the very centre of career enactment. In the accounts of 24 Sri Lankan women, notions of being a ‘respectable’ woman recurred as respondents described how important it was to adhere to the powerful behavioural norms for women in their organizations and society. However while such respectability was vital for women's career progression, it ultimately restricted their agency and conflicted with other requirements for advancement. Based on our empirical findings, we propose that being a respectable woman was experienced as paradox, where at times it was seen as impossible to be both a good woman and a successful careerist. We highlight the implications of our findings for women's careers in South Asia and more widely.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Political Economies Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2014

Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.


Fischer, Gundula. 2014. “Tanzanian Women’s Move into Wage Labour: Conceptualizing Deference, Sexuality and Respectability as Criteria for Workplace Suitability.” Gender, Work & Organization 21 (2): 135–48. doi:10.1111/gwao.12026.

Author: Gundula Fischer


Although female labour force participation in Tanzania is growing, little is known about how hiring authorities fill job positions with respect to gender. Qualitative interviews with hospitality and manufacturing managers in Mwanza (Tanzania's second largest city) reveal that female deference, sexuality, domesticity and respectability constitute important recruitment and job placement criteria. This article examines the various notions behind these criteria and how they serve to include or exclude women in the workforce. It is shown that when the interaction of these criteria is conceptualized, deference and domesticity emerge as essential elements of female respectability, supporting each other in the control of women's sexuality.

Topics: Civil Society, Economies, Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Sexuality Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2014

The Violence of Peace: Ethnojustice in Northern Uganda


Branch, Adam. 2014. “The Violence of Peace: Ethnojustice in Northern Uganda.” Development and Change 45 (3): 608–30. doi:10.1111/dech.12094.

Author: Adam Branch


Traditional justice, or what this article refers to as ‘ethnojustice’, claims to promote social reconstruction, peace and justice after episodes of war by rebuilding traditional order. Ethnojustice has become an increasingly prominent mode of transitional justice in northern Uganda. As such interventions multiply throughout Africa, it is essential to probe their political and practical consequences. This article situates ethnojustice theoretically within the broader discourse, practice and institutions of transitional justice, and historically within the reaction against orthodox liberal transitional justice from within the industry. Through an engagement with ethnojustice texts and interventions in the Acholi region of northern Uganda, the article argues that ethnojustice can end up extending forms of unaccountable, patriarchal power within Acholi society, funded and supported by the Ugandan state and international donors. In addition to underpinning this project of social discipline, ethnojustice also benefits the Ugandan state in its effort to avoid accountability for its violence during the war.

Topics: Ethnicity, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2014

Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and its Prospect as Implicit Genocide


Jessie, Soh Sie Eng. 2006. “Forced Pregnancy: Codification in the Rome Statute and Its Prospect as Implicit Genocide.” New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 4 (2): 311.

Author: Soh Sie Eng Jessie


The Bosnia–Herzegovina political conflict between 1992 and 1995 shone international light on the use of forced pregnancy campaigns as tools in ethnic conflicts. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the first international treaty to explicitly define the crime of forced pregnancy, but its enactment was controversial. This article discusses the intensive opposition to its inclusion in the Rome Statute, from religious, cultural and political perspectives. It also suggests that domestic antiabortion laws and control over women's reproductive rights raise different issues from a forced pregnancy provision, and that there was a need for the express codification of forced pregnancy as a separate offence, given that it is neither novel nor rare. The Rome Statute lists forced pregnancy as a separate offence, but it is not expressly criminalised as genocide. However, this article argues that forced pregnancy is implicit genocide. It involves attacking women in the targeted group for the purpose of their impregnation through rape, and their detention to facilitate the birth of resulting babies. Forced pregnancy campaigns infiltrate the targeted community through gene pool pollution and manipulation of cultural beliefs.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Genocide, Health, Reproductive Health, International Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Sexual Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2006

From Benevolent Patriarchy to Gender Transformation: A Case Study of Pakistan’s ‘We Can End Violence against Women’ Program.


Wu, Joyce. 2011. “From Benevolent Patriarchy to Gender Transformation: A Case Study of Pakistan’s ‘We Can End Violence against Women’ Program.” In Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices, 219–31. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.

Author: Joyce Wu


"Ending violence against women and promoting gender equality have long been on the agenda of Pakistani women and human rights activists. In Pakistan and many other developing countries, initiatives that engage with men from a profeminist framework is a relatively new concept, and more or less in sync with the shifting trend of the international development field, which has moved away from a Women in Development (WID) approach to a Gender and Development (GAD) (Lang 2003, 2; Flood 2004, 43-44). In summary, GAD focuses on institutional changes and the examination of gender roles and norms in relation to social divisions, as well as gender-mainstreaming in institutions, and a greater focus on men's role in contributing toward gender equality. In this context, the focus on engaging with men and boys to end violence against women (VAW) is becoming more readily accepted by international donors and partner organizations. Due to the security and humanitarian circumstances in Pakistan, international donors and NGOs have mainly prioritized disaster relief and reconstruction, though there has been an increase in projects that focus on men's behavioral change and ending violence against women [...] In this article, I will first examine the challenges faced by NGOs when engaging with local communities – especially men and boys – on the issue of violence against women in Pakistan. I will then provide the case study of Oxfam Great Britain's regional program, We Can End Violence against Women (referred as "We Can"), which engages with both men and women in local communities. Through We Can, I will illustrate the challenges of working with men and boys, as well as highlight the innovative approaches used to change the dominant norms at both personal and societal levels in Pakistan (Wu, 2011: 219-20)."

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Women, Men, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Sexual Violence, SV against women, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Pakistan

Year: 2011

Precursors to Femicide: Guatemalan Women in a Vortex of Violence


Carey Jr., David, and M. Gabriela Torres. 2010. “Precursors to Femicide: Guatemalan Women in a Vortex of Violence.” Latin American Research Review 45 (3): 142–64.

Authors: David Carey Jr., M. Gabriela Torres


Today women in Guatemala are killed at nearly the same rate as they were in the early 1980s when the civil war became genocidal. Yet the current femicide epidemic is less an aberration than a reflection of the way violence against women has become normalized in Guatemala. Used to re-inscribe patriarchy and sustain both dictatorships and democracies, gender-based violence morphed into femicide when peacetime governments became too weak to control extralegal and paramilitary powers. The naturalization of gender-based violence over the course of the twentieth century maintained and promoted the systemic impunity that undergirds femicide today. By accounting for the gendered and historical dimensions of the cultural practices of violence and impunity, we offer a re-conceptualization of the social relations that perpetuate femicide as an expression of post-war violence. 

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Impunity, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2010

Learning in a Militarized Context: Exploring Afghan Women’s Experiences of Higher Education in ‘Post-Conflict’ Afghanistan


Akseer, Spogmai. “Learning in a Militarized Context: Exploring Afghan Women’s Experiences of Higher Education in ‘Post-Conflict’ Afghanistan.” PhD diss., University of Toronto, 2015.

Author: Spogmai Akseer


This study examines the repercussions of the war on terror and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan, on the daily (gendered) life experiences of Afghan women. I argue that such wars are markers of the shifts in global capitalist accumulation processes, from exporting ‘goods’ to the Global South, to now exporting capitalism. Specifically, the war on terror is the latest manifestation of monopoly finance capitalism, which leverages wars and insecurity in the Global South as lucrative sites for accumulating profits and (re)investments. Democratic ideals provide a ‘moral’ justification for mass militarism, human rights violations, torture and erosion of existing social and economic inequalities. Notions of freedom, equality or classlessness, which are important objectives of formal democracy, as well, colonialist and racist ideologies of Others have become effective mechanisms forcapitalism to sustain and reproduce capitalist class relations. Education is an important site for socializing citizens toward accepting and participating as human capital in monopoly finance capitalism. Through the World Bank, higher education reforms in Afghanistan are endorsing neoliberal policies, even as these policies continue to contradict and exacerbate existing inequalities. Specifically, female education has become a key strategy in continued militarization and occupation in the country.
In this study, I examine the contradictory ways in which female university students navigate through an increasingly militarized, violent and patriarchal terrain. Guided by a transnational feminist approach and a dialectical historical materialist framework, 19 female university students from 5 public and private universities were interviewed in Afghanistan. Findings suggest that the university is a contradictory site where participants mobilize new and old strategies for addressing gendered constraints in their lives, while simultaneously creating new ones. The implications of these findings suggest a need for extensive institutional and ideological support for women’s learning, and also improving home-school connections. The participants’ desire to learn and their concerns over increasing violence and insecurity, reveal the militarized nature of their learning, as well, the possibility for critical and transformative learning against imperialism, patriarchy and class relations.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Education, Gender, Women, Men, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Livelihoods, Militarized livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2015

The Violence of Memory: Renarrating Partition Violence in Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers


Misri, Deepti. 2011. “The Violence of Memory: Renarrating Partition Violence in Shauna Singh Baldwin’s What the Body Remembers.” Meridians 11 (1): 1–25. doi:10.2979/meridians.11.1.1.

Author: Deepti Misri


This article explores how Shauna Singh Baldwin's novel What the Body Remembers builds on Partition feminist historiography in order to exhume and retell the story of family violence against women during India's Partition, intended to “save their honor” from rioting mobs. While feminist historiographies have restored Partition survivors' memories of violence to the historical archive, Baldwin's novel explicitly foregrounds the role of gendered bodies in and as the archive of communal memories of violence. I begin with Baldwin's exploration of the embodied character of Sikh subject-formation in a pre-Partition border community, and close in, like the novel itself, on a key moment of embodied violence: the cutting up and reassembling of a woman's body, whose manner of death is later reconstructed by her male family members, in the presence of a female family member. My analysis shows how the text's layering of perspectives around this body encodes a feminist hermeneutics of doubt and models a critical practice of “reading between the lines” in order to recover the violence suppressed in the text of patriarchal memory. Furthermore, I argue, the woman's dismembered, re-membered body in the text allegorizes the processes of disfigurement through which women's bodies are routinely produced as “dead metaphors” for patriarchal honor; as well as the project of remembering violence differently, which the novel itself endorses.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Hierarchies, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2011

Political Transition and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: A Comparative Analysis


Thomas, Kylie, Masheti Masinjila, and Eunice Bere. 2013. “Political Transition and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe: A Comparative Analysis.” Gender & Development 21 (3): 519–32. 

Authors: Kylie Thomas, Masheti Masinjila, Eunice Bere


This article draws on research conducted in Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe that focused on violence in the context of political transition. The paper examines the relation between political transition and sexual and gender-based violence in the three countries. The paper argues that it is critical to recognise sexual and gender-based violence as bound to systemic gendered inequality if such forms of violence are to be addressed and mitigated when periods of violent conflict end.

Keywords: political transition, sexual and gender-based violence, patriarchy, rape, colonial oppression, structural violence, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, post-election violence

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Year: 2013

A Luta Kontinua (The Struggle Continues): The Marginalization of East Timorese Women Within the Veterans’ Valorization Scheme


Kent, Lia, and Naomi Kinsella. 2015. “A Luta Kontinua (The Struggle Continues): The Marginalization of East Timorese Women Within the Veterans’ Valorization Scheme.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (3): 473–94. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.913383.

Authors: Lia Kent, Naomi Kinsella


This article examines how East Timorese women's contributions to the resistance against the twenty-four-year Indonesian occupation (“the Resistance”) have been marginalized within the veteran's valorization scheme (veterans' scheme) established in the post-conflict period. Drawing on interviews with politicians, veterans and members of women's organizations, we show that although women played significant roles within the Armed, Clandestine and Diplomatic fronts, for the most part they have not been recognized as veterans within the veterans' scheme. Instead, the scheme has reinforced perceptions of women's roles as wives, mothers, homemakers and widows, rather than as political actors, suggesting that the return to “peace” in Timor-Leste has been accompanied by the strengthening of patriarchal traditions and the expectation that women return to “traditional” roles. We argue that the failure to recognize women as veterans is problematic both for East Timorese women and society as a whole. It represents a lost opportunity to recognize women's agency and potentially to improve their social status in society. It also narrows the way in which the independence struggle is remembered and represented and further promotes a culture of “militarized masculinity” that elevates and rewards men who show the capacity to use violence.

Keywords: Timor-Leste, resistance, post-conflict, veterans, women's recognition, militarized masculinity

Topics: Civil Society, Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Asia, Oceania Countries: Timor-Leste

Year: 2015


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