Call for Papers
The 2nd Congress of the Asian Association of Women’s Studies (cAAWS 2010)
Debating Gender Justice in Asia
9-11 December 2010, City Bayview Hotel, Georgetown, Penang
Organised by the Association of Asian Women’s Studies (AAWS), Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA), Universiti Sains Malaysia and the South East Asian Association for Gender Studies, Malaysian Branch (SAMA)
Thirty five years have lapsed since the first United Nations World Conference on Women in 1975 acknowledged women’s rights and gender equality as critical components in addressing social equality and justice within the international community and by national governments. Since then, women’s movements, both globally and locally have lobbied governments and stakeholders in society to take active steps to overcome all forms of discrimination against women. With slow progress and many challenges in the initial stages, the United Nations in the early 1990s introduced the strategy of ‘gender mainstreaming’ so that governments and organisations could implement more effective and transformational programmes to counter the diluted versions of projects which merely ‘integrate women’ in the development process.
Despite these notable efforts gender inequalities continue to persist and could even worsen during this period of unstable political and economic environment. Gender mainstreaming has been criticised as being ineffective in providing redress in the face of gender injustices. The 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Report (UNDP, 2010) which fore-grounded gender equality as its main theme noted that “in every country across Asia and the Pacific, pervasive gender inequality remains a barrier to progress, justice and social stability”. It underscored the point that despite growth in the region, gender inequality has cut even deeper for poorer and marginalised groups.
We currently live in a period of crisis, uncertainty and possibly, epochal changes. Social and gender justice has been stalled as the period of neo-liberal globalisation saw a shift from the politics of redistribution to that of recognition, with a focus on identity and difference rather than social solidarity based on justice and respect (Fraser, 2003). Can and should the two struggles be reconciled? What would be the implications on power relations of various social forces in society – from those based on class to those groups organised under the banner of ethnicity, culture, gender and sexuality to name but a few? How can one demand justice from the state, one which is mediated by different elements, and within different political contexts – from democratic to authoritarian regimes?
This forthcoming congress calls for papers to debate these issues in the context of re-claiming and re-invigorating gender justice in Asia. Papers can fit into the following sub-themes:
Feminism (s) in Asia and gender justice
While feminist discourses arguably underpin the fight for gender equality and justice in the Western world, they seem to be less clearly articulated as the defining conception for women’s struggle against unequal treatment in the Asian region. Are feminist discourses truly absent from Asian struggles for gender and social justice? Are feminisms viable or relevant in the Asian context of striving for gender justice? What forms have feminisms taken in the Asian region? The Feminism(s) in Asia and Gender Justice theme aims to elicit discussion on these questions and other related concerns. The sub-theme provides a space for theorizing gender justice in the Asian context from various theses and premises.
Gender, culture and religion
Gender equality is a contentious element of debates in a society where religion and culture feature prominently as regulating factors in social conduct and interaction. In many parts of the Asian region, culture and religion form the determining bases for social systems and rules. How have culture and religion influenced the engagement for social and gender justice in the Asian societies? Have they had motivating or hindering impact on the achievement of gender justice? What are the discourses underlying debates on gender equality in relation to religion and culture? The sub-theme of Gender, Culture and Religion seeks to bring forth discussions on these and related issues.
Citizenship, governance and leadership
Governance has been generally defined as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs. It consists of the mechanisms, processes and institutions, through which citizens articulate their interest, exercise their legal rights and meet their obligations. It is generally assumed that the state will then promote (good) governance in its role of promoting social cohesion and ensuring the well-being of its citizens. However feminists have critiqued the state and the social policies it propagates as mainly serving the interests of men and the elites in society. And even though some (democratic) states articulate the language of women’s rights, in practice different interpretations of citizenship and democracy occur. Thus feminists have also criticised the notion of citizenship as being deeply gendered, as it basically reflects the abstract, disembodied citizen who is male, heterosexual and non-disabled. The invisibility of women’s political activism also reflects the tendency to define politics within the masculine sphere of formal politics.
The state can be a powerful instrument of equality (for change) but it is also a machine which reproduces inequality. In such a context how do women citizens and the women’s movement in Asia engage with the state to ensure social and gender justice? Are poor and marginalised women, including sexual minorities, adequately represented in this process? How are women’s rights activists challenging and contributing to the discourse of male-stream politics, democracy, governance and the notion of leadership? What have been the various experiences in different parts of Asia where both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ governance exist? Has gender mainstreaming as a strategy to include women into decision making processes successful? What have been the forms, structures and processes to ensure that good governance is gendered? In addition, what would citizenship mean when “membership” is intergovernmental or when in relation to transnationalised groups or action, such as terror, conflict and multinational corporations and even CSOs?
We hope papers submitted will deal with the above issues in relation to the sub-theme of citizenship, governance and leadership providing concrete cases of challenges faced and interventions made.
Globalisation and alternative development
Despite Asia being a high growth region and the most globalised region in the world, persistent inequalities between and within nations exist and may even be increasing in many cases. The acceleration of neo-liberal globalization since the 1990s has led to various crises, the latest being the financial crisis in which countries, particularly in the north has been hit rather harshly. However this does not mean that countries in the south have not been negatively affected as exports have slowed down, governments are in deficits, with devastating implications on already poor communities. Through the decades, women in Asia have been deeply affected by this market-led type of development. As citizens, workers (including as migrant workers) and carers women have been bearing the brunt of a type of economic development which privileges profits over people’s welfare and wellbeing.
The latest ILO report (2009) on Global Employment Trends for Women warned that with the deepening of the recession in 2009, the global job crisis is expected to worsen and with this gender inequality will be exacerbated. Moreover the current crisis will place new hurdles towards sustainable and socially equitable growth, making decent work for women increasingly difficult. Adversely affected will be women in the informal sector; they will face lower earnings and less social protection.
Are there development alternatives to current models of aggressive free market capitalist development? The congress calls for papers to address these issues in this “fierce new world”. How are women in Asia being affected? What have been their strategies to counter the fall-outs of the various crises? What alternatives can be offered in these moments of insecurity and instability? As not only should social safety nets be institutionalised as part of the economic and political system to protect workers, but also the whole global, regional and national economic and financial governance structures should be critiqued and a new paradigm and alternatives be formulated. Is an epochal change in the air? Is a more humane post neo-liberal era indeed possible, one that is firmly grounded on social and gender justice?
As mentioned above the congress is to take place from December 9 – 11 2010. Please send in a 300 word abstract by 30th September 2010. We will inform you if your abstract has been accepted by 18th October 2010. Finalised papers are due on 18th November 2010.
Please submit your abstract in the following format:
• Paper title
• Name of author(s) with full affiliation
• Author(s) address, 100 word biodata (each presenter) & contact details (including email of presenter/s)
• Sub-theme preferred for presentation
• Abstract text (max 300 words)
• Word format
• Font: Times New Roman 12.
Please submit abstracts to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by normal post to the following address:
The Chairperson of the Scientific Committee
The 2nd Congress of AAWS 2010
Women’s Development Research Centre (KANITA)
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Registration fee and accommodation:
There will be a registration fee of RM200.00 for local participants and USD80.00 for foreign participants which will cover all meals and materials during the congress. Participants are responsible for their own accommodation and flight arrangements. Please book your accommodation directly with the hotel.
Please send your questions and other information regarding this conference to the following:
The Chairperson of the Scientific Committee
Prof. Cecilia Ng Choon Sim (Email: email@example.com)
The Chairperson of the Secretariat Committee
Prof. Datin Rashidah Shuib (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Deputy Chairs of the Secretariat Committee
Dr. Noraida Endut (Email: email@example.com)
Assoc. Prof. Intan Osman (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Address and Contact Number: