Now showing items 1-20 of 1187

    • Gender Dynamics of Missionary Work in India and its Impact on Women’s Education: Isabella Thoburn (1840- 1901) - A Case Study

      Nalini, Marthal (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-12)
      This article is a cross-cultural study of the work of the first North American single woman missionary educator Isabella Thoburn who was sent overseas by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The objective of this article is to examine the motives of Isabella, her career in India, and the impact of her work on women’s education. It also highlights the facts that Isabella was an extra-ordinary woman and carved spaces for herself as professional, administrator, mentor, and matriarchs, first in her parent society and then in cross-cultural contexts, for which there was no precedent. The early growth of the institution founded by Isabella enables one to remap the problematic issue of gender and culture. Isabella Thoburn College, one of the liberal Arts women’s colleges in Asia, grew out of Isabella’s class that began with six girls in 1870, and this institution still exists in India.
    • Implications of Missionary Education for Women in Nigeria: A Historical Analysis

      Okonkwo, Uche Uwaezuoke; Ezeh, Mary-Noelle Ethel (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-08)
      Education is a key factor in human development and social transformation. The problematic of women development in Nigeria traces its roots in the type of education dispensed by missionary agencies and the British colonial administration. Christian Missionaries were the first to initiate the development of western education in Nigeria. Government participation first took the form of giving limited financial assistance to voluntary agencies and gradually developed into the recognition of education as the responsibility of the Government. The present study is a historical analysis of the evolution of the development of education in Nigeria in relation to the contemporary women question it seeks to establish the place of girls’ education in the missionary and government overall plan for the education of Nigerian youth. The objective of the study is to demonstrate the significant economic, social and political implications of the government controlled education for women in Nigeria. If women still lag behind in these three key areas of human development, the history of education has had its own contributions to make. The primary source of the study is based on archival data in form of annual and periodic reports, programme of education for boys and girls, statistical information and relevant government publications.
    • Deconstructing <em>Islamization</em> in Pakistan: Sabiha Sumar Wages Feminist <em>Cinematic Jihad</em> through a Documentary Lens

      Imran, Rahat (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-10)
      Over half a billion Muslim women live in vastly different lands, cultures, societies, economies, and political systems. Yet, as Iranian scholar Mahnaz Afkhami points out, Muslim women’s oppressions are similar due to gender-discrimination under Islamic Sharia laws and patriarchal doctrines that are exercised in the name of religion and culture. Pakistan has been a prime example of how religious fundamentalism and politicization of religion can transform a secular society into one held hostage by Islamic extremist doctrines and gender-specific laws. It is a cause for hope and celebration then that its progressive and secular elements, particularly educated, urban women, have continued to wage a struggle against discriminatory socio-political and religious practices through various artistic, political, and activist channels-thereby posing a continuing opposition and challenge to religious fundamentalists that use women as the prime targets for the imposition of their Islamic ideologies and identity. More recently, Pakistani independent women filmmakers have also joined the ranks of this oppositional force, thereby appropriating their right to wage a feminist jihad (struggle). In initiating an anti-fundamentalist cinema category, their cinematic contributions deserve to be recognized as part of a larger feminist agenda against gender discrimination and patriarchal domination.
    • Rural Livelihoods, HIV/AIDS and Women’s Activism: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Primary Education in Uganda

      Kakuru, Doris M. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-08)
      In Uganda, various stake holders including the government, NGOs, and women activists have undeniably played important roles in the combat for gender equality in primary education. However, there is evidence that success has not yet been realized. This article is based on research conducted to discover why gender inequalities in Uganda’s Universal Primary Education persist despite deliberate measures to eradicate them. Two questions are addressed, namely: does HIV/AIDS contribute to the persistence of gender inequality in rural areas? What is the importance of linking theory and practice in women’s activism in such a context? The findings reveal that HIV/AIDS affects household access to essential livelihood assets prompting responses and pathways incompatible with girls’ schooling. These included girls’ involvement in sex for economic gains, which obviously exposed them to the risk of contracting HIV. A vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and gender inequality therefore exists despite women’s protracted engagement in activism even in the era of HIV/AIDS. I argue that there is a need to refocus women’s activism towards more practical rather than theoretical engagement. Apparently, there has been too much theorizing about the need to perceive the achievement of gender equality as a social justice issue. Such a perception must be accompanied by corresponding practice rather than just rhetoric. For example, the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and inequality could possibly be broken by a radical feminist movement capable of, not only advocating for, but also instituting practical measures to eradicate gendered discrimination at the household level to begin with. In addition, there is a need for the provision of better HIV/AIDS medical care and children’s school requirements particularly in rural areas. Thereafter, we shall comfortably count the achievements of women activism for educational gender equity in Uganda and Africa at large.
    • In Search of Equality: Marriage Related Laws for Muslim Women in Bangladesh

      Hossain, Kamrul (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-15)
      The problem of inequality for women in Bangladesh is more social than legal. As regards to the law, except for personal matters, inequalities in the provisions of law are hardly found. Personal matters, however, are regulated by religious laws or customs. In the legal system of Bangladesh though these laws or customs are incorporated separately under the head of Personal Law, these are not, however, as a whole derived from religious laws or customs. Some changes through introducing enactments or promulgating ordinances were made in their application. Still, these have been insufficient to establish equality between women and men. This paper shows how Muslim women are being treated with regard to their Personal Law, in particular marriage and its related law applicable in Bangladesh. Prevailing social constructions of gender are still a fundamental obstacle in realizing the demands of existing law. In order to remove inequalities and impose justice, particularly in marriage-related matters, for both Muslim and non-Muslim women living in Bangladesh, this paper suggests the importance of adopting the Uniform Family Code. At the same time it emphasizes the need for social education and awareness programs through government and non-government institutions.
    • Tactics Against Sexual Harassment: The Role of Backfire

      Scott, Greg; Martin, Brian (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-12)
      To oppose sexual harassment, it is useful to understand tactics commonly used by perpetrators. A useful approach to tactics is through the concept of backfire: if an action is perceived as unjust and information about it is communicated to receptive audiences, it has the capacity to cause outrage and consequently backfire on the perpetrator. Perpetrators regularly use five types of tactics to inhibit outrage: (1) cover-up of the action; (2) devaluation of the target; (3) reinterpretation of the events; (4) use of official channels to give the appearance of justice; and (5) intimidation and bribery of targets, witnesses and others. These tactics are regularly used against targets of sexual harassment. The deployment of these tactics is illustrated through the case of Anita Hill, who in 1991 accused US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. An analysis using the backfire framework offers guidance on effective ways of deterring and countering sexual harassment.
    • Family Law Reform and the Feminist Debate: Actually-Existing Islamic Feminism in the Maghreb and Malaysia

      Archer, Brad (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-11)
      For an increasing number of Muslim women and women’s rights activists, the stark disparity between the principles of justice and equality guaranteed by international and domestic legal norms on the one hand, and the oppressive environment of their homes that is legitimated by repressive family laws on the other, has acted as the catalyst for a unified call for reform. In the Maghreb, an influential Islamic feminist movement has successfully lobbied for family law reform, and this movement’s positivist framework has recently been adopted as the model for Malaysia’s increasingly vociferous demands for gender equality. Although secular feminists in the West frequently criticize the aims of this Islamic feminism as an oxymoronic anti-feminism, the Maghreby movement serves as proof that only an Islamic feminist reform model can serve as a pragmatic challenge to discriminatory laws.
    • Taking a Break from the State: Indian Feminists in the Legal Reform Process

      Iyer, Shruti (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2016-02-20)
      This paper examines the critique of what has been termed as “governance feminism” and analyses its conceptual utility with reference to the legal reform process undertaken in India in the aftermath of the Delhi anti-rape demonstrations of late 2012-early 2013. Governance feminism refers to the process by which feminists influence institutional decisions and policy, and critiques of governance feminism focus on its tendency to maintain an equivalence between womanhood and victimhood, and its blindness to unintended consequences of feminist legal reform. This paper will reflect on the critiques that have been made of governance feminist interaction with the state, and examine their exportability to the Indian context, with reference to Indian feminist engagement with the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) that was set up to make recommendations to the criminal law. I will go on to argue that the critiques that have been made of governance feminist intervention in the West have limited exportability to the Indian context. The insights of the governance feminist critique remain invaluable, and the methodological emphasis that it places on unintended consequences are of relevance to Indian feminists who (like any feminist movement) do not operate as a monolithic movement, but are constantly negotiating unstable political categories and identities. However, this paper will pay attention to the fact that where the Indian feminist movement was self-critical in its recommendations for legal reform, they were largely unsuccessful in having them reflected in the Ordinance and Act later passed. In the light of this, it will argue that while the governance feminist critique tends to espouse taking a break from feminism to account for other justice projects, the Indian feminist’s experience suggests that feminists may be better off taking a break from the state.
    • Faith-based Politics, Enlightened Moderation and the Pakistani Women’s Movement

      Zia, Afiya Shehrbano (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-07)
      Soon after his coup in October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf reassured the Pakistani people that his was not an obscurantist religious agenda. Instead, he referred to the Ata Turk model as his inspiration in his mission to rescue Pakistanis from corrupt democratic governments that had dominated the 1990s. A photo release of him holding two Pekinese dogs in his arms (commonly considered na-paak or unclean by Muslims) and surrounded by his short-haired wife, elderly mother and artist daughter, earned him a seal of approval from progressive upper-classes at home and the international community at large. Unlike the previous dictator, Gen Zia ul Haq, who carried out the oppressive and misogynist Islamisation project between 1977-88, this new-age military ruler seemed to espouse modern, ‘secular’ and liberal credentials. Thereafter began an era that has been dominated by several sociological changes in the country. In this article, three underlying concepts will be explored in relation to these changes and their impact on women. These include a critique of the romanticisation of the agency of women members belonging to the religio-political party in government; the strategic shifts in ideological positioning within the women’s movement; and the impact of the debate over religion and secularism in relation to women’s political reality. This essay discusses the interplay of the understandings and contradictions of Islamic and secular identity politics in the Pakistani women’s movement. The methodology incorporates a reading of existing scholarship as well as observation of feminist activism in the political context of Pakistan.
    • Promoting Gender-Sensitive Justice and Legal Reform in the Palestinian Territories: Perspectives of Palestinian Service Providers

      Chaban, Stephanie (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-04)
      Worldwide, gender-sensitive justice and legal reform has been acknowledged as an important component in improving the status and security of female citizens; in recent decades, such reform has begun in a number of states in the Middle East/North Africa region. In the Palestinian Territories, governmental and non-governmental organizations that render services to women and girls have acknowledged the need to address gender inequality in Palestinian legislation, primarily within the personal status and penal codes by way of reform. This paper presents some findings from working group sessions with Palestinian service providers conducted by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in the West Bank between April and May 2010 for a project entitled “Palestinian Women and Security.” Service providers discussed the impact of the Palestinian legal framework on the (in)security of women and girls and their ability to render services. Working group sessions revealed gaps in current legislation addressing gender-based violence, as well as service providers’ views on women’s awareness of their rights and the obstacles to reform. Recommendations from service providers are also presented.
    • An Assessment of the Constitutional, Legislative and Judicial Measures against Harmful Cultural Practices that Violate Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women in South Africa

      Mubangizi, John Cantius (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2015-07-28)
      Sexual and reproductive rights of women are widely violated and abused in Africa, partly because of numerous gender-based cultural and traditional practices. All these practices exist to varying extents in many African countries—including South Africa. The Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution has several provisions that relate to the protection of sexual and reproductive rights of women, but the Constitution also provides for the right to culture, which allows for traditional and cultural practices—some of which violate certain human rights norms including the sexual and reproductive rights of women. International and constitutional protection notwithstanding, such rights can only be realised and enjoyed if they are given force through constitutional, legislative and judicial measures. This paper explores these three measures. A conceptual understanding of sexual and reproductive rights is presented, before the international dimension of those rights is discussed. The constitutional and legislative framework relating to the relevant cultural practices is then interrogated—before case law from the application and interpretation of that framework in relation to women’s sexual and reproductive rights is analysed. The paper argues that despite the constitutional, legislative and judicial attempts to minimise the clash between cultural practices and the sexual and reproductive rights of women in South Africa, the violation and abuse of such rights still abounds. The paper concludes that legislative intervention does not go far enough, that the courts should be more proactive and assertive on the issues concerned, and that a much more holistic approach—including advocacy, human rights education, a change of patriarchal mind-sets, and political will—is urgently needed.
    • Freedom vis a vis Independence: An Overview in Light of Feminism, Women's Development and Empowerment

      Adhikari, Harasankar (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-08-21)
      Educational development and participation in the workforce are prime factors in the changing situations of women in society. The movement towards equality and justice for women is gradually captivating Indian society as a human development indicator. To examine the views of women on independence vis-à-vis freedom as instruments to achieve equality and justice, 50 girls age between 16 to 26 years were selected purposively adopting a stratified simple random sampling. They were from different socio-economic background living in both rural and urban areas. They were studying in different levels from high school to university. The study has explored their views on their freedom and independence in respect to their romantic relation, marriage, marriage partner and marital relation, family relation, mothering and economic relation. The findings show that the majority of these girls were against male domination but still seek the attachment to males as essential in their lives. They fostered their need for freedom variously in their daily lives without interference of others (especially males). In this connection they would prefer romantic relations and premarital sex. They would settle their conjugal relations through love marriage and its’ stability would depend on liberty and respect of their counterpart. In their opinion their family would be micro-nuclear and they would be the sole decision-makers. They would bear single child and the child would be reared up jointly by them. But they would not allow breast feeding to maintain their physique and beauty. They argued that they would play dual roles of home maker and wage earner for their self dependence in terms of finance. So, they were cultivating their mindset for freedom in certain affairs of their life and it was the prime hindrance of their equity and justice.
    • Legal Injustices: <em>The Zina Hudood Ordinance</em> of Pakistan and Its Implications for Women

      Imran, Rahat (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-12)
      During recent decades the women of Pakistan have been the most vulnerable and convenient targets of social, domestic and sexual violence. This paper will examine the trend of sexual violence against women that emerged in Pakistan with the introduction of the Islamization process through the implementation of the Sharia laws since1979. The paper’s main focus will be on rape and the state legislation that governs it, namely the Zina Hudood Ordinance of 1979 and the Law of Evidence of 1984, and how the gender-discriminatory nature of these laws serves as a powerful weapon in the hands of the patriarchal society of Pakistan to subjugate women. These laws and their rigid interpretation in the name of Islam have not only facilitated oppression and sexual violence against women to an alarming degree in Pakistan, but also seriously eroded women’s chances of equal justice. The factors that led to the implementation and survival of such laws in the first place, and consequently how rape became a daunting weapon against women, will be discussed. The paper will analyze the various political, social, cultural and religious factors that contribute to this situation, and the legal and social complexities involved for women in seeking justice in rape cases. In conclusion, the paper will discuss Pakistani women’s initiative in evolving and building an organized resistance and struggle for the repeal of gender discriminatory laws.
    • Sex and Selfhood: What Feminist Philosophy Can Learn from Recent Ethnography in Ho Chi Minh City

      Foust, Mathew A. (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-08-21)
      This article explores the connection of class dynamics to the moral agency of sex workers and their clients. It revisits the analyses of several contemporary feminist theorists, placing these analyses in dialogue with a recent ethnographic study of the sex work industry in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In light of this comparative analysis, it is argued that accurate understanding and assessment of the moral agency of sex workers and their clients requires attunement to the complex and evolving class dynamics within which each is situated. Thus, while traditional frameworks for approaching this subject are useful, they are ultimately inadequate.
    • The Silencing of Women: The Irish Abortion Laws and Religion

      Wright, Rachael (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-14)
      This essay attempts to look at the unfortunate circumstances that surround women in Ireland in regards to abortion. Rather than looking at the pro- and anti-life arguments which are commonly discussed when approaching abortion issues, I have chosen to concentrate on the legal and ethical matters in Ireland that seem to have control over Irish women’s bodies and consequently their personhood. Through the investigation of the changing Irish laws brought about by the Grogan and X cases, it is possible to understand how religious and patriarchal sentiment has continued to suppress women’s personal choice in regards to abortion. By looking at the support for Roman Catholic morals in Ireland, I suggest that Irish women remain in a weak position with regards to equal life choices due to the fear of public shame that is associated with abortion and aim to show how as a result their voices have been silenced.
    • The Search for an African Feminist Ethic: A Zimbabwean Perspective

      Mangena, Fainos (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-07)
      In the field of ethics, women have been portrayed as inferior to men due to androcentric attitudes (male-dominated ethics) that seems to define men as custodians of what is right or wrong. This andro-centric ethic has taken women out of the academic limelight as they are portrayed as less able to make valuable contributions in philosophy (ethics) and other fields of academic inquiry. It is encouraging to see feminist movements emerging, in the twenty-first century, to challenge this misplaced kind of thinking. This challenge is laudable and in this paper, I make an attempt to show that while women in the West have fought for their place in society resulting in developing ‘the ethics of care,’ women from Africa are still struggling to find their feet. The African woman’s moral point of view is still far from being respected because of the whims and caprices of patriarchy which is camouflaged in the communitarian philosophy of hunhu or ubuntu. Against this background, the paper seeks to show that an African feminist ethic can be developed and the fight for public recognition must begin in the home, taking cognizance of the fact that African women face several challenges as custodians of value. The paper argues that reclaiming motherhood in the context of the fight against HIV and AIDS will be a key step towards the realisation of African women’s moral vision.
    • ‘Starving Children in Africa’: Who Cares?

      Cassidy, Lisa (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-12)
      The current state of global poverty presents citizens in the Global North with a moral crisis: Do we care? In this essay, I examine two competing moral accounts of why those in the North should or should not give care (in the form of charity) to impoverished peoples in the Global South. Nineteen years ago feminist philosopher Nel Noddings wrote in Caring that “we are not obliged to care for starving children in Africa” (1986, p. 86). Noddings’s work belongs to the arena of care ethics – the feminist philosophical view that morality is about responding to, caring for, and preventing harm to those particular people to whom one has emotional attachments. By contrast, Peter Singer’s recent work, One World, advances an impartialist view of morality, which demands that we dispassionately dispense aid to the most needy (2002, p.154). Thus this question needs answering: am I obliged to give care to desperately poor strangers, and if so, which moral framework (Singer’s impartialism, or feminism’s care ethics) gives the best account of that obligation? I argue that as an American feminist I should care for Africans with whom I will never have a personal relationship. However, this obligation can be generated without relying on the impartialist understanding of morality.
    • Deconstructing <em>Islamization</em> in Pakistan: Sabiha Sumar Wages Feminist <em>Cinematic Jihad</em> through a Documentary Lens

      Imran, Rahat (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-10)
      Over half a billion Muslim women live in vastly different lands, cultures, societies, economies, and political systems. Yet, as Iranian scholar Mahnaz Afkhami points out, Muslim women’s oppressions are similar due to gender-discrimination under Islamic Sharia laws and patriarchal doctrines that are exercised in the name of religion and culture. Pakistan has been a prime example of how religious fundamentalism and politicization of religion can transform a secular society into one held hostage by Islamic extremist doctrines and gender-specific laws. It is a cause for hope and celebration then that its progressive and secular elements, particularly educated, urban women, have continued to wage a struggle against discriminatory socio-political and religious practices through various artistic, political, and activist channels-thereby posing a continuing opposition and challenge to religious fundamentalists that use women as the prime targets for the imposition of their Islamic ideologies and identity. More recently, Pakistani independent women filmmakers have also joined the ranks of this oppositional force, thereby appropriating their right to wage a feminist jihad (struggle). In initiating an anti-fundamentalist cinema category, their cinematic contributions deserve to be recognized as part of a larger feminist agenda against gender discrimination and patriarchal domination.
    • Reflections on Islamic Identity, Citizenship Rights and Women’s Struggle For Gender Justice: Illustration From India

      Hussain, Sabiha (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-09)
      Women’s rights face an uncertain future throughout much of the Islamic world. The fate of women’s rights throughout the Islamic world crucially hinges upon the outcome of debates on reforms of family and penal codes including new understandings of Islamic law and teaching. It requires mention that there is no monolithic trend of women’s struggle for gender justice even in Islamic countries. It varies with the cultural setting, the political structure of the state and the location of the community. In the Islamic world, the question of gender justice often becomes a struggle to be fought at two levels: against the forces of conservatism in society and against its anti-democratic effects on the political structure of the country. There is growing tension between gender justice and rising conservatism. Fundamentalist forces try to impose greater control over women, even though this approach may or may not have to do anything with religion. In such a context, Muslim women face several new dilemmas. Do they stand with their community under attack and hold in abeyance their struggle against the fundamentalist leaders or do they foreground their critique of Islamic conservatism at a time when imperialism uses women’s unequal status under Islamic law to garner ideological support for their imperial project? A similar dilemma is faced by Muslim women in India as members of a minority community faced with majoritarian communalism. A significant challenge before Muslim women is to find ways to overcome the dilemma and question the foundations of Islamic law where it is incompatible with democratic rights without compromising their sense of solidarity with their community. What must be done to overcome the practical hurdles that stand in the way of reconciling Islam with universal principles of women’s rights? How can Muslim feminists win the interpretive struggle against the conservatives?
    • Lies, Damn Lies and Public Protection: Corporate Responsibility and Breast Cancer Activism

      Potts, Laura (Virtual Commons - Bridgewater State University, 2013-01-18)
      Introduction: The first world conference on breast cancer, held in Kingston, Ontario, in July 1997, provided a unique opportunity for activists, concerned about the possible links between breast cancer and the environment, to share their concerns in an international forum, with oncologists, radiologists, epidemiologists, survivors and alternative therapists. It also clearly exposed the fracture lines between competing discourses of risk and responsibility, between groups charged with a duty to protect and to care - health professionals, epidemiologists, statutory bodies, and those taking on those duties - generally activists, from environmental, feminist and survivor groups. These lines were even more clearly drawn at the second world conference in summer 1999 in Ottawa, particularly by the popular and medical media, which chose to stress the ‘radical’ (i.e. ‘dubious’) claims of many of the papers which considered breast cancer risks from the environment. The fundamental question that concerns me here is an explicitly ethical one: if we must act to prevent harm (and presuming for the moment the not uncontroversial assumption that disease is a harm), that is to say, if we are to act morally, then what counts as necessary and sufficient evidence to act? This, I think, is the ethical dimension to activism neglected or hidden in other formulations; Cuomo, for instance, defines activism as “conscious, purposeful, political activity” (1996:43), which seems to ignore the sense of moral duty and responsibility that characterises confrontational activity from the margins and which I want to consider here.