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South Asia

Women as Agents of Political Violence: Gendering Security


Alison, Miranda. 2004. “Women as Agents of Political Violence: Gendering Security.” Security Dialogue 35 (4): 447-63.

Author: Miranda Alison


This article challenges the idea that women are necessarily more peaceful than men by looking at examples of female combatants in ethno-nationalist military organizations in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland. Anti-state, liberatory nationalisms often provide more space (ideologically and practically) for women to participate as combatants than do institutionalized state or pro-state nationalisms, and this can be seen in the cases of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and the IRA in Northern Ireland when contrasted with loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. However, the role of the female combatant is ambiguous and indicates a tension between different conceptualizations of societal security, where female combatants both fight against societal insecurity posed by the state and contribute to internal societal insecurity within their ethno-national groups.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Security Regions: Asia, South Asia, Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Sri Lanka, United Kingdom

Year: 2004

Demands for Electoral Gender Quotas in Afghanistan and Iraq


Nordlund, Anja Taarup. 2004. “Demands for Electoral Gender Quotas in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Working Paper, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm.

Author: Anja Taarup Nordlund

Topics: Gender, Governance, Quotas Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq

Year: 2004

Raising Institutional Delivery in War-Torn Communities: Experience of BRAC in Afghanistan


Hadi, A., T. Rahman, D. Khuram, J. Ahmed, and A. Alam. 2007. “Raising Institutional Delivery in War-Torn Communities: Experience of BRAC in Afghanistan.” Asia Pacific Family Medicine 6: 1–9.

Authors: A. Hadi , T. Rahman, D. Khuram, J. Ahmed, A. Alam


Aims: Although reproductive health services have been expanded in rural communities in Afghanistan in the last several years, no systematic attempt has been made to assess their contribution to promote safe delivery. This study assesses the effects of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (a non-government organisation) health programme in raising institutional delivery in post-conflict traditional communities in Afghanistan.

MethodsData for this study came from two surveys conducted by Management Science of Health/United States Agency of International Development in 2004 and 2006 in the district of Paghman in Kabul province. A total of 180 randomly selected married women who gave birth in the last 2 years preceding the survey were interviewed.

ResultsFindings reveal that institutional delivery in rural communities has been increasing even in post-conflict poor rural communities. The use of services was much higher if antenatal care was provided by midwives and physicians. Intensive community mobilization, provision of free services and transport facilities at night, incentives to health providers, maintaining privacy in the delivery room and the quality of services were the key factors in raising the number of institutional deliveries.

ConclusionsThe provisions of free services and incentives for health providers worked well in raising the frequency institutional delivery. Given that Afghan communities are sparsely distributed in the countryside and largely inaccessible by most modern transport, the expansion of this approach to provide institutional delivery may not be feasible at this stage. This study argues for the promotion of new approaches to maternal health by testing the cost-effective intervention models. The study concludes that an integrated approach to address health services can significantly improve access to and the utilization of institutional delivery among poor and disadvantaged communities in Afghanistan.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health, International Organizations Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2007

Community, State and Gender: On Women’s Agency During Partition


Butalia, Urvashi. 1993. “Community, State and Gender: On Women’s Agency During Partition.” Economic and Political Weekly 28 (17): 12–24.

Author: Urvashi Butalia


For feminists, retrieving women's agency-just as retrieving women from history-has meant recovering strong, outspoken, powerful women who can then form part of the struggle for liberation. However, as explorations on the experiences of women during Partition show, it is difficult to arrive at general conclusions about women, history and their agential capacity. Women have often played out multiple and overlapping identities. An understanding of agency also needs to take into account notions of the moral order which is sought to be preserved when women act, as well as the mediation of the family, community, class and religion. The focus of this paper is on the related questions of women's agency and violence. It first looks at particular incidents that took place before Partition in Rawalpindi, in March 1947. The second section examines how the newly formed nation state dealt with the question of women after Partition and the third, through memoirs and personal accounts, the relationships between women who worked on behalf of the state with the state, and the women they worked with.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India, Pakistan

Year: 1993

To Whom Does Ameena Belong?’ Towards a Feminist Analysis of Childhood and Nationhood in Contemporary India


Mankekar, Purnima. 1997. “‘To Whom Does Ameena Belong?’ Towards a Feminist Analysis of Childhood and Nationhood in Contemporary India.” Feminist Review, no. 56, Debating Discourses, Practising Feminisms: 26-60.

Author: Purnima Mankekar


This article examines the discourses of the Indian state and of community élites during battles for the custody of a young Muslim girl, Ameena, who was 'rescued' from a marriage with an elderly Arab. The battles for Ameena's custody were fought as much in news reports, opinion columns, and letters to the editor of metropolitan and vernacular newspapers, as in courts. Questions were raised about Ameena's age, the viability of her marriage, the applicability of secular laws to Muslim communities, and the political economy of the sexuality of girl-children. In these representations, Ameena became a symbol of minority identity, and was transformed into an unwilling and unwitting object of protection. Why did Ammena's story attract so much attention? What were the different positions underlying the arguments made for Ameena's 'protection'? Without dismissing the protection of children and the advocacy of their rights, this article analyses the agendas shaping the discourses of the Indian state and national and community élites during the battles for Ameena's custody. The article situates the controversies surrounding Ameena in the wider context of the increasing polarization between Hindu and Muslim communities in India in the early 1990s, and focuses on the relationship between notions of childhood and discourses of community, gender and nation. The article argues that there was a synecdochic relationship between the purity of girl-children and the purity of the Indian nation: far from being 'pre-cultural' or apolitical, discourses of childhood were profoundly implicated in the politics of gender, sexuality, community and nation. What are the implications of Ameena's predicament for feminist epistemology and praxis? In pointing to the ways in which feminist critiques of modernist regimes of power and knowledge can enable us to understand the multiple positionalities of children in the contemporary world, the article explores the spaces available for feminist theorists and activists to engage in a politics of vigilance and intervention with regard to the state's positions towards children.

Keywords: childhood, gender, nationalism, modernity, feminist analysis

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Girls, Nationalism, Religion, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 1997

Women and Peace and Security: The Implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325


Neuwirth, Jessica. 2002. “Women and Peace and Security: The Implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325.” Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 9 (2): 253–60.

Author: Jessica Neuwirth

Topics: Gender, Women, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2002

Sexuality and Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka


Tambiah, Yasmin. 2004. “Sexuality and Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka.” Reproductive Health Matters 12 (23): 78–87. doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(04)23121-4.

Author: Yasmin Tambiah


The discourse of human rights in armed conflict situations is well adapted to respond to violence and violation, invoking internationally agreed principles of civil and political rights. However, in areas where the subject or domain of rights discourse is contested or controversial, human rights advocates appear less prepared to promote and defend such rights. Sexuality is one such domain. This paper explores the complex sexual choices women in Sri Lanka have had to negotiate, particularly widows and sex workers, within a context of ethnic conflict, militarisation and war. It argues that sexuality cannot be defined exclusively in terms of violation, even in a context dominated by violence, and that the sexual ordering of society may be subverted in such conditions. Newly widowed women and sex workers have had to negotiate self-determination as well as take responsibility for earning income and heading households, in spite of contrary community pressures. For women, political and economic rights are closely linked with the ability to determine their sexual and reproductive choices. The challenge to women’s and human rights advocates is how to articulate sexual autonomy as a necessary right on a par with others, and strategise to secure this right during armed conflict and postwar reconstruction.

Keywords: sexual rights, human rights, armed conflict, sex workers, widowhood, Sri Lanka

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexuality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2004

Cogs in the Wheel? Women in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam


Alison, Miranda. 2003. “Cogs in the Wheel? Women in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.” Civil Wars 6 (4): 37–54. doi:10.1080/1369824042000221367.

Author: Miranda Alison


This article examines women's involvement as combatants in the Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla organisation the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It addresses women's motivations for choosing to join the organisation, then examines the debate over the LTTE's brand of nationalist feminism before looking at how women's experiences in the movement have affected their views on gender in society. The article hopes to shed some light on the feminist debate about these women, and through this on the broader global feminist debate about women's roles in nationalism and war. The article argues for an analysis of women's involvement in the movement that accords the women agency and is open to certain positive results stemming from their participation, yet recognises the problematic nature of nationalist feminism.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Nationalism Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2003

The Politics of Integrating Gender to State Development Processes: Trends, Opportunities, and Constraints in Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, and Uganda


Goetz, Anne-Marie. 1995. The Politics of Integrating Gender to State Development Processes: Trends, Opportunities, and Constraints in Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, and Uganda. Geneva: UNRISD.

Author: Anne-Marie Goetz


This paper provides an assessment of efforts in six of the seven countries to improve public accountability to women in the development process. The paper begins with a brief theoretical discussion of feminist perspectives on the developmentalist state (Part I). It then goes on to provide an overview of some of the more prominent political, economic and social trends of the past two decades, against which efforts have been made to institutionalize gender in state development processes (Part II). In the main body of the paper (Part III), the author provides a historical and comparative analysis of efforts in the six case study countries to institutionalize gender concerns. The picture that emerges is one of extraordinarily fractured trajectories of institutionalization within the public administration. Most of the gender units within government bureaucracy that are studied here have a mandate to pursue their agenda across other government departments — a project that is sometimes called “mainstreaming”. For this they have devised a range of policy instruments (e.g. gender guidelines, gender training) intended to bring about gender-sensitive institutional, policy and operational changes across the public sector in order to make responsiveness to women’s interests a routine part of each sector’s activities. Despite significant efforts, the attempts to routinize gender concerns have for the most part been ineffective because gender units have been unable to provide the necessary incentives to encourage a positive reception in other departments. Some of the critical areas for gender mainstreaming considered in the paper include the national development plan and budget which constitute important public statements expressing politically selected priorities for change and progress, and are based on a macro-economic framework designed to create the conditions under which this national vision can be realized. Efforts so far in the countries studied have failed to ensure a systematic connection between national policy commitments to the integration of gender in development and the budgetary allocations that are necessary to realize those commitments. The chronic short-staffing of gender administrative units, compounded by their weak analytical skills, has tended to contribute to this failure. Equally important, however, has been the political weakness of gender constituents outside the state. In the politics of policy-making a critical point of leverage on decision makers is popular pressure and public opinion — the presence of an active constituency.

Topics: Development, Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Political Participation Regions: Africa, MENA, East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Americas, Caribbean countries, South America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Bangladesh, Chile, Jamaica, Mali, Morocco, Uganda

Year: 1995

Where There Are No Men: Women in the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal


Gautam, Shobha, Amrita Banskota, and Rita Manchanda. 2001. “Where There Are No Men: Women in the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal.” In Women, War and Peace in South Asia, edited by Rita Manchanda, 214-48. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Authors: Shobha Gautam, Amrita Banskota, Rita Manchanda

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 2001


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