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What's Feminist about Feminist Foreign Policy? Sweden's and Canada's Foreign Policy Agendas


Thomson, Jennifer. 2020. “What's Feminist about Feminist Foreign Policy? Sweden's and Canada's Foreign Policy Agendas.” International Studies Perspectives.  doi:10.1093/isp/ekz032. 

Author: Jennifer Thomson


Across politics and public discourse, feminism is experiencing a global renaissance. Yet feminist academic work is divided over the burgeoning use of the term, particularly in reference to economic and international development policy. For some, feminism has been co-opted for neoliberal economic ends; for others, it remains a critical force across the globe. This article explores the nascent feminist foreign policies of Sweden and Canada. Employing a discourse analysis of both states’ policy documents, it asks what the term “feminist” meant in preliminary attempts at constructing a feminist foreign policy. It argues that although both use the term “feminist,” they understand the term very differently, with Sweden centering it in domestic and international commitments to change, while Canada places greater emphasis on the private sector. This suggests that this policy agenda is still developing its central concepts, and is thus ripe for intervention on the part of policymakers and civil society organizations.

A través de la política y el discurso público, el feminismo está experimentando un renacimiento global. Sin embargo, el trabajo académico feminista está dividido por el uso creciente del término, particularmente en referencia a la política de desarrollo económico e internacional. Para algunos, el feminismo ha sido cooptado para fines económicos neoliberales; para otros, sigue siendo una fuerza fundamental en todo el mundo. Este artículo analiza las incipientes políticas exteriores feministas de Suecia y Canadá. Al emplear un análisis del discurso de los documentos de las políticas de ambos estados, se pregunta qué significaba el término «feminista» en los intentos preliminares de construir una política exterior feminista. Se argumenta que si bien ambos estados usan el término «feminista», entienden el término de manera muy diferente, ya que Suecia se centra en los compromisos nacionales e internacionales de cambio, mientras que Canadá pone un mayor énfasis en el sector privado. Esto sugiere que este proyecto aún está desarrollando sus conceptos centrales; por lo tanto, es propicio para la intervención de los responsables de formular políticas y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil.

On assiste actuellement à une renaissance du féminisme dans la politique et le débat public à l’échelle mondiale. Cependant, les spécialistes académiques du féminisme sont divisés sur l'utilisation naissante du terme, notamment en référence à la politique économique et de développement international. Pour certains, le féminisme a été coopté à des fins économiques néolibérales ; pour d'autres, il demeure une force majeure dans le monde. Cet article étudie les politiques étrangères féministes naissantes de la Suède et du Canada. S'appuyant sur une analyse du discours de la politique des deux états, il s'interroge sur le sens entendu du terme « féministe » lors des premières tentatives d’élaboration d'une politique étrangère féministe. Il soutient que, bien que les deux états utilisent le terme « féministe », ils le comprennent de manière très différente : en effet, la Suède place le féminisme au cœur des engagements nationaux et internationaux de changement, tandis que le Canada le situe davantage dans le domaine privé. Cela suggère que cet agenda politique est encore en train de développer ses concepts centraux et que, par conséquent, le moment est venu pour les décideurs politiques et les organisations de la société civile d'intervenir.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, foreign policy, feminist foreign policy, sweden, Canada

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Economies, Feminisms, Feminist Foreign Policy Regions: Americas, North America, Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Canada, Sweden

Year: 2020

Gender Disparities in Rural Accessibility and Mobility in Ghana


Adom-Asamoah, Gifty, Clifford Amoako, and Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa. 2020. "Gender Disparities in Rural Accessibility and Mobility in Ghana." Case Studies on Transport Policy 8 (1): 49-58.

Authors: Gifty Adom-Asamoah , Clifford Amoako, Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa


Many African governments claim that substantial proportions of development budgets are spent on transport infrastructure. However, physical access and mobility continue to be a challenge for rural dwellers. Several studies have attempted to establish the impact of such investments, using quantitative approaches, which are largely impersonal and have little or no direct personal impacts expressed by households. This paper explores household impacts of rural road investments under the Road Sector Development Project (RSDP) implemented by the Government of Ghana between 2002 and 2008. Based on a quasi-experimental design under the “withand-without” framework together with qualitative and participatory methods, the gendered impacts of the RSDP were assessed in selected communities along both “experimental” and “control” road corridors. The study reveals that transport needs and travel patterns in the selected communities are gendered; because they were differentiated for men and women. The paper also reveals the embedded social and economic benefits rural men and women derive from improved access. For sustained impacts of rural road investments on residents; the issue of gender must be re-negotiated and properly understood.

Keywords: gender, rural development, Ghana, Rural transport, Accessibility

Topics: Development, Gender, Households, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2020

Women and the Economic Miracle: Gender and Work in Postwar Japan


Brinton, Mary C. 1994. Women and the Economic Miracle: Gender and Work in Postwar Japan. Berkley: University of California Press.

Author: Mary C. Brinton


This lucid, hard-hitting book explores a central paradox of the Japanese economy: the relegation of women to low-paying, dead-end jobs in a workforce that depends on their labor to maintain its status as a world economic leader. Drawing upon historical materials, survey and statistical data, and extensive interviews in Japan, Mary Brinton provides an in-depth and original examination of the role of gender in Japan's phenomenal postwar economic growth.

Brinton finds that the educational system, the workplace, and the family in Japan have shaped the opportunities open to female workers. Women move in and out of the workforce depending on their age and family duties, a great disadvantage in a system that emphasizes seniority and continuous work experience. Brinton situates the vicious cycle that perpetuates traditional gender roles within the concept of human capital development, whereby Japanese society "underinvests" in the capabilities of women. The effects of this underinvestment are reinforced indirectly as women sustain male human capital through unpaid domestic labor and psychological support.

Brinton provides a clear analysis of a society that remains misunderstood, but whose economic transformation has been watched with great interest by the industrialized world. (Summary from Google Books)

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Women in the Japanese and U.S. Economies
3. Human Capital Development Systems
4. The Evolution of a Gendered Employment System
5. Gendered Work Lives
6. Gendered Education
7. Conclusion


Topics: Age, Development, Economies, Education, Gender, Gender Roles, Households, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 1994

Gender, Development and Security in Yemen's Transition Process


Christiansen, Connie Carøe. 2019. "Gender, Development and Security in Yemen's Transition Process." Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 13 (2): 197-215.

Author: Connie Carøe Christiansen


How policies at international level approach the gender dimension becomes salient, even urgent, for women whose countries are immersed in war and conflict, and who without effective governance at more local levels, rely entirely on these policies. The way Yemen is presented in the documents and media reports from selected members of the 'Friends of Yemen' donor group is in this study discussed in light of a range of narratives identified by Stern and Öjendal (2010) 2005; Cockburn 2007; Henry 2007; Shepherd 2008), 'gender' seems to be relevant to international and put into a feminist security perspective. The further aim is to reflect on the inter-linkages of gender, security and development at the level of donor motivations for aid, given on the one hand the recent prominence of the security agenda in the policy discourses of international interventions, and on the other the international attention to women's contribution to development in Yemen. I ask if a gender dimension is highlighted, subsumed, or absent. Despite feminist analyses of security as deeply gendered (e.g. Tickner 1992) 'gender' seems to be relevant in international security policies by implication only: Since it is necessary to include and consider gender in development processes, gender is relevant for the security-development nexus. This is how 'gender' feeds smoothly into existing policy discourses which claim that development is dependent on security in the country that needs to develop and vice versa; its security is dependent on development.

Keywords: conflict, feminist scholarship, gender, security policies, narrative frameworks, donor motivations

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Analysis, Peace and Security, Security Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Yemen

Year: 2019

The SDGs and Prevention for Sustaining Peace: Exploring the Transformative Potential of the Goal on Gender Equality


Mechoulan, Delphine, Youssef Mahmoud, Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, and Jimena Leiva Roesch. 2016. The SDGs and Prevention for Sustaining Peace: Exploring the Transformative Potential of the Goal on Gender Equality. New York: International Peace Institute.

Authors: Delphine Mechoulan, Youssef Mahmoud, Andrea Ó Súilleabháin , Jimena Leiva Roesch

Keywords: gender equality, peacetime, women's rights, sustainable development, working women, peacefulness, sustainable economic development, violence, peacemaking, civil wars


Summary from International Peace Institute: 
With the adoption of the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a multilateral policy consensus is emerging around a common vision for peaceful societies. These global frameworks treat prevention as an integral part of effective and participatory governance and view peace as both an enabler and an outcome of sustainable development. To illustrate the preventive potential of the SDGs, this issue brief focuses on Target 5.5, which aims to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic, and public life.” Evidence compiled with contributions from the Institute for Economics and Peace and the McKinsey Global Institute shows that investment in Target 5.5 could unleash the potential of women, facilitate their meaningful participation in decision making, and thus advance sustainable peace and development. This issue brief is part of the International Peace Institute’s (IPI) attempt to reframe prevention for the purpose of sustaining peace through a series of conversations from October 2016 to May 2017.

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Peace Processes, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Year: 2016

ECOWAS and Free Movement of Persons: African Women as Cross-Border Victims


Aduloju, Ayodeji Anthony. 2017. "ECOWAS and Free Movement of Persons: African Women as Cross-Border Victims." Journal of International Women's Studies 18 (4): 89-105.

Author: Ayodeji Anthony Aduloju


Existing literature has investigated the challenges of interstate border dispute, border conflict and their security and developmental implications for the West African sub-region. ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol of Persons was instituted to enhance economic development of West Africa’s citizens. However, studies have shown that the protocol has relatively aided transborder trafficking in persons, drugs, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). However, vulnerability of trans-border women traders in the sub-region have received little attention. This study utilized both primary and secondary sources of data gathering in order to interrogate the provisions of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons vis-à-vis its operationalization and incapacity to increase women’s economic opportunity and empowerment in West Africa. Through field survey, twenty (20) interviews were conducted at the Nigeria-Benin border. The interviews targeted 14 purposively selected women traders at the border, two officials each of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigeria Police Force. Moreover, observation method was employed to substantiate the interviews conducted. Data obtained were analyzed using descriptive analysis. Consequently, this study discovered that women constituted more of trans-border traders on Nigeria-Benin border, and precisely in West Africa. In addition, they are vulnerable to extortion, intimidation and sexual harassment by border officials, which has impinged on their rights contained in the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The study showed that the protocol does not fully protect women (mostly the ones with low economic characteristics who constitute larger population of women at the border) and thereby having implications for their livelihood and survival. The study then concluded that while the problem faced by women on the Nigeria-Benin border persists, it has a huge impact on the credibility of ECOWAS to properly integrate the sub-region for development and for the benefit of its significant population of women.

Keywords: ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol, gender, Trans-Border Women Traders, West Africa, sub-regional integration

Topics: Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Trafficking, Arms Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Benin, Nigeria

Year: 2017

Women and Nation-Building


Benard, Cheryl, Seth G. Jones, Olga Oliker, Cathryn Quantic Thurston, Brooke K. Stearns, and Kristen Cordell. 2008. Women and Nation-Building. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Authors: Cheryl Benard, Seth G. Jones, Olga Oliker, Cathryn Quantic Thurston, Brooke K. Stearns, Kristen Cordell


"The challenge of nation-building, i.e., dealing with the societal and political aftermaths of conflicts and putting new governments and new social compacts into place, has occupied much international energy during the past several decades. As an art, a process, and a set of competencies, it is still very much in an ongoing learning and experimentation phase. The RAND Corporation has contributed to the emerging knowledge base in this domain through a series of studies that have looked at nation-building enterprises led by the United States and others that were led by the United Nations and have examined the experiences gained during the reconstruction of specific sectors. Our study focuses on gender and nation-building. It considers this issue from two aspects: First, it examines gender-specific impacts of conflict and post-conflict and the ways in which events in these contexts may affect women differently than they affect men. Second, it analyzes the role of women in the nation-building process, in terms of both actual current practices, as far as these could be measured and ascertained, and possible outcomes that might occur if these practices were to be modified.

The study team first surveyed the broader literature on women in development, women and governance, women and conflict, and women in nation-building. It then focused on the case of Afghanistan. This case study was chosen for three reasons: First, it is contemporary, and it offers a longer nation-building “track record” and thus more data than does Iraq, the other contemporary case. Second, the relevant debate and decision line is easy to track because gender issues have been overtly on the table from the beginning of U.S. post-conflict involvement in Afghanistan, in part because of the Taliban’s equally overt prior emphasis on gender issues as a defining quality of its regime. Third, in contrast to earlier cases of nation-building, the issue of women’s inclusion is presently an official part of any development agenda, so that all the active agents in the nation-building enterprise have made conscious choices and decisions in that regard which can be reviewed and their underlying logic evaluated.

The study concludes with a broad set of analytic and policy recommendations. First, we identify the gaps in data collection and provide specific suggestions for improvement. Then, we recommend three shifts in emphasis that we believe are likely to strengthen the prospects of stability and enhance the outcomes of nation-building programs: a more genuine emphasis on the broader concept of human security from the earliest phases of the nation-building effort; a focus on establishing governance based on principles of equity and consistent rule of law from the start; and economic inclusion of women in the earliest stages of reconstruction activities” (Benard, Jones, Oliker, Thurston, Stearns, and Cordell 2008, xiii).

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction
2. The Security Dimension and Women
3. Planning and Implementing Programs for Women's Health and Education: Building Indicators of Success
4. Governance and Women
5. Economic Participation and Women
6. A Case Study: The National Solidarity Program
7. Recommendations

Topics: Development, Economies, Conflict, Education, Gender, Governance, Health, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Security, Human Security Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, United States of America

Year: 2008

Frictional Encounters in Postwar Human Rights: An Analysis of LGBTQI Movement Activism in Lebanon


Nagle, John. 2019. "Frictional Encounters in Postwar Human Rights: An Analysis of LGBTQI Movement Activism in Lebanon." The International Journal of Human Rights 24 (4): 357-76.

Author: John Nagle


The advancement of LGBTQI rights is now a significant component of many international aid programmes. The successful diffusion of LGBTQI rights is supposed to rest on a successful interaction between international agencies that foster global rights and social movement actors that embed these processes at the local level. Yet, these encounters between global human rights ideas and local practices may not always generate positive dynamics. Drawing on the concept of ‘friction’ – the unstable qualities of interaction between global and local forces – this paper explores the relationship between international actors promoting LGBTQI rights and local social movement activists in post-conflict societies. I argue that the notion of global rights is particularly problematic in the context of post-conflict societies where rights are allocated on the basis of sectarian identity. To empirically illustrate these issues, I look at LGBTQI social movement activism in the divided society of Lebanon. In particular, I examine the emergence and development of Helem – the first recognised LGBTQI rights group in the Middle East and North Africa – which quickly became the poster child for international development and aid agencies in the Global North.

Keywords: human rights, LGBTQ, post-conflict

Topics: Development, International Law, International Human Rights, International Organizations, LGBTQ, NGOs, Post-Conflict, Rights Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Lebanon

Year: 2019

Somalia and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States: Gender Equality as the Key to Peace-Building and State-Building Success


Mirza, Tabitha. 2019. “Somalia and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States: Gender Equality as the Key to Peace-Building and State-Building Success.” Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Policy and Society 2 (1): 180–205.

Author: Tabitha Mirza


The current methods which development agencies use to engage with fragile and conflict-affected states are in need of serious improvement. Transitioning out of fragility is a decades-long political process that requires a significant investment from multiple global partners. The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, or the “New Deal,” is a landmark global policy agreement that seeks to change traditional development cooperation from a donor-to-recipient transfer model to that of an equal partnership between governments and development partners, thereby seeking to reinforce country-owned and country-led strategies out of fragility. The Federal Republic of Somalia is one of several self-identified fragile and conflicted-affected member states participating in the g7+ New Deal Pilot Program. Since the 1960s, Somali conceptions of gender identity have undergone substantial changes as a result of conflict and peace-making processes. Having made a substantial commitment to the prioritization of women and girls’ inclusion in the nation’s peace-building and state-building objectives, Somalia’s effort has been praised for its promotion of gender equality.  There is significant literature on the United Nations Security Council Landmark Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security and which supports gender equality in peace-building and state-building processes. However, this article will use evidence from Somalia to showcase how liberal feminist and standpoint feminist programs are privileged over post-structural and institutional feminist perspectives that would otherwise drastically transform the New Deal’s implementation and its potential for success.

Keywords: Somalia, New Deal, gender, feminist theory, post conflict reconstruction, international aid, peacebuilding, statebuilding, sexual and gender based violence, fragile states

Topics: Conflict, Development, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Somalia

Year: 2019

Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East


Moghadam, Valentine M. 2013. Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Author: Valentine M. Moghadam


"The subject of this study is social change in the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan ; its impact on women's legal status and social positions ; and women's varied responses to, and involvment in, change processes. It also deals with constructions of gender during periods of social and political change. Social change is usually described in terms of modernization, revolution, cultural challenges, and social movements. Much of the standard literature on these topics does not examine women or gender, and thus [the author] hopes this study will contribute to an appreciation of the significance of gender in the midst of change. Neither are there many sociological studies on MENA and Afghansitan or studies on women in MENA and Afghanistan from a sociological perspective. Myths and stereotypes abund regarding women, Islam, and the region, and the events of September 11 and since have only compounded them. This book is intended in part to "normalize" the Middle East by underscoring the salience of structural determinants other than religion. It focuses on the major social-change processes in the region to show how women's lives are shaped not only by "Islam" and "culture", but also by economic development, the state, class location, and the world system. Why the focus on women? It is [the author's] contention that middle-class women are consciously and unconsciously major agents of social change in the region, at the vanguard of movements for modernity, democratization and citizenship." (Summary from Google Books)

Table of contents:

1. Recasting the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan

2. Economic development, state policy, and women's employment

3. Reforms, revolutions, and the woman question

4. Patriarchy, and the changing family

5. Islamist movements and women's responses

6. Iran: from Islamization to Islamic feminism, and beyond?

7. Afghanistan: revolution, reaction, and attempted reconstruction

8. All that is solid melts into air.

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Development, Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Religion Regions: Africa, MENA, North Africa, Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iran

Year: 2013


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