What Kind of Growth? Economies that Work for Women in Post-War Settings

Concept Note: What Kind of Growth? Economies that Work for Women in Post-War Settings

A two-day workshop, organized by the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA and the University of Edinburgh, UK

July 17-18, 2017, Boston MA

This workshop, organized in collaboration with Claire Duncanson and with support from the Official Development Assistance research allocation by Scottish Funding Council to the University of Edinburghwas designed as the start of a discussion and collaboration amongst a range of feminist researchers whose paths otherwise rarely cross: it will bring feminist political economists who focus on alternatives to neoclassical economic models of growth, and  feminist researchers who focus on the challenges of building gender-equitable, sustainable peace.

Among feminist political economists, the past decade has seen a flourishing of research on alternatives to what might be thought of as “economic business as usual.” These analyses have emerged in response to waves of financial crisis and austerity, climate change, and global crises of social reproduction, and draw upon a feminist ethics of care and sustainability to challenge the market-centered logic of the mainstream.

But while this scholarship has addressed a wide range of sites and practices, it has heretofore paid little attention to war-torn societies, which face particular challenges, including decimated physical and social infrastructure, a despoiled physical environment, collapse of state institutions, and entrenched illicit war economies – all of which have particularly detrimental consequences for women and other marginalized groups. These are contexts, then, in which economic growth would seem a fundamental requirement. Standard prescriptions for economic growth, however, have only served to deepen preexisting inequalities and create new ones. Can feminist economic work that questions the market-based growth logic of neoclassical economics, crucial to addressing issues of inequalities and environmental limits, also be brought to bear in addressing the specific challenges of post-war contexts?

The workshop is part of a larger project to create a “Feminist Roadmap for Sustainable Peace.” The Feminist Roadmap project starts from the perception that no matter how gender-equitable and progressive a peace agreement might be, there are many predictable postwar international political-economic processes and dynamics that can essentially cement or deepen the structural inequalities, marginalization, exclusion, and lack of prospects that pre-existed and contributed to the armed conflict – or can even create new ones. Therefore, their effects must be carefully analyzed, and peacemaking and peacebuilding processes must, with foresight, take these into account if the end goal is gender-equal sustainable peace.  The “Feminist Roadmap for Sustainable” Peace is designed to meet this need by providing Women Peace and Security advocates, from international policy institutions and national governments supporting peace processes, to participants in peace negotiations and post-conflict governance, with:

  • forward-looking expert knowledge of postwar political economic processes and dynamics; 
  • analysis of the ways in which these processes can impact gender relations and other structural inequalities;
  • recommendations for how to engage and modify those processes in ways that are more supportive of the societal transformations critical to building sustainable peace.

Workshop Participants:

Suzanne Bergeron

Helen M. Graves Collegiate Professor of Women's Studies and Social Sciences. Director, Women's and Gender Studies, University of Michigan. She is a feminist political economist with expertise in theorizing alternative economic models.

Carol Cohn

Founding Director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights, University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research addresses a wide array of issues in gender, armed conflict and peacebuilding. Her current focus is on ways of bringing feminist political economic analysis into the WPS agenda.

Claire Duncanson

Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Edinburgh. Prior to her academic career, she has worked for a variety of human rights and international development NGOS. Her research interests lie at the intersection of international security, IR theory, and gender politics.

Kade Finnoff

Associate Professor of Economics at Azim Premji University, Bangalore India.  She is development economist whose research focuses primarily on countries emerging from violent conflict.

Anne Marie Goetz

Clinical Professor at Center for Global Affairs, New York University, and former Chief Advisor on Peace and Security at UN Women. Published widely on women, security policy, and peacebuilding and is an influential gender expert in development policy circles.

Dyan Mazurana

Research Director at the Feinstein International Center and Associate Research Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Her areas of focus include women’s and children’s rights during armed conflict and post conflict, serious crimes and violations committed during armed conflict and their effects on victims and civilian populations, armed opposition groups, and remedy and reparation. She works with a number of governments, UN agencies and NGOs on these areas.

Smita Ramnarain 

Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Rhode Island. Her research focuses on the political economy of development in South Asia. She has worked on post-conflict reconstruction, peacebuilding and development, feminization of poverty and female headship, microfinance, and more recently, environmental adaptation and resource conflicts, with field based research in Nepal and India. 

Maliha Safri

Associate Professor in the Economics Department, Drew University. She has taught and published on political economy and migration, and been involved with popular education seminars and courses with activists for twelve years at the Center for Popular Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Ghazal Zulfiqar 

Assistant Professor at the Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences. Her expertise is in public policy, and her research centers on the feminist political economy of labor and financialization.

Read the Workshop Report here.

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