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Voicing Demands

Voicing Demands

Sohela Nazneen | Maheen Sultan


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Voicing Demands is a collection of analytical narratives of what has happened to feminist voice, a key pathway to women’s empowerment. These narratives depart from the existing debate on women’s political engagement in formal institutions to examine feminist activism for building and sustaining constituencies through raising, negotiating and legitimizing women’s voice under different contexts. Bringing together the reflections and experiences of feminist researchers and activists in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, this unique volume explores how various global trends, such as the development of transnational linkages, the rise of conservative forces, the NGOization of feminist movements, and an increase in the power of donors, have created opportunities and challenges for feminist voice and activism.
Sohela Nazneen is a professor of international relations at University of Dhaka and a lead researcher at the BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, Bangladesh. Maheen Sultan is one of the founders of the Centre for Gender and Social Transformation at the BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, a regional centre on research, teaching and policy related to gender and social transformation. She is a development practitioner with over 25 years’ experience working for NGOs, donors, the UN, Grameen Bank and the Bangladeshi government in a range of capacities, from direct programme management to policy formulation. She co-edited Mapping Women’s Empowerment: Experiences from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (2009).
'Feminist movements and organizations have been key drivers of progressive change in the global South and are an essential part of any policy or scholarly engagement with development issues. While much of the literature on women's movements focuses on policy impacts, this collection puts feminist activism and voice at its centre. The authors, all with insider experience of Africa, the Middle East or Latin America, provide a rich analysis of the challenges and opportunities that feminists are faced with in today's rapidly changing political environment. This book is a most welcome contribution to the literature on women's movements and must-read for students of politics, feminism and development studies.' Maxine Molyneux, professor and director, UCL Institute of the Americas 'Voicing Demands makes an unique contribution to feminist theorizing on development by elucidating the links between voice, feminist activism and transitional contexts. Contributed to by Southern feminist activists and academics and covering a range of transitional countries, it overturns post-Beijing gender and development orthodoxies about "voice" and its assumed positive linear connection to influence and replaces it with a rich heterodoxy of contingent, contextual and often compromised experience of voice in feminist activism.' Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, feminist, gender and development scholar and co-author of Creating Voice and Carving Space: Redefining Governance from a Gender Perspective 'Political transitions are opportunities for feminists to renegotiate the terms of citizenship. But they have also seen the appearance of newly assertive, even militant patriarchies. This very timely volume of essays by experienced feminist scholar-activists brings authoritative and sobering reflections on the complexities of building authentic feminist constituencies in developing country contexts in which the imperatives of equal rights for previously excluded groups of women can be distorted by a range of transnational forces, whose legal frameworks, financial resources and networks can both legitimate and undermine domestic feminist projects. The impressive achievements and the serious new obstacles faced by women's rights advocates in transitional contexts, and the feminist movement strategies in response, show the fundamentals of an inclusive politics of self-determination in the context of globalization.' Anne Marie Goetz, chief advisor, peace and security, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (UN Women)

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front cover Front cover
Feminisms and Development i
About the editors ii
Title iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Acknowledgements vii
Preface ix
Introduction | Voicing Demands: Feminist Activism in Transitional Contexts 1
Voice: our initial assumptions and frames of reference 4
Transitional contexts and global forces: implications for feminist voice 6
Feminism and the politics of channelling collective voice and representation 16
Conclusions 24
Notes 25
References 26
1 Well-Chosen Compromises? Feminists Legitimizing Voice in Bangladesh 29
The context of feminist activism in Bangladesh 31
Case study organizations 33
Table 1.1 Case study organizations 34
Strategies used for mobilizing support and organizing voice: gains, trade-offs and compromises 35
Conclusions: implications of these strategies for feminist voice 49
Acknowledgements 53
Notes 53
References 54
2 Feminisms in Brazil: Voicing and Channelling Women’s Diverse Demands 56
Feminisms and feminist voice in Brazil: the recent past 59
The last two decades 62
Voicing diversity 64
Conflict and solidarity 69
Table 2.1 Profile of participants in major women’s conferences – Brazil 71
Table 2.2 Differences between the CNMB and CNPM 73
Conclusion 76
Note 78
References 78
3 The South African Revolution: Protracted or Postponed? 82
Apartheid era (1982–90) 83
The Mandela period (1994–9) 86
The Mbeki period (1999–2008) 91
The Zuma period (2008 to present) 95
Feminist voice in South Africa: fragmented and challenged within the state and the political arena? 100
Conclusions 108
Notes 112
References 115
4 Voicing Autonomy through Citizenship: The Regional Nationality Campaign and Morocco 118
Historical aspects of nationality 119
The regional campaign for women’s right to pass their nationality on to their family 121
The nationality campaign in Morocco 124
The Moroccan campaign for the right to transmit mothers’ nationality to their children 128
The importance of political process in the nationality reform 134
The politics of negotiating international funding 138
The current state of campaign progress 141
Conclusion 142
Acknowledgement 145
Notes 145
References 148
5 Motivated by Dictatorship, Muted by Democracy: Articulating Women’s Rights in Pakistan 152
The Ayub Khan years (1958–69): a promising start? 155
The Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto years (1971–7): constitutional rights for women 156
Motivated by General Zia’s dictatorship (1977–88): the birth of women’s NGOs 157
Women’s muted voices in democracies (1988–99) 159
Enlightened dictatorship (1999–2008) 161
Voice and representation 165
Democracy or dictatorship? 166
Increasing Islamist influences 169
Can democracy deliver? 172
Post-feminist activist voices and their challenge 175
Future challenges 179
Conclusion 181
Notes 182
References 184
6 Feminist Voices and the Regulation, Islamization and Quango-ization of Women’s Activism in Mubarak’s Egypt 187
Women’s feminist activism in Egypt 191
The limitations of voice as a proxy for feminist agency 195
The visible and hidden regulation of women’s activism 198
Women mobilizing around bread and pay 199
Women mobilizing around Islamist ideology 202
Women mobilizing through Quangos 205
Conclusion 210
Postscript (written 1 September 2013) 211
Acknowledgements 215
Notes 215
References 216
7 The Many Faces of Feminism: Palestinian Women’s Movements Finding a Voice 219
Context: positioning the Palestinian women’s movement 220
Obstacles to advancing women’s demands 228
Where are we now? Women’s unfinished liberation and state formation 231
Theoretical issues in women’s activism 235
Conclusions 245
Acknowledgements 248
Notes 249
References 249
About the Contributors 252
Index 256
Back cover Back cover