Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated globally. To mark the occasion, we’re showcasing the blog articles on women’s struggles for gender equality that we’ve published on Bliss over the past five years. We hope that the articles inspire further action and discussion. Happy International Women’s Day!
Seed keepers, memory keepers: native women and food sovereignty | Leila Rezvani | March 8, 2019
When North America was colonised, the relationship of indigenous people with food was also colonised. But a group of women acting as seed keepers for their communities are fighting back, practicing decolonisation in their daily work and addressing the legacy of food colonisation through the reclamation of seeds and the traditions, practices, and affective relations that nurture human-plant-environment relationships and keep Native communities thriving, healthy, and connected.
Dilemmas for aid agencies working in Afghanistan under Taliban’s gender apartheid rule | Dorothea Hilhorst | January 12, 2023
In late December 2022, the Taliban announced that aid organizations would no longer be allowed to employ women. It was the next step in a series of measures that make it increasingly impossible for Afghan women to study, live or think independently. In response, many aid organizations have stopped their work, others are continuing. What will be the effect of all this and where are the boundaries for continuing assistance?
Why gender matters to social movements | Stacey Scriver and G. Honor Fagan | January 20, 2020
There are right and left, radical and conservative social movements at work in today’s volatile and unequal world. Whether directed towards a transformative social justice agenda or not, social movements themselves do not exist outside of the structures of power. Even among social movements directed towards deep social justice, gender inequality remains a key concern, since gender-related inequalities persist, both within the movements themselves, as well as in their recognition, support and the response to them.
Morocco’s ‘ninjas’: The hidden figures of agricultural growth | Lisa Bossenbroek and Margreet Zwarteveen | December 6, 2018
In Morocco’s Saïss region an agricultural boom is unfolding, premised on a process of labour hierarchisation shaped along gender lines. Female wageworkers find themselves at the lowest strata and take little pride in their work and are stigmatised. In such a context, how are rural women able to engage in agricultural wage work without losing their dignity and without being stigmatised? What can we learn from their daily working experiences?
Professional indigenous women acting to transform urban spaces in Mexico: methodological reflections | Azucena Gollaz and Marina Cadaval | March 7, 2023
Research practices often still do not adequately recognize the multiple points of views, experiences, and knowledges of those we work with. In the process, the meanings that people give to their own lives and to reality are often overlooked, which silences subjective interpretations. In this blog, we share some reflections on the methodological process developed while carrying out a project about the right to the city with indigenous women in Guadalajara, Mexico. Thinking of research as a living system comprising numerous collaborative gears turned and interlocked by different types of support can help us do research more mindfully and responsibly.
‘Empty’ laws and Peruvian women’s ongoing struggle for therapeutic abortion | Zoya Waheed and Romina Manga Cambria | March 15, 2019
Laws and regulations are policy tools that are seen as strong and effective in securing rights, but should we assume that this is always the case? Looking at therapeutic abortion, evidence from Peru leads us to believe otherwise. Legislation of protection laws often fails to be translated into practice.
Moving beyond women as victims in post-conflict peacebuilding efforts in Liberia | Christo Gorpudolo | January 27, 2020
Liberia, a war-torn country for much of the 1990s, initiated several post-conflict peacebuilding programmes with the hope of building sustainable peace. But a study of the Palava Hut Program as a transitional justice mechanism showed that such efforts can be thwarted by the reduction of women to victims of war. The opportunity to rebuild gender relations damaged during wars can be missed in the process. Besides rethinking the link between women and victimhood, women’s inclusion in peacebuilding programmes based on lived experiences can help to equalize men and women in the peacebuilding process, argues Christo Gorpudolo.
Reclaiming the space for feminism in development practice: the role of ‘femocrats’ | Clara Mi Young Park | July 1, 2019
In spite of international pledges to gender equality and development that leaves no one behind, the current wave of populism and autarchy is materializing in the form of resurging patriarchy, oppression and exclusion. This has spurred a counter movement of feminist activism across the globe. At this juncture, this article discusses the role of feminists in development organizations that can and must also do their part to promote change that is premised on gender and social justice.
‘EleNão!’ ‘NotHim!’ Women’s resistance to ‘the Brazilian Donald Trump’ | Marina Graciolli de Paiva | October 2, 2018
The run-up to the Brazilian presidential election to be held on 7 October reminds spectators of the coming to power of Donald Trump two years ago. Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician, is running for the election, and while many are cheering him on, others are watching aghast as he heads the polls. In this article, Marina Graciolli de Paiva looks at the implications of the election of Bolsonaro and shows how the Brazilian women’s resistance movement is countering the rise of a fascist government.
Why should there be spaces for queer women, led by queer women? | Heather Tucker | November 17, 2017
NGO’s which receive funding from HIV interventions as well as international LGBT donors are interested in expanding their diversity efforts, for instance by including queer women in their training on human rights. However, NGOs underestimate the working of intersectionality and fail to grasp why it is important for queer women to be understood on their own terms, recognizing their specific problems and enabling their separate organizations.
#MeToo and the need for safe spaces in academia | Brenda Rodríguez, Bruna Martinez and Vira Mistry | June 2, 2020
Initiated back in 2006 by African-American civil rights activist Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement exploded in 2017 during the sexual misconduct scandal of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein when actress Alyssa Milano asked her Twitter followers from across the world to share their experiences of sexual harassment. As the hashtag went viral, a number of others also emerged, shedding light on sexual harassment in specific sectors. This included the #MeTooAcademia and #ScienceToo hashtags that highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment in academic spaces and the need for change.
The power and limits of women’s collective agency in fragile contexts: from pastoralist communities to refugee environments | Holly A Ritchie |March 6, 2018
Women’s groups and networks have been cited as key instruments for fostering women’s pathways of social and economic empowerment. Yet, with limits to collective agency, Holly Ritchie argues that the emergence of broader women’s movements and struggles remains cautious and constrained in a context of fragility.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered: a study of witchcraft accusation in Northern Ghana | Issah Wumbla | January 14, 2019
Witchcraft accusation and consequent banishment that still persists globally can be viewed as a form of violence against women and children. While it is believed that women are accused of witchcraft mainly due to their socio-economic status, an intersectional analysis of witchcraft accusation in Northern Ghana shows that other factors also contribute.
Revolution and music: women singing out in Sudan | Katarzyna Grabska and Azza Ahmed A. Aziz | August 12, 2019
With the attention to Sudanese women musicians actively participating in the current uprising in Sudan, this article reflects on the history of women’s involvement in music and how their performances have acquired political claims over time.
When children have children: Can postponing early motherhood help children survive longer? | Sofia K. Trommlerová | September 21, 2020
In 2010, approximately 34% of young women in developing countries – some 67 million – married before reaching 18 years of age. An additional 14-15 million women will marry as children or adolescents every year in the coming decades. Child marriages lead to pregnancies and childbirths at an early age, which can have negative consequences for the health of both mother and child. Does the age at which motherhood takes place matter, and can postponing motherhood into adulthood help increase the chances of children surviving beyond five years of age? My study of teen pregnancies amongst Bangladeshi girls shows that age does matter, and it matters quite a lot.
There’s no stopping feminist struggles in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic | Agustina Solera and Brenda Rodríguez Cortés | December 10, 2020
As the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign draws to a close today, Agustina Solera and Brenda Rodríguez Cortés reflect on the challenges women in Latin America have faced over the past year and how, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they have stood strong as ever, braving the particularly difficult conditions that they have had to face this year.
Challenging humanitarianism beyond gender as women and women as victims | Dorothea Hilhorst, Holly Porter and Rachel Gordon | March 7, 2018
Problematic assumptions related to women’s position and role in humanitarian crises are unpacked in a special issue of the journal Disasters on gender, sexuality and violence. The main lesson drawn from the special issue is that aid actors should tread carefully and seriously invest in their capacity to carefully monitor the intended and unintended effects of programming on gender relations.
Feminist political ecology in research and action | Wendy Harcourt | March 8, 2018
On 8 March 2018, Professor Wendy Harcourt will be inaugurated at the International Institute of Social Studies, becoming one of the few female professors at the Erasmus University. This blog is a reflection of her personal journey to professorship and on the ‘Well-being, Ecology, Gender and Community’ (WEGO-ITN) project that she heads, which will be launched on the same day at the ISS.
Menstruation: from concealed topic to part of the public agenda | Jacqueline Gaybor | March 5, 2018
Menstruation and its multiple social, economic, environmental, health and technological dimensions surprisingly is starting to be discussed globally, in multiple arenas and under very different and sometimes opposing frameworks. But how is this issue positioned at this early stage of an emerging research agenda? Which actions have been implemented? This blog is a reflection on the importance of thinking outside the box.
There’s so much we still have to do to address gender injustices once and for all | Lize Swartz | March 8, 2021
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, but as always, there are some positive developments we can commend and others that we should be horrified about. The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly exacerbated gender injustices and created new gender inequalities. At the same time we can fortunately witness the strengthening of discussions on gender relations and things we’re still doing wrong (and those things we’re setting right). We’ve reached the tip of the iceberg and the rest – the assumptions and silences that perpetuate gender injustices – lurk beneath the surface, a silent colossus standing between us and real progress. In this post, we celebrate attempts to chip away at those parts of gender relations that are less visible, but just as crucial to address.
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