The CSS Blog Network

Mediation Perspectives: Dealing with the Problem of Patriarchy

Hanaa El Degham’s graffiti of women queuing for cooking-gas canisters instead of standing in the voting line on the day of the post revolution parliamentary elections. Image: Mia Gröndahl (© 2013).

This article is based on a collection of insights published in “Gender in Mediation: An Exercise Handbook for Trainers”, produced by the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich in November 2015.

How can conflicts be resolved without one side imposing their view of what is right and good on the other side? This is at the heart of mediation as a method to deal with conflict, and also at the heart of a transformative understanding of gender equality. Both approaches question paternalistic and patriarchic ways of resolving conflict, where a leader decides what is right for others without listening to their views. Rather than seeing gender equality as a question of political correctness and normative necessity, we should explore it as a fundamental shift in how we shape societies and deal with conflict: questioning patriarchy and fostering cooperative decision-making processes. » More

Book Review: Waging Gendered Wars

Image: TheKillerAngel/Flickr

This article was originally published by USApp – American Politics and Policy, a blog hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have engendered significant scholarly focus on discourses of war. Consequently, an emerging body of literature is providing critical insights into many facets of war, especially in response to the unprecedented expansion on women’s military participation. » More

Being Italian and a Woman These Days

Photo: Associazione Orlando/flickr

Italy is one of those countries where a lot of wild contradictions regarding gender, misfortune, and economic circumstance can occur simultaneously. Take the word “mignotta,” which is Roman dialect for “whore,” “bitch,” or “slut”—when referring to a woman. Or a gay man. Or a transsexual man. Or, for that matter, simply an untidy woman. But which originally, back in the Middle Ages, was an acronym referring to an abandoned child whose mother was unknown to the local authorities.

Nothing since that time has changed much in Italy, a country where it is still (a) not a good idea to be a woman, if you can possibly avoid it, and (b) a great place to be a woman, but only under special circumstances. Such as if you’re extremely beautiful, very young, and never met former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. » More

Passport-Shaped Boxes

Male/Female Sign

Gender: depends which way you look at it, photo courtesy Brian Suda/flickr

Humans like to categorize and classify things – it helps make life easier. Well, at least some people’s lives. For others, trying to squeeze themselves into these boxes is nearly impossible.

So the news that Australia has decided to allow people to select “X” as a gender on their passports – as opposed to M(ale) or F(emale) – comes as welcome relief to the transgender and intersex communities. Back in 2009, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission undertook a study into the issues surrounding the legal recognition of sex and gender in official documents.  The participants’ comments were enlightening.

It surprised me to find that Australia is not the first state to (officially) acknowledge gender possibilities beyond the simple male/female dichotomy. Other groups have already successfully petitioned for an alternative choice: in India, the hijra can use “E” for ‘eunuch’, and in Bangladesh they can choose “Other”.

However, being able to choose this third option in Australia is currently restricted to those able to support their claim with a doctor’s statement. Why should this be the case? The Yogyakarta Principles state that it should be an individual’s self-defined identity which matters. Indeed, it got me wondering why on earth gender needs to be listed in a passport at all.

In the Australian Human Rights Report mentioned above, the main concern was apparently “national security”. Australian senator Louise Pratt stated that this reform “was a major improvement for travelers facing questioning and detention at airports because their appearance does not match their gender status.” But why does that matter? Surely it is more critical that their face matches the photo. So once more, why does gender need to be listed in a passport?

But, since we’re playing the categorization game, which box would you put internationally renowned model Andrej Pejic in — so as to no longer pose a threat to national security?

Update (20 Sep): It seems that the UK government is now asking itself the same question on whether gender needs to be listed in a passport, in a move spearheaded by the Liberal Democrat party. The Home Office’s Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said in a statement: “IPS is considering the gender options available to customers in the British passport. We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed in the passport.”

Closing the Gender Gap

Watch out for the still pervasive gender gap, photo: The Lab/flickr

This week the ISN assesses the status of women from the US to the United Arab Emirates. While sweeping progress has been made in recent decades, resistance to gender equality remains in all corners of the globe.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Gail Harris, the first woman in US Navy history to be successfully assigned to a combat unit, on the challenges facing women in the military – then and now.
  • A Podcast interview with Dr Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations about the rise of Islamic feminism.
  • Security Watch articles about crimes against women from Burma to the DRC – and about female legislative empowerment from Kuwait to India.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the Overseas Development Institute’s look at gender and the MGDs and the Kiel Institute’s assessment of women’s suffrage.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of Hillary Clinton’s famous 1995 speech, ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’, to the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as The New York Times 2010 series, ‘The Female Factor’, which explores the most recent shifts in women’s power, prominence and impact on societies.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the UN Division for the Advancement of Women.
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