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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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Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Two of the earliest women's suffrage victories were achieved in the Russian Empire, in Finland and Russia, as a result of wars and revolutions. Their significance has been largely ignored, yet study of these achievements challenges the standard paradigms about the conditions (struggle within a democracy, geographic location on the 'periphery'), which favoured early suffrage breakthroughs. This article analyses the particular circumstances in Finland and Russia, which, in a relatively short amount of time, broke down resistance to giving women the vote. An examination of the events surrounding the February 1917 Russian Revolution, which toppled the Tsar, demonstrates the significant role of women in initiating and furthering the revolutionary momentum as well as fighting for their own rights. Both the Finns and the Russians pioneered in extending the legacies of the French and American Revolutions to include women.

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Women’s Rights and Sovereignty/Autonomy

Negotiating Gender in Indigenous Justice Spaces

Shannon Speed, María Teresa Sierra, Lynn Stephen, Jessica Johnson and Heike Schaumberg

In recent years in both the United States and Latin America, indigenous peoples have taken increasing control over local justice, creating indigenous courts and asserting more autonomy in the administration of justice in their tribes, regions, or communities. New justice spaces, such as the Chickasaw District Courts in Oklahoma and the Zapatista Good Governance Councils in Chiapas, work to resolve conflict based largely on indigenous ‘customs and traditions.’ Many of the cases brought before these local legal bodies are domestic cases that directly involve issues of gender, women’s rights and culture. Yet the relationship between ‘indigenous traditions’ and women’s rights has been a fraught one. This forum article considers how these courts emerged in the context of neoliberalism and whether they provide new venues for indigenous women to pursue their rights and to challenge gendered social norms or practices that they find oppressive.

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For Women's Rights, Church, and Fatherland

The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation, 1908-1940

Indrė Karčiauskaitė

This article examines the history of the Lietuviu Katalikiu Moteru Draugija (LKMD, Lithuanian Catholic Women's Organisation) from its foundation in 1908 to its disbandment under Soviet occupation in 1940. Special attention is paid to the LKMD's changing relationship with the Catholic clergy and Lithuanian nationalism. Exploring which type of feminism the LKMD represented, the article focuses on attitudes of the LKMD leadership towards women's rights, participation in society, and paid employment. The beginning of the 1920s is shown to have been a turning point. At that time many educated women became active in order to enshrine women's rights in the statutes of the newly independent Lithuanian State. Several of them joined the LKMD, subsequently succeeding in reducing the clergy's influence on the organisation's central board. The LKMD, it turns out, was a good example of a women's organisation espousing relational feminism (Karen Offen's term), insisting on women's participation in society as being distinct from men's, particularly in relation to women's role as mothers, while taking a stand for equality between men and women, especially with respect to judicial issues.

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Tradition's Desire

The Politics of Culture in the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma

Thembisa Waetjen and Gerhard Maré

This article examines the recent trial of ANC president Jacob Zuma, and how gender power was framed in respect to, and within, the politics of culture. The trial centred on allegations of rape by Zuma of an HIV positive woman many years his junior, who was also the daughter of a former anti-apartheid struggle comrade. All of these details were considered pertinent, not only to the legal debates about whether a crime had been committed, but also to the political debates raging around the nation's key challenges of high rates of sexual violence and the 'denialist' state response to devastating levels of HIV infection. Many Zuma supporters saw the accusation of rape as politically motivated and as evidence of an anti-Zuma conspiracy. In visibly smaller numbers, women's rights groups were present on the streets as well, trying to draw attention to the general problem of the nation's extraordinarily high rates of sexual violence and the general failure of the justice system to address cases of rape. The article argues that the fervour surrounding this trial, the burning political question of women's status was continually cast as a private matter: debates about relations between men and women came to be focused on issues of propriety, behaviour and etiquette rather than on questions about rights and power. In short, the privatisation of gender was effected through the politics of culture. As culture is politicised as a legal and secular 'right', gender is de-politicised to become a normatively 'private' and 'customary' domain. This is not merely a South African dilemma, but a dilemma which is con-concomitant to the social conditions of modernity itself.

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Modern Women in a Modern State

Public Discourse in Interwar Yugoslavia on the Status of Women in Turkey (1923–1939)

Anđelko Vlašić

After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, Turkish women gained numerous political, social, and educational rights. Their rapidly improving status was a frequent topic in the public discourse of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (SHS)/Yugoslavia during the interwar years. One can find numerous comments in Yugoslav newspapers and journal articles, monographs, diaries, travel accounts, and other texts of the period on the contrast between the status of women in the “traditional,” “conservative,” theocratic Ottoman Empire and the status of women in the “modern,” “liberal,” secular Republic of Turkey. The Yugoslav media compared the status of Turkish women with the position of women’s rights in Yugoslavia. Through the analysis of interwar Yugoslav public discourse on the status of women in contemporary Turkey, this article aims to reveal the Yugoslav public’s perception of women’s issues through the prism of Turkey as Europe’s “Other” and their self-perception.

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Follow the Afghan War

Methods, Interpretations, Imagination

Irene Kucera

Anthropological research in war-torn countries like Afghanistan is dangerous and therefore often impossible. There are various constraints, both general and specific, that often hinder an anthropologist from going out into the field. This is not a new problem for social anthropology, but it is increasingly preoccupying the discipline. Thus, a 'distance approach' needs to be developed for studying the ethnography of the Afghan war. This article proposes one methodological possibility for approaching the Afghan war from other perspectives. This method involves extensive reading in and analysis of various written works and the critical examination of web sites and other media, in combination with fieldwork in Europe and Central Asia. In order to demonstrate this approach, the discourse on women's rights will be discussed.

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Victoria Rowe

Through an analysis of articles and novels written by four Armenian women, which appeared in the periodical press from 1880 to 1915, this text evaluates the ways in which the trajectories of the intellectual and cultural movement known as the Zartonk (Awakening) in Armenian history facilitated women writers' emergence into the public sphere and their creation of the language and formulation of a discourse of women's rights in the Armenian socio-political context. The article provides biographical information on four women writers and examines the secular cultural institutions—such as the salon, the periodical press, the school, and the philanthropic organisation—which emerged in Constantinople and were conducive to women's participation in the public sphere. The article then problematises Armenian women writers' formulation of a specific political discourse of women's rights in the socio-political context of the Armenian millet in the Ottoman state and suggests that Armenian women writers produced a type of feminism that may have been typical of nations without independence in the context of state-sanctioned violence.

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Alessia Donà

Despite a situation of economic crisis and political uncertainty, the year 2013 will be remembered for the highest female parliamentary representation ever reached in Italy, for the adoption of new legislative measures to combat violence against women, and for increased female participation in the labor market. This chapter provides an overview of these three main events. First, by conducting a process-tracing analysis, the chapter reconstructs the steps taken toward new legislative measures against gender-based violence. Second, the chapter explores the Italian labor market, where the harsh crisis put women back into the workforce. Lastly, the possible policy implications of a renewed, younger, and more gender-balanced Parliament are discussed. The main argument is that the events of 2013 may represent a turning point for Italian women's rights, but only if traditional gender roles are challenged.

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Thinking through Surrogacy Legislation in India

Reflections on Relational Consent and the Rights of Infertile Women

Maya Unnithan

As its main focus the article is concerned with explaining the proposed Indian Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) Bill 2010 (2008), and in particular discusses some of its limitations using a relational conception of consent and autonomy. It is argued that two major limitations arise from, firstly, the way the Bill attempts to introduce ‘universal’ notions of informed consent into a cultural context of socially determined decisionmaking, resulting in the failure to safeguard the welfare of Indian surrogates. A second limitation is that the proposed law entitles only some poor women (surrogates) in India to realise access to quality medical healthcare services compared to others (poor, infertile women). Given the significant class and gender based inequalities which frame reproductive healthcare service delivery in the country, legally guaranteed access to health services for surrogates becomes a privilege where the rights of some individuals and couples to reproduce and exercise procreative agency is valued and not others. The article argues that the Bill must give due consideration to the complex, relational and highly stratified contexts in which women undertake childbearing in India to understand why legally comprehensive consent procedures can co-exist with violations of personhood in practice. Without such consideration the article suggests that injustice toward infertile women can become part of the same legal process wherein overcoming infertility is recognised as a right.