Edited by Peter Balint, Eszter Kollar, Patti Tamara Lenard and Tiziana Torresi
For many advocates of global justice, one important strategy in fostering development is to address women’s specific development needs. One of the principal aims of this strategy is to improve the status of maternal and infant health, and thereby to improve the status of women more generally. Moreover, such improvements are considered central to the achievement of development goals, since improvements in women’s conditions are believed to translate into development gains for the whole community. For most scholars and practitioners working to eradicate poverty, this focus is unambiguously a good thing, since women (and their children) are among the most vulnerable members of their own communities, and are therefore most likely to suffer from the devastating effects of poverty more generally.
Yet the devastating effects of poverty can be compounded by the ways in which gender bias is so often focused on women’s bodies; the ways in which policy makers’ attempts to control women’s bodies, politically and culturally, serve to preserve their highly vulnerable positions in society. This focus often produces policies that unfairly burden women, including mandatory breastfeeding laws, population control measures, and so on. This special issue of Global Justice: Theory, Practice and Rhetoric focuses on the ways in which women, and their bodies, are the target of deliberate attempts to sustain women’s inferior position and attempts to improve their status, which may nevertheless have unintended negative consequences or be unfairly burdensome.
We especially welcome papers that combine normative and empirical elements, as well as papers that both critique and defend this approach to global poverty eradication. We welcome particularly submissions that deal with questions such as the following:
• How do cultural and institutional forms of gender inequality stand in the way of global poverty eradication? Can cultural and institutional forms of gender inequality be harnessed to serve the cause of global poverty eradication?
• In what ways do cultural/religious/institutional practices that focus on women’s bodies stand in the way of (or serve) global poverty eradication? How should we think about these practices from a normative perspective? Examples might include (but are not limited to) sex-selective abortion, female genital mutilation, international surrogacy arrangements, international adoption, and so on. In what ways do women’s bodies become the vehicle for global poverty eradication? Are these justified? Do they restrict or support women’s agency more generally?
• In what ways does discrimination in health care provision serve to perpetuate women’s vulnerable status in developing and developed states? What is the relevance, for global poverty eradication, of the fact that women’s health outcomes and health access, in most developing states, are lower than men’s? Which policies seem suitable to address this issue?
• From a moral/normative perspective, how should we think about policies that target women’s (and children’s) bodies in the name of global poverty eradication? Examples might include making breastfeeding mandatory (as has been done in Indonesia), drug distribution policies aimed specifically at women, policies aimed at controlling population growth, and conditional cash-transfers to women (contingent on their making sure children stay in school, are vaccinated etc.).
• What are the advantages/disadvantages, from a normative perspective, of targeting women in development policies to eradicate global poverty?
• Should we abandon the focus on women and focus instead on “gender” in our discussions of global poverty eradication? Does a focus on women steer us away from challenges to eradicating poverty that can be overcome only with a more expansive focus on gender?
Deadline for submission: November 30, 2013
For questions or expressions of interest, please contact Patti Tamara Lenard, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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