Gender and Race Matter: Global Perspectives on Being a Woman: Volume 21

Cover of Gender and Race Matter: Global Perspectives on Being a Woman

Table of contents

(23 chapters)
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Introduction

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Part I: Women’s Rights, Activism, Education and Empowerment

Purpose

This chapter offers a critical outline of the Egyptian feminist movement. It traces the forms of feminist activism and the demands raised by Egyptian feminists throughout the twentieth century and into the new millennium.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses the tools of feminist theory and women’s history in charting a critical outline of the Egyptian women’s movement and feminist activism throughout a century of Egyptian history. The study attempts to identify the main features of the movement in terms of the demands raised by women and the challenges and achievements involved within the socio-political national and international contexts.

Findings

The Egyptian feminist movement is divided here into four waves, highlighting the intersections between feminist demands and national demands, as well as Egyptian women’s struggle for their rights. The first wave is seen as focusing on women’s right to public education and political representation. The second wave is marked by women’s achievement of constitutional and legal rights in the context of state feminism. The third wave is characterised by feminist activism in the context of civil society organising. The fourth wave has extended its struggle into the realm of women’s bodies and sexuality.

Research implications/limitations

The study limits itself to forms of women’s agency and feminist activism in the public sphere.

Originality/value

This chapter is an original attempt at outlining the Egyptian women’s movement based on the demands raised and challenges faced. The chapter also suggests the existence of a sense of continuity in the Egyptian women’s movement.

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Purpose

This chapter analyses the strategies employed by women and youth political activists in Iran in the context of changes engendered by the neo-liberal policies pursued by successive governments since the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis in this chapter is based on semi-structured interviews conducted by the author with women and youth activists in Iran in 2015. This qualitative data is contextualised within a theoretical discussion of the nature of the Iranian state, the impact of neo-liberal policies, and debates surrounding gender and neo-liberalism.

Findings

Contrary to the view of politics in Iran as a battle between hard-line religious fundamentalists and moderates, this chapter argues that it is not the religious nature of the state but its neo-liberal policies that have made it more difficult for women and youth activists to mobilise against the exclusionary policies of the state. In response activists in Iran have developed and articulated strategies of resistance to and accommodation with the Islamic Republic’s neo-liberal project.

Originality/value

The chapter breaks with prevailing socio-cultural analyses of women’s rights in Iran and provides a critique of prevalent ideas of women’s rights as innately connected to liberal and specifically neo-liberal forms of politics and governance.

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Purpose

This chapter addresses Bangladeshi female students’ experiences of higher education in the United Kingdom through the race/gender trajectory. Research shows that although minority ethnic women invest heavily in education, they go on to face obstacles in the labour market. However, there is a strong desire to study which is evident in the increasing numbers of Bangladeshi women applying to university since 1994. The chapter draws on empirical research with women who have claimed a kind of ‘agentic autonomy’ to pursue education in the face of structural inequalities.

Design/methodology/approach

The chapter is based on research conducted with a sample of Bangladeshi women studying at or recently graduated from university. Qualitative research was carried out in the form of semi-structured interviews with 13 participants.

Findings

The study finds that Bangladeshi women are undeterred by structural inequalities in higher education and employment. Although they expect to face some difficulty finding suitable employment, they are optimistic about the future. They represent a group of women who have been able to achieve their objectives to study at degree level and show aspirations towards achieving similar objectives after graduation.

Originality/value

Bangladeshi women show agency and agentic behaviour to negotiate access to higher education institutions. This will, in the future have a knock-on effect in employment.

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Purpose

This chapter demonstrates that women challenge oppressive gender relations by engaging in active agency at different levels. Iranian women’s struggles for gender equality show a critical consciousness of the politics of local male domination and an indigenous contestation of the cultural practices which sanction injustices against women.

Design/methodology/approach

This chapter is based on the findings and analysis of the book, Women, Power and Politics in 21st Century in Iran. It is the result of the political and personal experiences of a number of Iranian women academics, journalist and activists who live and work in Iran.

Findings

Based on the updated findings and new statistical data, this chapter argues that women, despite their high level of education and activism, continue to face gender inequality, in particular in the sphere of employment.

Social implications

This chapter is intended to counter the often inaccurate and misleading impressions put forward by the media, politicians and some academics in the West when they talk about Iranian women. Within the broader feminist theoretical positioning, the aim of this chapter is to contribute to the debate on essentialism and the stereotype of Iranian women as submissive Muslim women without agency.

Originality/value

Feminist knowledge production is diverse. Nonetheless, consideration of the historical and geographical locations of feminist knowledge production is vital to our understanding of the complex processes of women’s liberation. Thus, Iranian women’s voices are important to what is traditionally understood as feminism.

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Part II: Sexuality and Gender Security: India and Africa

Purpose

This chapter deals with the concept of intersectionality with particular reference to the interconnectedness of gender, class and caste discrimination in India. Even though much of the work on intersectionality has been carried out by scholars from the United States with specific emphasis on gender and race, this framework can be applied universally to understand the multiple axes of power within a society that results in further marginalisation of certain groups of women. The 16th December 2012 Nirbhaya rape case forms the core of this chapter as it resulted in one of the biggest gender movements in India.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to develop a critical analysis a case study approach was adopted and data collected by analysing online news reports, videos, articles on blogs and posts on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

Findings

The findings of the research showed interesting intersections of gender and class with relation to this case, which has not been deeply analysed in order to understand the reasons behind the public uprising which resulted in the government action.

Originality/value

It is important to look at gender violence in India through the lens of intersectionality since often it is the result of multiple levels of discrimination on the basis of class, caste, religion and geography. This is important to recognise in order to ensure that activism, education and changes in policy help to resolve problems related to extreme oppression and violence against women across the country.

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Purpose

The chapter seeks to examine how local women’s groups in Burundi and Liberia have responded to the opportunities offered by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and how transnational understandings of gender security have affected the way the locals advocate for gender policies at home.

Design/methodology/approach

Through discussion of data collected during extended fieldwork, the chapter illustrates the internal negotiation process between the international and the local elements of the transnational campaign for the implementation of Resolution 1325. The chapter first looks at the processes of identity creation and learning that enable local activists to adapt to transnational understandings of gender security. Second, it looks at the (re)production and adaptation of those understandings in local campaigns for gender security in post-conflict1 Burundi and Liberia.

Findings

The chapter demonstrates how a very particular discourse on ‘gender security’ is used and reproduced through power relations between local and transnational activists, thereby enabling certain practices and policies to become natural and the best possible option.

Social implications

This implies that while transnational advocacy networks help grassroots social movements to be heard at international fora, these networks also impose certain discourses and practices, contributing to a depoliticisation of the grassroots activity.

Originality/value

Understanding how transnational advocacy networks negotiate and transform local women’s rights discourses is all the more important since these transnational networks have been considered as moral authorities in the global political arena.

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Purpose

This chapter focuses on gender, sexuality and security in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology includes secondary analysis of policy and research with the aim of highlighting and assessing the position of gender, sex and security in post-Apartheid South Africa. Feminist theory and intersectionality are used to discuss issues of sexuality, security, construction of gender relationships and experiences of being a woman in South Africa. The normalisation of violence against women is challenged.

Social implications

The social implications of this research are that it challenges normalisation of gendered violence, questions gendercide and produces knowledge of a gendered social reality of living in South Africa. Women who consider assault a regular feature of their sexual relationships have been brought into a discourse which includes the liberalisation of sexual expression, claims to new sexual rights and aspirations to power and status through sexual relationships (Posel, 2005a).

Practical implications

Throughout the chapter the achievement of gender equality is problematised and questioned. However, gender and the relationship between power and sex remain at the centre of the inquiry, particularly with reference to the increasing culture of violence and men as the perpetrators of violence against women.

Originality/value

According to Posel ‘one of the most striking features of the post-apartheid era has been the politicization of sexuality’ (2005a, p. 125) and this chapter demonstrates that a response to the violation of the Women’s Charter of Effective Equality, passed in 2000, is a priority as women and families are disproportionately affected by violence in multiple ways.

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Part III: Women’s Bodies, Nation and Performance

Purpose

Historically, as a result of complex intersections of marginalisation, women and girls in India are known to have had less access to economic and social capital than men and boys. Progress on poverty alleviation and the advancement of women’s and girls’ development continues to be slow and has even been described as ‘regressive’ (UN Women, 2015). This chapter provides a microanalysis of experiences and perceptions of gender and poverty in Mumbai, India. It puts forward new insights into everyday forms of agency, resistance and subversion while confronting western centric ideas around development and colonialist notions of victimhood.

Design/methodology/approach

Based upon research conducted in 2012–2013, the qualitative study adopting a multi-methods approach draws on participatory action research, participant observation and ethnography. This chapter draws on a small number of interviews from the original sample of 40 participants.

Research implications/limitations

This chapter is based on findings from a small research sample.

Findings

The study finds evidence that confirms experiences of gendered poverty permeate across class divides, suggesting that access to economic capital does not necessarily result in equitable gender relations. The findings also uncover the diverse ways in which women and adolescent girls strategise and negotiate to acquire agency, through acts of resistance and/or subversion.

Originality/value

There are two key aspects of this research that can be considered original: the use of a multi-methods approach and by bringing together of a combination of different voices. The theoretical and sociological contribution of this research lies in showcasing the value of expanding the definition of poverty and gender beyond a purely economic analysis.

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Purpose

This chapter analyses a range of media outputs produced to raise awareness of the campaign of forced sterilisation conducted in Peru during the period 1993–1998. Focusing in detail on the Quipu Project the authors investigate the ways in which different media configure differently witness subjects, audiences and listeners. The chapter also analyses the effectiveness of these media outputs within the contexts of human rights discourses.

Design/methodology/approach

The chapter is framed by narrative theories of documentary video production, new media technology and intermediality. The authors also draw on theories of witnessing that have emerged in critical studies of witness testimony in video and new media. It uses secondary data, that is, the testimonies of women already collected, selected and, in most cases, edited by documentary makers and campaigners.

Findings

The case studies compare the ways in which conventional video documentary and techniques of digital storytelling transform the content of women’s testimony.

Research implications/limitations

Funding limitations have meant that progress on the site was, at the time of writing, temporarily suspended. We therefore analysed the pilot, or prototype, of the Quipu Project, which should be viewed as a work in progress. However, a more developed site for the Quipu Project went live after the chapter was completed.

Originality/value

This chapter represents the first attempt to analyse the effectiveness of an experimental project such as the Quipu Project. The authors were given access by the curators of the project to the site at various stages of its construction. The chapter provides insights into the potential of digital technology to create opportunities for media outputs to internationalise interventions into campaigns for justice and reparation.

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Purpose

This chapter sets up the national event of Carnival in Trinidad as a contested space of liberation and tradition. It explores the intersections of gender and race for a group of young Indian Trinidadian women and highlights the ways in which agency, articulated as sexual liberation and ‘free-up’, is enabled and disabled in relation to mas1 performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on ethnographic research conducted in Trinidad in 2011 (Raghunandan, K. (2014). The Dougla poetics of Indianness: Negotiating race and gender in Trinidad. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leeds), this chapter draws on a selection of interviews conducted with a group of young Indian Trinidadian women between the ages of 18 and 25.

Findings

The binaristic positioning of modern, morally destructive masquerader vis-à-vis the traditional non-participant is an inadequate approach and this has, to a significant extent, dominated media representations of Indian women which draw on these monolithic stereotypes. There are many ways of ‘doing’ gender and race. Playing mas is only one of them.

Research implications/limitations

These findings are in no way representative of the entire Indian descent population, nor can the young women’s talk be regarded as wholly representative of their lives. Rather, these are a snapshot of their discursively produced subjectivities within a particular time and space.

Originality/value

By problematising the mixed and multicultural image of Carnival, this chapter makes a contribution to Carnival scholarship in its analysis of Indian Trinidadian women’s voices which do not typically feature in Carnival literature. In its drawing upon these voices as epistemological sources, it makes a contribution to wider discourses of race, gender and the nation in the Trinidadian context.

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Purpose

The chapter explores how gender has been an integral part of the nation building project in post-liberalisation Hindi cinema, popularly, known as Bollywood.

Design/methodology/approach

This chapter is based on primary data gathered through interviews with prominent members of the Hindi film industry along with a detailed content analysis of commercially successful post-liberalisation mainstream Hindi films.

Findings

It highlights how the representation of gender has been a central axis around which the tension between tradition and modernity has been played out in Hindi Cinema. The construction of Indianness post-liberalisation has questioned gender politics but proposed easy resolutions which fit into the larger nationalist narrative. In doing so, it has used the diaspora as a category to produce a nationalist account which is simultaneously essentialised and transnational in the quest for projecting India’s aspirations on the global platform.

Originality/value

The chapter provides important insights into the role of popular Hindi cinema, often brushed off as frivolous, in contributing to the mainstream discourse on nationalism post-liberalisation.

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Part IV: Having a Voice: Literature and Poetry

Purpose

This chapter examines the current incarnation of African literature as written by a younger generation, less concerned with writing back to the colonial empire, and more with examining issues of migration and the consequences of living in diaspora. It contrasts the concerns and experiences of the older generation of African writers such as Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiongo with the current generation, especially Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Mukoma wa Ngugi.

Design/methodology/approach

It engages in literary and cultural analyses of selected texts, revealing how a range of current issues, such as women’s rights, are discussed therein.

Findings

A new generation of African writers, many having already been through the migratory experience before writing, are engaging a range of issues that are no longer identical to those concerning writers of the immediate colonial experience. Issues of sexuality, migration and post-independence challenges become prominently articulated.

Originality/value

Women’s rights were raised by an earlier generation of African women writers and are seen now not so much as radical positions but as assessments of how men and women are socialised. The ways in which people are encouraged or discouraged from articulating full equality as part of the larger critique of post-independence African states is a focus.

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Suha

Pages 249-260
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About the Authors

Pages 263-268
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Cover of Gender and Race Matter: Global Perspectives on Being a Woman
DOI
10.1108/S1529-2126201621
Publication date
2016-08-24
Book series
Advances in Gender Research
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-037-4
Book series ISSN
1529-2126