Gendered Power Relations

Peacebuilding and Reconstruction with Women: Reflections on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine


Moghadam, Valentine. 2005. “Peacebuilding and Reconstruction with Women: Reflections on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.” Development 48 (3): 63-72.

Author: Valentine Moghadam


Valentine M. Moghadam looks at feminist insights into violence, conflict, peacebuilding, and women's rights, as well as developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, to make the case for the involvement of women and the integration of gender into all phases of conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction and governance.

Keywords: womens rights, conflict resolution, post-conflict governance, post-conflict reconstruction

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-Conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Security, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2005

The Payoff From Women’s Rights


Coleman, Isobel. 2004. “The Payoff From Women’s Rights.” Foreign Affairs 83 (3): 80-95.

Author: Isobel Coleman


Over the past decade, significant research has demonstrated what many have known for a long time: women are critical to economic development, active civil society, and good governance, especially in developing countries. Focusing on women is often the best way to reduce birth rates and child mortality, improve health, nutrition, and education, stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, build robust and self-sustaining community organizations, and encourage grassroots democracy. Much like human rights a generation ago, women's rights were long considered too controversial for mainstream foreign policy. For decades, international development agencies skirted gender issues in highly patriarchal societies. Now, however, they increasingly see women's empowerment as critical to their mandate. 

Keywords: economic development, women's rights, community health, gender issues, womens empowerment

Topics: Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Development, Economies, Education, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Health, HIV/AIDS, International Organizations, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2004

Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution


Vandenberg, Martina. 2002. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution. 14 (9). New York: Human Rights Watch.

Author: Martina Vandenberg


Traffickers who have forced thousands of women and girls into prostitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not being apprehended for their crimes. Local corruption and the complicity of international officials in Bosnia have allowed a trafficking network to flourish, in which women are tricked, threatened, physically assaulted and sold as chattel, the report said. The 75-page report, "Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution," documents how local Bosnian police officers facilitate the trafficking by creating false documents; visiting brothels to partake of free sexual services; and sometimes engaging in trafficking directly. Human Rights Watch also obtained documents from the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) that revealed cases of International Police Task Force (IPTF) officers visiting nightclubs as clients of trafficked women and girls, arranging to have trafficked women delivered to their residences, and in one case, tampering with witnesses to conceal an IPTF officer's complicity. 

Keywords: political corruption, local government, United Nations, sex trafficking, prostitution, corruption, International Police Task Force

Topics: Corruption, Displacement & Migration, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, International Organizations, Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women, Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2002

The Victimization of Women Through Human Trafficking - An Aftermath of War?


Rathgeber, Corene. 2002. "The Victimization of Women Through Human Trafficking - An Aftermath of War?" European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law, and Criminal Justice 10 (2-3): 152-63.

Author: Corene Rathgeber


This paper investigates the trafficking of women and girls in a post-conflict society, specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina, from a victimological perspective. The trafficking of women and children into Bosnia and Herzegovina for sexual purposes is a highly profitable business for organized crime syndicates. The United Nations estimates that four million people a year are trafficked, resulting in over seven billion dollars profit for criminal groups. Unlike the trafficking of drugs or arms, there is no overhead, women are coerced or kidnapped and then sold for a high profit. These women are deprived of their most basic human rights, and are in this situation trying to improve their lives. In Bosnia and Herzegovina women are trafficked from South-Eastern Europe, but the reasons these women are trafficked are the same globally. Women are trafficked because of the world-wide feminization of poverty, the unequal rights and access to formal labour, and the restricted abilities to gain power over their own lives in their home countries. The trafficking of women and children to and through Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue if only band-aid solutions are applied to the problem. Not only does the local government need to take responsibility for this issue, but also there needs to be education and awareness at all levels. 

Keywords: post-conflict, women's rights, sex trafficking


This paper looks at the trafficking of women and girls in post-conflict societies, specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina. The author takes a victim-centered view of the issue, discussing the increase in organized crime that flourishes in conflict areas, counter-trafficking activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the country specific conditions that fuel trafficking in these areas. Rathgeber concludes by examining the legislation and government response to the issue, and calls for more support and assistance for the victims of trafficking.

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2002

Sex Trafficking in South Asia


Huda, Sigma. 2006. "Sex Trafficking in South Asia." International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 94 (3): 374-81.

Author: Sigma Huda


Economic and social inequalities and political conflicts have led to the movement of persons within each country and across the borders in South Asia. Globalization has encouraged free mobility of capital, technology, experts and sex tourism. Illiteracy, dependency, violence, social stigma, cultural stereotypes, gender disparity and endemic poverty, among other factors, place women and children in powerless, non-negotiable situations that have contributed to the emergence and breeding of the cavernous problem of sex trafficking in the entire region. This alarming spread of sex trafficking has fuelled the spread of HIV infection in South Asia, posing a unique and serious threat to community health, poverty alleviation and other crucial aspects of human development. Although the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Convention on Trafficking in Women and Children has been an important breakthrough, most of the countries in the region do not have anti-trafficking legislation or means to protect the victims. Countries of the region should make a concerted effort to treat trafficking victims as victims of human rights violations in all anti-trafficking strategies and actions.

Keywords: globalization, migration, HIV/AIDS, poverty, sex trafficking, human rights

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Economies, Economic Inequality, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Globalization, Health, HIV/AIDS, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia

Year: 2006

The Impact of Improved Rural Roads on Gender Relations in Peru


Bravo, Ana. 2002. "The Impact of Improved Rural Roads on Gender Relations in Peru." Mountain Research and Development 22 (3): 221-24.

Author: Ana Bravo


The Andean region of Peru covers over one third of the country's territory and contains about 30% of its total population. Development is constrained by both natural and nonnatural barriers, especially in rural areas. Geographic isolation, difficult mountainous terrain, high costs associated with improving transport infrastructure, deficient services, and intermediate means of transport limit the mobility of the rural poor as well as their access to basic services and utilities. Illiteracy rates are high in rural areas; the rate for women (28.2%) is 3 times that of men (9.1%). Responsible de facto for family life activities (education, health, food, recreation, child-care, family relations, etc) and increasingly sharing productive and management roles with men, rural women carry a significant workload. The impact of improved rural roads on gender relations in the Peruvian Andes is highlighted in the present paper, with a focus on the example of the Rural Roads Program. Recommendations are made for more gender-sensitive policy programs in the transport sector.

Keywords: education, poverty

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Education, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Households, Infrastructure, Transportation Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Peru

Year: 2002

No Shortcuts to Power: Constraints on Women's Political Effectiveness in Uganda


Goetz, Anne-Marie. 2002. "No Shortcuts to Power: Constraints on Women's Political Effectiveness in Uganda." Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (4): 549-575.

Author: Anne-Marie Goetz


Numbers of women in public representative office have increased dramatically in Uganda since the introduction of the National Resistance Movement's 'no party' system, because affirmative action measures have been taken to reserve seats for them in Parliament and local government. This article offers an assessment of the impact of these measureson women's political effectiveness, examining how far women in Parliament have been able to advance gender equity concerns in key new legislation. The article suggests that the political value of specially created new seats has been eroded by their exploitation as currency for the NRM's patronage system, undermining women's effectiveness as representatives of women's interests once in office. This is because the gate-keepers of access to reserved political space are not the women's movement, or even women voters, but Movement elites. The women's movement in Uganda, though a beneficiary of the NRM's patronage, has become increasingly critical of the deepening authoritarianism of the NRM, pointing out that the lack of internal democracy in the Movement accounts for its failure to follow constitutional commitments to gender equity through to changes in key new pieces of legislation affecting women's rights.

Keywords: affirmative action, political corruption, quotas, political representation, democracy

Topics: Corruption, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Quotas, Political Participation Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2002

The Rise of Gender Quota Laws: Expanding the Spectrum of Determinants for Electoral Reform


Celis, Karen, Mona Lena Krook, and Petra Meier. 2011. "The Rise of Gender Quota Laws: Expanding the Spectrum of Determinants for Electoral Reform." West European Politics 34 (3): 514-30.

Authors: Karen Celis, Mona Lena Krook, Petra Meier


The seminal work of Arend Lijphart, Electoral Systems and Party Systems (1994), limits the definition of electoral reforms to those affecting electoral formulas, district magnitudes, assembly size, or electoral thresholds. Following this definition, studies on electoral reform have put political parties and their motivations at centre stage. Expanding the definition of electoral reform, however, requires a move beyond parties to explore the multiple possible sources of change. This article examines the most common reforms of recent years, electoral gender quota policies, and points to at least four explanations for the adoption of gender quota laws. Based on extensive data from gender quota campaigns, the article suggests that the literature on this topic would benefit from efforts to broaden the analytical focus to include the role of agency, group interests, and discursive struggles, and to call attention to the possibility of causal diversity by revealing different routes to electoral reform.

Keywords: governance, elections, affirmative action, gender quotas

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Quotas, Elections, Political Participation

Year: 2011

Land, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Changing Dynamics of Gender, Caste, and Ethnicity in a Nepalese Village


Thomas-Slayter, Barbara, and Nina Bhatt. 1994. "Land, Livestock, and Livelihoods: Changing Dynamics of Gender, Caste, and Ethnicity in a Nepalese Village." Human Ecology 22 (4): 467-494.

Authors: Barbara Thomas-Slayter, Nina Bhatt


Over the past 10 years, Ghusel VDC, Lalitpur District has moved from primarily subsistence agriculture into the wider cash economy aided by the Small Farmers' Development Program (SFDP), which provides credit to farmers mainly for the purchase of buffalo for milk production, and by the National Dairy Corporation, which supports local dairy cooperatives.  Analysis reveals that buffalo-keeping and milk sales are increasing the well-being of many households, while at the same time creating new inequalities in gender roles and responsibilities, greater inequities between Brahmin and Tamang residents in Ghusel, and placing pressures on the ecosystem for increased supplies of fodder and fuelwood. Evidence suggests that there is critical, need for attention to the social, and particularly gender-based, implications of maintaining livestock for milk sales and to the ecological underpinnings of this livelihood system.

Keywords: agriculture, livestock, land

Topics: Agriculture, Caste, Economies, Economic Inequality, Ethnicity, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Rights, Land Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Nepal

Year: 1994

Seeking Gender Justice in Post-Conflict Transitions: Towards a Transformative Women's Human Right's Approach


Reilly, Niamh. 2007. "Seeking Gender Justice in Post-Conflict Transitions: Towards a Transformative Women's Human Right's Approach." International Journal of Law in Context 3 (2): 155-72.

Author: Niamh Reilly


This article critically examines the prospects for achieving a comprehensive vision of gender justice in post-conflict transitional contexts.  It is divided into three main sections. The first reviews the gendered limits of mainstream approaches to transitional justice and highlights gender biases in related dominant discourses, which shape how conflict, and transitions from conflict, are understood and enacted to the detriment of women.  The second focuses on the benefits and limitations of engendering wartime criminal justice with particular reference to the International Criminal Court.  The third considers the prospects for a more comprehensive approach to gender justice that shifts the emphasis from ‘women as victims’ of conflict to women as agents of transformation, through an examination of the significance of Security Council Resolution 1325.  Ultimately, the author argues that achieving gender justice in transitions is inextricably tied to wider bottom-up efforts by women’s movements to realize a comprehensive vision of women’s human rights within a framework of critically-interpreted, universal, indivisible human rights.

Keywords: post-conflict transition, transitional justice, gender biases


  • In her article, Reilly examines the extent to which feminists engage with international law in order to achieve their ends. She focuses on two instances of feminist engagement with international law in post-conflict situations; the first is the initiative to incorporate gender-sensitive provisions into the procedures of the International Criminal Court, and the second is the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325. She concludes that the incorporation of gender-based policies into post-conflict reconstruction is intrinsic to the successful realization of women’s rights worldwide.

  • As she assesses “the gendered limits of traditional approaches to transitional justice,” (7), Reilly explains that because of the changing nature of conflict (with more contemporary wars being internal and involving non-state actors than previously), gender has only recently come to the forefront of discussion surrounding conflict and reconstruction. She writes that political transitions provide unique potential for countries to incorporate gender into their legal and political systems, particularly through feminist engagement with international law.  In her sub-section “Contesting gender bias in dominant discourses,” Reilly writes that the innate gender inequalities in the public and private spheres are particularly apparent in times of transition. While women play critical roles in peace initiatives, they are oftentimes excluded from positions of political power thereafter.

  • The second section of Reilly’s paper focuses on violence against women in times of conflict and post-conflict. Crimes committed against women during wartime have only recently begun to receive international attention, as more women are routinely making efforts to mainstream gender into the ICC and dismantle entrenched gender biases. Sexual violence in wartime has largely been dismissed as an inevitable reality; however, women’s movements that emerged in the 1990s have mobilized around the issue and called attention to its importance. She highlights the need to “shift the focus from women as victims of war to women as agents of change in transitions” (23), using international law as a tool to facilitate this shift in roles.

  • In section three, entitled “Women’s participation and gender equality in transitions” (24), Reilly notes that transitions oftentimes open up a window of opportunity for improvements in gender justice. She writes that feminist peace-building entails efforts for gender equality in the domestic sphere, such as the treatment of economic inequalities, which disproportionately affect women. Reilly cites SCR 1325 as an example of the way in which international law can be used to aid women in their struggle for gender equality in times of post-conflict transition. Resolution 1325, which calls for “the increased representation of women at all decision-making levels” (28), marks an important step for the transnational women’s movement; however, its successful implementation remains minimal. Because women’s economic and social equally may be a necessary precursor to their equal political participation, the traditional culture of many states prevent the concrete realization of SCR 1325.

  • In her conclusion, Reilly recaps her assessment of feminist engagement with the ICC and the adoption of SCR 1325. She argues that the efforts to expose war crimes against women are part of a larger effort for gender equality on the global scale. The “gender biases”—a term that she uses to characterize the male-centric models of democracy that govern many states—prevent women from making their voices heard in the post-conflict reconstruction process. Moreover, these gender biases result in the disregard for social and economic inequalities, which disproportionately disadvantage women in conflict and post-conflict periods.

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325

Year: 2007


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