Engendering Human Security (Feminist Perspective)

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Item Code: NAF856
Author: Thanh-Dam Truong, Saskia Wieringa and Amrita Chhachhi
Publisher: Kali for Women
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8188965251
Pages: 362
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9 inch X 6 inch
Weight 610 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

This book engages with current debates on human security, offering a variety of feminist perspectives on the gender reconfigurations of the state, power/knowledge systems, sexuality, care, labour and the implications of globalisation for people's quotidian security. A key thematic area concerns the intersection between gender- as a domain of power-and human security as a new policy framework. The contributions in this book present an integration of a feminist materialist analysis of gender relations with a feminist post-modern approach to gender representation and cultural construction. A combination of the two approaches links culture with politics and economics, and integrates analysis of class, ethnicity and other dimensions of gender identity.

Contributors: Sunila Abeysekera, Rhoda Reddock, Gita Sen, Joyce Outshoorn, Rachel Kurian, Carla Risseeuw, Virginia Vargas, Imani Tafari-Ama, Patricia Mohammed, Noeleen Heyzer.

About the Author

Thanh-Dam Truong, Associate Professor In Women, Gender and Development Studies at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, is one of the first scholars to have provided an academic analysis of the problem of sex tourism.

Saskia Wieringa is Director of the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement in Amsterdam. She has written and edited 14 books, including two books of fiction, and numerous scholarly articles.

Amrita Chhachhi, Senior Lecturer, Women, Gender and Development, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, has published extensively on gender, labour and globalisation and citizenship, identity politics and conflict In South Asia.


This book has emerged out of the networks established through the Women, Gender and Development Programme at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. All the contributors have been linked in various capacities with this programme over the years reflecting its transnational feminist links, cultural diversity and international character. The contributors have combined academic scholarship with activist commitment in their lives and work in different geographical and professional locations.

An important figure linking all the contributors has been Professor Dr Geertje Lycklama who retired as Chair of the Women and Development Programme in 1999. All of us have worked with her and this book represents our collective effort to acknowledge her international academic and national political career and achievements, as well as her contributions to the field of women/gender and development studies. As a founding member of Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN), Geertje Lycklama's major contributions in the field of WGD rest in her tireless effort throughout her career to promote women's concerns in two key areas. One is women's work and well-being in everyday life in which she has been particularly concerned with women migrant workers. The other area is women organising for change, particularly in the domain of gender policies. Women, work, struggle have been her key words. Her commitment to building women's strength (personal, organisational, and political) and links between women's organisations within and across regions of the world has yielded many benefits to future generations of women, in the Caribbean, Southern Africa and Asia. Her particular concerns for the plight of migrant women workers in the global context, has contributed to an enhancement of their visibility in academic treatises and policy debates. In many ways, her promotion of an interactive relation between the Women, Gender and Development Programme at the Institute of Social Studies and women's organisations and research institutes in the South has contributed to the shaping of a global vision for this field. Her feminism has enabled her colleagues and partners to explore path- breaking research themes and innovative action in many areas. We dedicate this book to her.

We would like to thank all the contributors to this volume and each other for the collective and individual inputs which have made this book possible. We also gratefully acknowledge the first round of editing by Rosalind Melis, the eagle-eyed copy editing by Ratna Sahai and of course Ritu Menon for support and friendship.


This book engages with the current debate on human security in the context of globalisation, offering a variety of feminist perspectives on some core issues regarding the gender reconfiguration of the state, power/knowledge systems and the implications for people's quotidian security, A key thematic area concerns the intersection between gender-as a domain of power-and human security as a new policy framework based on the intellectual foundations of the capability approach developed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum (Nussbaum and Sen 1993; Nussbaum 2000). The concept became entrenched in development thinking when it was introduced in the 1994 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Prpgramme. It was there defined as freedom from fear and freedom from want. It was located in seven categories, the economy, food production, health, the environment, the personal and community level and politics. Since then the concept has been widely debated.

Discourses on human security have brought together issues of human dignity, rights and well-being in a comprehensive way. They span a variety of disciplines such as security studies and international relations, international law and organisations, sociology and cultural politics of rights, transnational sociology and economics of human development. Gender issues, although generally present in such discourse, have been approached in a fragmented manner. A consolidation of research findings and theoretical debates on human security from feminist perspectives is urgently needed to ensure effective incorporation of gender concerns in training, research and policy intervention.

The contributions in this book present an integration of a feminist materialist analysis of gender relations with a feminist post-modern approach to gender representation and cultural construction in the era of globalisation. The former approach insists on structural commonality and continuity with regard to the material significance of sexuality, care and work for women's human conditions; the latter resists over-generalisation and argues for a localised understanding of the interplay between ever-changing structures of state, gender and women's social identity and emphasises the significance of discursively embedded power relations. Blending the two approaches and clarifying assumptions on which they are premised can provide a balanced account of how global/local processes have created plural forms of gender power and control, and have shaped new risks and forms of insecurity for women and their communities.

The emergence of human security as an evolving concept expresses a collective search among communities of policy-makers, academic institutions and civic organisations for such ethical and theoretical reasoning as will bring security issues into a new focus. Significant in this endeavour is the ability to comprehend and respond to threats-to human life and dignity-which are outcomes of the interplay between global forces and those forces embedded in national and local structures. The United Nations Commission on Human Security co-chaired by Arnarrya Sen and Sadako Ogata was mandated in 2001 to provide answers to ways of achieving the Millennium Declaration's goals of attaining freedom from fear and freedom from want for all people. The Declaration was endorsed in 2000 by some 180 states. The Commission's publication of Human Security Now in 2003 adopts the definition of human security as the protection of the 'vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedom and human fulfilment'. This definition integrates Human Rights, Human Development and Human Security as three facets of a common ethical base for the protection of human life and dignity as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the subsequent Human Rights treaties. Challenges to the Commission to integrate human security concerns in the work of global, regional, and national security-related organisations are many. Most glaring is the fact that the referents of security) are not equal, therefore a formula must be found to assess and balance competing needs. Furthermore, experiences of human security are not immune from political, cultural and social shaping. Every dimension of human security involves a direct or indirect mediating role of cultural and religious institutions, spanning from the most local and historically specific experience of individuals and groups to the most global level of disputes over territorial and resource control (Truong 2005a). In the post-Ll September 2001 era the world community witnesses the fortification of the state- centric approach to security and a deepening of control over the social body that may override many human rights concerns previously recognised, particularly those emanating from 'issues of security that have become transnational.

A clear example of the fatal consequences that a predominantly state-centric and masculinist approach to security may have is the 2005 disastrous hurricane Karrina, that destroyed much of New Orleans. This example also demonstrates that all aspects within the security discourse should be looked at from an intersectional perspective, paying attention to issues of gender and race. Again linking the global to the local, it is noteworthy that the slogan of the 'liberation of women' out of the clutches of the Taliban has lost much of its appeal now that it seems clear that in the successor state in Iraq women's security is at stake. In the transition from a secular Iraq to a Shiite-dominated one it is women who stand to lose critical rights.

As pointed out by Hoogensen and Rottem (2004: 156), 'A central problem in defining security outside of state-designated parameters is determining what other parameters could be equally more useful'. They propose gender identity as a significant category



  Preface vii
  Gender Questions in the Human Security Framework ix
  Part I: Human Security, Gender and the Body 1
  Gendering Transitional Justice :  
  Experiences of Women in Sri Lanka and Timor  
  Leste in Seeking Affirmation and Rights 3
2 Reproductive Rights and Gender Justice in the  
  Neo-conservative Shadow 36
3 Gender Power Dynamics in Jamaica's Ghetto Trap:  
  Southside 56
4 The New Regulation of Prostitution in the  
  Netherlands 80
  Part II: Human Security, Work and Care 99
5 Combating Trafficking in Women and Children:  
  A Gender and Human Rights Framework 101
6 The Politics and Culture of Care:  
  Some Issues in the Netherlands 124
7 The Globalisation of Domestic Care Services 147
8 From State Duty to Women's Virtue:  
  Care under Liberalisation in Vietnam 169
  Part III: Human Security: Prospects for Feminist Engagements 189
9 Globalisation, Social Movements and Feminism:  
  Coming Together at the World Social Forum 191
10 Measuring Women's Empowerment:  
  Developing a Global Tool 211
11 Eroding Citizenship:  
  Gender, Labour and Liberalisation in India 234
12 The Plasticity of Gender in Social Policy Formation 277
13 Engendering Science and Interdisciplinary  
  Environmental Research for Environmental Security:  
  The Case of the Nariva Swamp 297
  Contributors 327

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