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Women’s Uprising in Poland

Embodied Claims between the Nation and Europe

Jennifer Ramme

In 2016 a legislative proposal introducing an abortion ban resulted in female mass mobilisations. The protests went along with frequent claims of Polish as well as European belonging. Next to this, creative appropriations of patriotic symbols related to national movements, fights and uprisings for independence and their transformation into a sign of female bodily sovereignty could be observed all over the country. The appearance of bodies needs to be looked at in relation to the concrete political context and conditions in which bodies materialise (Butler 2015). Bodies are in this sense always relational, but they also depend. The article argues that the constitution of ‘European bodies’ can serve to empower people exposed to and oppressed by nationalist biopolitics. In such cases a ‘European body’ might be constituted in distinction to the nation/nationalism and its claim of ownership on female bodies (the ‘national body’) and by performing multiple belongings extending national belonging.

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Karin Tengnäs

The global competition for African land is at a historical peak. Local effects of large-scale land acquisitions depend on multiple factors, but women's rights and livelihoods are generally very fragile due to historical and contemporary injustices. Good land governance is important for turning the land acquisitions into equal and equitable development opportunities. The human rights-based approach promotes good governance by adding strength and legal substance to the principles of participation and inclusion, openness and transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and equality and nondiscrimination. By empowering rights-holders and enhancing duty-bearers' capacity, international development cooperation can lead to wider and more gender-balanced inclusion of civil society in negotiations of large-scale land acquisitions and greater adherence of duty-bearers to the rule of law. This is especially important in African countries with large amounts of land and weak legal and institutional frameworks to protect rights, especially those of women.

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Paradoxes of transnational space and local activism

Iranians organizing across borders

Halleh Ghorashi and Nayereh Tavakoli

The Iranian revolution of 1979 promised to bring freedom and equality, but as soon as one group gained power, it turned out to be oppressive of both its political opposition and women. This resulted in the formation of a large Iranian diaspora bound together by its hatred for the Iranian regime. Years of suppression in the 1980s in Iran resulted in a deep gap between Iranians living inside and outside Iran. During the 1990s, however, cross-border relationships started to change as a result of two major factors: transnational activities and the influence of cyberspace. This paper focuses on the paradoxes of transnational connections in local protest with a focus on the women’s movement. We show both how transnational links have empowered women activists in Iran and how they have led to new dangers at the local level. We also reveal how support from the Iranian diaspora can be patronizing as well as supportive.

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Theatres of virtue

Collaboration, consensus, and the social life of corporate social responsibility

Dinah Rajak

In recent years transnational corporations have become major players in the development arena. The rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) elevates corporations as leaders in a new orthodoxy of business-led development that promotes empowerment through “the market” as the panacea for global poverty. This vision has recruited support from disparate actors, turning combatants into collaborators. This article is based on thirteen months of multisited fieldwork, tracking the performance of CSR through the circuit of conventions and policy forums that constitute the social life of CSR. I argue that by claiming the confluence of doing good business and doing good, commitment to the market logic of maximisation is not only maintained, but endowed with a moral legitimacy and celebrated as the elusive win-win solution for which the development industry continues to search.

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Driven women

Reconceptualizing women in traffic through the case of Gagauz mobile domestics

Leyla J. Keough

This article focuses on the skill and fortitude of Gagauz Moldovans who migrate to Istanbul to work as domestic laborers. I consider how these 'driven' women negotiate their subject positions as mothers and wives, educated workers, migrants and paid domestic laborers, Turkish-speaking Christians and former Soviets. While their understandings reproduce certain power relations in Turkey and Moldova, their journeys also constitute a route for empowerment. Their situation is presented in the context of a 'discourse of sexual threat' that circulates about them in Turkey. I examine how this discourse and the women's understandings of their own subjectivities work to open or close off, contribute to or limit, the subject positions, the goals and desires, and the potential agency of Gagauz and Turkish individuals. By considering these issues in this way, I argue that this case study may challenge traditional academic conceptualizations of migration in Europe, female subjects and power relations.

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Urban access

Contested spaces and contested politics

Ulrich Ufer

The global Right to the City network challenges exclusionary effects of neoliberal urbanization by claiming citizens' rights for access to urban space and to the benefits of urban culture. Artists belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in the context of gentrification and urban exclusion. At the same time, their creative and expressive capacities put them in a privileged position to voice protest. Oscillating between counterhegemony, accommodation, and strategic collusion, a group of artist-activists from the city of Hamburg in Germany have been employing the means of empowered symbolism, activist art, and emancipatory knowledge in order to implement an alterpolitics of space. Their occupation of the historic Hamburg Gängeviertel has successfully repoliticized questions over urban use value and urban access, which had been purposefully excluded from the realm of the political in the revanchist, neoliberal city.

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“Yes I am a mother and I am still a teenager”

Teen Moms Use Digital Photography to Share their Views

Leanne Levy and Sandra Weber

If we took the time to listen attentively and carefully to pregnant teenagers and teen mothers what would we hear? If we invited them to articulate their messages to the adults who interact with them, speak to those who judge them, and give advice to their peers, what would they say? Th is photo-essay addresses these related questions by presenting some of the findings of an arts-based activist research project called TEEN M.O.M. (Mirrors of Motherhood). One of the goals of the project was to examine how a media production program, implemented within the context of an existing community organization, can empower teenage girls in diffi cult circumstances to share their views. In a series of workshops, the participants were invited, off ered guidance, and equipped to produce their own images—digital photographs, drawings, and collage work—so as to make visible their views on the personal and social issues that aff ect them directly. (In this photo-essay we concentrate on their photographs and off er comments taken from their writing and from video-taped interviews.) For two hours each week for thirteen weeks, the project gave these young mothers time away from their daily responsibilities and provided them with a safe space in which to focus single-mindedly on creating their images. Th e project culminated in an exhibition in which their work was shown to members of the community, policy makers, family and friends.

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Learning to Lead

Challenging Girls in Rural Chinese Schools

Heidi Ross and Lei Wang

Leadership training is often described as an important component and goal of girls' secondary education and also a crucial step for realizing gender equality. This paper explores the possibilities for and barriers to effective leadership training in one "Spring Bud" girls' education project conducted in a poverty-stricken area of Shaanxi Province since 2001. Following a review of the Chinese and international literature on girls' secondary education and leadership training, the authors explore different understandings of "leadership" (and empowerment) among various project stakeholders and indicate the urgency of a mutual understanding of "leadership" and how it might be mentored in girls in formal educational settings. Authors draw upon interviews, observations, student writing, as well as the results of a 2006 survey of nearly 1,000 participating girls and their homeroom teachers, in their discussion of how to connect the concept of "leadership training" with the resources and constraints that shape girls' lives and future educational and career expectations and aspirations. The paper concludes with policy implications.

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Constructing the Socialist Worker

Gender, Identity and Work under State Socialism in Braşov, Romania

Jill Massino

Utilising socialist legislation, propaganda and oral history interviews, this article analyses how women’s identities and roles – as well as gender relations – were reformulated as a result of women’s participation in paid labour in socialist Romania. Although some women regarded work as burdensome and unsatisfying, others found it intellectually fulfilling, personally rewarding and, in certain respects, empowering. For example, work improved women’s economic position and offered them an array of social services, which, although inadequate in a number of ways, were welcomed by many women. Moreover, work increased women’s physical and social mobility, which in turn provided them with greater freedom in directing their own lives and in choosing a partner. Finally, the experience of being harassed by male co-workers and of combining work outside the home with domestic responsibilities motivated some women to rethink their status both within the workplace and the family, and to renegotiate their relationships with male colleagues and partners. Although women never achieved full equality in socialist Romania, by creating the conditions for women’s full-time engagement in the workforce, state socialism decisively shaped the course of women’s lives, their self-identities and their conceptions of gender roles, often in positive ways.

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Molly Scott Cato

Whilst the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education curricula is now widely acknowledged, the challenge for educators at university level is to develop and maintain authority and confidence in an area dominated by limited knowledge and uncertainty. This article suggests that the most empowering and authentic response is to adopt an approach of shared learning, but with the pedagogue demonstrating expertise and inspiration. I suggest that this is an approach to learning and teaching more familiar in areas of craft learning, characterised by apprenticeship and learning-by-doing. The article relies heavily on the work of Richard Sennett in providing a sociological account of craft learning, which is then applied to the field of sustainability. I explore how his three modes of instruction – 'sympathetic illustration', 'narrative' and 'metaphor' – are being used in the field of sustainability education, and draw parallels from the craft of basket weaving in particular, to show how these approaches might be developed. I conclude by suggesting that sustainability education is best undertaken within a community and in place, rather than abstractly and in the classroom.