Feminism, democratization - G. Di Marco, C. Tabbush (Adelanto)

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Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

Collection: Social Sciences Director: Gerardo Aboy Carlés Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy: Case studies in South and Central America, Middle East and North Africa/ compilado por Graciela Di Marco y Constanza Tabbush. 1a ed. San Martín: Universidad Nacional de General San Martín. UNSAMEDITA, 2011. 232 pp. ; 21 x 15 cm.

Traducido por: Marta Castillo ISBN 978-987-1435-31-9

Democracia. 2.Feminismo. I. Di Marco, Graciela, comp. II. Tabbush, Constanza, comp. III. Castillo, Marta, trad. CDD 306

English version of Feminismos, democratización y democracia radical. Estudios de caso de América del Sur, Central, Medio Oriente y Norte de África. UNSAM EDITA 2011. This publication reports on a research financed by:

International Development Research Centre de Canadá, www.idrc.ca, and Programa de Apoyo a la Universidad Argentina del Ministerio de Educación de Argentina.

1st edition, July 2011 © 2011 Graciela Di Marco © 2011 Constanza Tabbush © 2011 UNSAMEDITA de Universidad Nacional de General San Martín

Campus Miguelete. Edificio Tornavía Martín de Irigoyen 3100, San Martín (B1650HMK), Provincia de Buenos Aires unsamedita@unsam.edu.ar www.unsamedita.unsam.edu.ar

Translator: Marta Castillo Cover and book design: Ángel Vega Digital editing: María Laura Alori Copyediting: Graciela Oliva

Cover images: Demonstration of May 30: by courtesy of Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristán, Perú. Attendants at the Brief Course on Urban Agriculture. Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Amman, September 2005: by courtesy of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canadá. Women in collective action: labor, rights, and citizenhsip. Argentina in the 20 th and 21 st centuries: by courtesy of Centro de Estudios sobre Democratización y Derechos Humanos (CEDEHU-UNSAM). Curators: Mirta Lobato and Ana Lía Rey. Printed in Argentina.

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form whatsoever without written consent from the publisher.


Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy Case studies in South and Central America, the Middle East, and North Africa


9 11


Graciela Di Marco Constanza Tabbush




Democracy and Women's Rights: Reflections on the Middle East and North Africa



Women's Movements Negotiating Social Contracts in Multilateral Inter-Goverment and Trans-National Inter-Movement Spaces



The Gender Dimension in Peace and Conflict Processes





Women on the Move of Gender Equality in the Magreb



The Central Role of the Family Law in the Moroccan Feminist Movement



The Women's Popular Movement and the Feminist Movement: Coincidences in the Public and Political Arenas



The Uniterrupted Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Rights



Claims for Legal Abortion in Argentina 167 and the Construction of New Political Identities

Valentine M. Moghadam

Josefa Francisco Peggy Antrobus

Dina Rodríguez

Khadija Arfaoui Fatima Sadiqi Gaby Cevasco

Herminia Di Liscia Graciela Di Marco




The New Muslim Personal Status Law in Morocco: Context, Proponents, Adversaries, and Arguments



Coping with Conflict: Palestinian Families and Households, Against All Odds


Moha Ennaji

Eileen Kuttab




This book is the result of the convergence of the objectives of two networks: the Global UNESCO Network of Women’s Studies and Gender Research (WS/GR) and the Argentine Interuniversity Network of Gender Studies, Democratization and Human Rights. In this regard it is important to make a brief description of their main achievements in order to make explicit the framework of the studies presented in this book. The UNESCO Network of Women’s Studies and Gender Research (WS/GR) was constituted to consider and promote the Human Rights of Women and Gender Equality in the programs and projects of the Section for Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO (UNESCO-SHS). Its objectives are: to promote the participation of institutions conducting research in Africa, Latin America, North America, Central America, the Arab region and Asia; to strengthen academic cooperation on gender and women’s studies; to promote South-South and NorthSouth cooperation in this field; to support and incorporate international normative instruments on issues related to women / gender, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This network includes feminist scholars, and departments of women’s studies of universities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe and Oceania. To date, the participants of the Network have initiated and developed a series of activities, including: various research projects, conferences, and publications. The active series of Network meetings consolidated this ambitious project. The section of UNESCO, Gender and Development (GED), of the Section on Social and Human Sciences (SHS) organized a workshop about the Human Rights of Women: The Link between Research and Policy, which took place at the International Forum on the Nexus between Social Science and Policy (IFSP), Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the 20-24 of February of 2006. This workshop offered an innovative space for a new kind of dialogue, bringing together social scientists and policy-makers to look for common language and 9

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

goals. Miriam College in Manila, Philippines, hosted the first official meeting of the Network WS/GR on the 25 and 26 of July of 2007. During this event, participants of the Network agreed on the ways and means of collaboration with the UNESCO-SHS for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, they identified the areas for potential cooperation between network members, and they also examined the new themes and trends on women’s rights and gender equality in order to promote and deepen the work of the network. The Interuniversity Network of Gender Studies, Democratization and Human Rights was established in 2008, sponsored by the Center for the Studies on Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEHU), School of Humanities at the Universidad Nacional de General San Martín and the Interdisciplinary Institute for Women’s Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de La Pampa. Its objectives are: to strengthen Comparative Studies on Gender, Democratization and Human Rights and to build up the nexus between research and the design of public policies. It was supported by the Program for the Promotion of the University of Argentina (PPUA), Ministry of Education, and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada. With these various endorsements, in September 2008 it took place the International Conference: Comparative studies on Family Democratization and Socio-Politics: An Integral Approach to the Private and Public Spheres, in Buenos Aires with the objective of promoting interregional academic exchanges in the comparative studies on the articulation between the Democratization of the family and Political democratization, from a perspective to expand women’s rights and deepen democracy. This conference is the basis of the book we are here presenting. The proposed theme for this project reflects upon old and new interests (in the South and the North), and allows a growing synergy for a new generation of gender studies, human rights and democratization.



The need to consider the political, social, and cultural spheres within the processes undergone by every country and region stems from an approach that explores acquisition of rights in the context of their appearance. Case studies in South and Central America, the Middle East and North Africa allow comparison of democratization processes in the relationship between the sexes and between adults and children/adolescents inside the family structure as well as in national and global contexts. Special attention has been given to the analysis of the articulations among the social struggles involved in the process of the expansion of rights in each country. The processes to be compared share a common foundation in every region, as the debate on women’s rights began everywhere toward the late seventies. There have been several United Nations Conferences, such as the World Conferences on Women (1975, 1980, 1985 and 1995), regional conferences, and instructions from loan institutions which, in the nineties, implemented requirements concerning gender equity in anti-poverty policies. These requirements drove practically every administration to gradually adopt measures that contemplated women’s rights (Molyneux, 2003). The processes mentioned took place simultaneously with the installation of a hegemonic notion that was expressed in the Washington Consensus, which established a number of requirements for development. Depending on the different types of feminism and on the feminists in each of the regions, cooperation for structural adjustment was provided. In other cases, the choices favored confrontation and resistance outside and within the state. This made good use of the knowledge that governments were not necessarily monolithic and that progressive discourses had a chance to slip in through the cracks (Di Marco, 1997). The Washington Consensus was characterized by its definitely favorable view of the market and its distrust of the capacity of the state, reduced to supporting the market. Other typical features were the international division of labor between rich and poor countries and a set of measures that included 11

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

budgetary discipline, redirection of public expenditure, financial liberalization, a competitive exchange rate, open markets, liberalization of direct foreign investment, privatization of state companies, deregulation and guaranteed property ownership. In order to counterbalance these measures, governments were advised to protect socially “vulnerable” sectors, a decision that made it impossible to develop universal policies based on citizenship rights while weakening existing policies. Neoliberal policies became harder in the 90s. They were closely linked to the need for accumulation as a necessary condition for growth, the primary goal. Emphasis was laid on the virtues of the market’s liberalization and globalization, while state interventionism and economic planning were deemed irrational (Coraggio, 1998: 3). This economicist notion of development tended to discard or subordinate social objectives. It also involved an optimistic view of the future. It was believed that economic growth, left to its own dynamics, would “trickle down” on every sector. Such ideas led to a minimalist, assistentialist role of the State in the social sphere. If the trickle down theory was true, the State’s only role should be to take care of transitory lags, implementing conjunctural, poorly focalized programs to mitigate the impact of adjustment policies. From this point of view, public expenditure, particularly social expenditure, was viewed as unproductive and inefficient by definition. Adjustment policies dictated by international credit organizations produced programs that reduced the discourse of social policies to “fighting poverty”. Nowadays Neoliberal economic policies have supposedly fallen into disrepute. However, it is more cosmetic than real, for one can only see palliative measures to the crude, generalized devastation. Also, the values inherent to Neoliberal cultural mechanisms have seeped into people’s minds. This process resembles Foucault’s notion of governamentality, that is to say, the government of behaviors, which leads to approval of individualism, of market regulations, and even to an appeal for civil society to outsource services. All of this was enwrapped in discourses of empowerment and self-government of the actors, who are mostly women.1 Political Democratization and Social Democratization Studies carried out in the 80s about the democratic transition in Latin America (political democratization) focused on reflections about democratic forms of government, political and civil rights, governance, and the role of political 1 For further detail about the criticism of the empowerment approach, see Di Marco (2005), chapter 6.



parties and the armed forces. In this volume, Moghadam includes the cases of Eastern Europe, Algeria, Iraq, and Palestine. She thinks that the corresponding literature failed to take women’s rights into account. Rodríguez, on her part, lays emphasis on the lack of gender considerations in the analysis of the conflicts and peace processes at the national and international level. Throughout the nineties, the debates centered on the application of Neoliberal politics, which held a minimalist notion of democracy and of the State. The concept of citizenship implied individual inception in the market and fulfillment of political duties with a minimum of granted civil rights. The said debates disregarded several important issues. How was democracy to become consolidated? What kind of collective subjects would rise within democracy? What would be their rights? What would be their notion of citizenship in a context whose most salient feature are poverty and inequality? The processes, relationships, and actors frequently ignored are those framed by the concept of social democratization. Such social relations as can be democratized are not just those between the State and the civil society, but also those established inside all kinds of institutions (the family, the school, the workplace, public institutions, etc.) at the political, social, cultural, and technological level (Hopenhayn, 1993). When the conditions for democracy were studied, sometimes the analyses omitted the transformation processes of authoritarian contracts in the fields of culture and social institutions. There were also omissions regarding inception into social life and its corresponding benefits, equal opportunity and participation in the various spheres of individual and collective life. The new ways of political practice, on the margin of the traditional ways that occupied the public space were also left aside. In this same sense, Jelin (2007:8, 10) argues that politologists’ studies carried out in the 80s “privileged the political system per se while relegating the analysis of the economic conditions and social bases”. Political scientists did not address issues such as participation and citizenship, but some groups of social researchers were beginning to explore into the public and the private, analyzing daily social practices without neglecting the ideological and the political-and-institutional. In one way or another, most of the studies into political democratization lack analysis of the sectorial microspaces, “in which the new historical forces become constituted” (Laclau, forthcoming). Moreover, we should not ignore the different space and level of analysis provided by globalization. Speaking about the new internationalism and the possibility of creating chains of equivalencies through a common language, Laclau ponders on the obsolescence of traditional institutional forms in political mediation (2005:287). In my view, new forms of articulation and new popular identities involve new potential alternatives for us to think about the expansion of democratizing processes. 13

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

Francisco and Antropus point out that, generally speaking, social movements have been analyzed as a function of the state-nation. Quoting Vargas (2006), they state that nowadays we cannot ignore the worldwide reach of problems, strategies, and political action. They mention that, in the 80s and 90s, many women’s movements were struggling for the expansion of citizenship in national and international arenas. It is my belief that the radicalization of democracy involves democratization in the public and in the private sphere. Both are interconnected and may foster the expansion of rights and citizenship as well as contribute to strengthen democracy and its achievement of maturity. The bonds between these issues take in a different specificity and density in the different cultures. Therefore, a comparative study will surely shed light on the various developments and achievements in each and every one of them. The chapters in this book show, from different standpoints, the nuances of family law in North Africa. Political debates and conflicts arising from family law are critical to the democratization of gender and generation relations in the region. The radicalization of democracy must regard it in its twofold aspect of the private and the public. I have called "social democratization" the democratization process of the private. The level of analysis of public processes -political democratization- is broached through the category named "radical democracy": the construction of counter hegemonies resulting from the articulation of popular struggles. I base these notions on authors like Laclau and Mouffe (1985) and Fraser (1989, 1997). Laclau and Mouffe define it as a new hegemony shaped by the expansion of democratic rights. This is in agreement with the principle of democratic equivalence, generated by the articulations between the claims made by each group or collective and those made by others. Such hegemony would make possible the conditions for egalitarian relationships, practices, and institutions (Mouffe, 1999: 111, 113). Laclau and Mouffe (1985) explore the rise of new political spaces in the light of what they call the end of a notion according to which politics was constituted within a single space. Because of workers’, women’s, and minorities’ struggles (racial, sexual, etc.) and from a post-Marxist perspective, they believe that the democratic revolution –radical democracy– is based on the construction of a system of democratic equivalencies between the various struggles against oppression. Through hegemonic construction, the expansion of chains of equivalencies contributes to radical democracy, while each particular struggle keeps its own specificity regarding the others (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985: 198/204-205). Mouffe (1999: 111) advocates “the need to establish a chain of equivalencies between the various democratic struggles in order to create an equivalent articulation between claims by women, black people, workers, homosexuals, and others”. 14


Thus we get to the construction of a collective policy which becomes articulated by means of the principle of democratic equivalence, which does not erase the differences in each specific struggle. Considerations about radical democracy gather both horizontal articulations in the different social movements and vertical articulations in the political system. The notion of democratization suggests an open process, with an order yet to be created, and in which the degrees of exhaustivity of the value "democracy" can always be stretched across society (Hopenhayn, 1993: 217218). From this approach, participation and expansion of spaces for equality do not refer to political, civil, and social citizenship only. They extend to gender and generations’ relationships, to the different manners of experiencing culture, sexuality, and the body. Apart from a view of the social actors, regarded as agents, this approach gives importance to equal access to social, economic, and cultural rights, together with the internal democracy of social organizations, for there are no rights outside social institutions, values, and practices (O’Donnell, 2003: 84, 85). Social democratization processes redefine the distribution of social collectives’ material and symbolic resources through a revision of such assumptions as lie at the base of authority and through processes that enable inequality to be made explicit to excluded or subordinate actors. These processes are grounded on the denaturalization and criticism of inequality. Democratizing processes may rise in both the public and the private spheres: sex, gender, and cross-generational relationships among others. The democratization approach lays emphasis on relations of power and authority between the sexes, the genders, and between adults on the one hand and children and youngsters on the other. It also stresses on all subordination relationships, such as those originated by whatever differences, such as ethnical or aptitudinal, for example. Relationships that can be democratized come from the public and the private realm, from the national and the global world. They are found in all sorts of institutions (the family, the municipality, the school, the workplace, public institutions, services companies) and at all levels (political, social, cultural, technological, and economic) (Hopenhayn, 1993). The democratizing project is about the gradual consolidation of a radical democracy at the microsocial, national, and global level, with new discourses on rights, participation, pluralism, denaturalization of dominations –many of which belong in the capitalist system– and a redefinition of authority and power. Democratization of everyday life, of the private sphere, is deemed important from the very moment of the conception of daily life as the ferment of history (Heller, 1977) and not just as the locus of little things. Daily life may be thought of not only as the place of repetition, the place where material needs are fulfilled, but also as the place of creativity, of recognition of 15

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

the other. It is also the place for joy and suffering, for feeling; hence its being called the place for multiplicity. While daily events do not suffice to explain the social structure, the changes in daily life echo in society as a whole. Likewise, daily life is related to history. As Heller points out (1977: 20): daily life determines new categories, which later on are kept or at least deployed for some time. Therefore, they either develop or step back. In other words, daily life also has a history. And this is true not only in the sense that social revolutions operate radical changes on daily life, thus turning it into a mirror of history, but also in the sense that the changes generated in the modes of production are often expressed in daily life before the macroscopic revolution takes place, and this is what makes it a secret ferment of history.

Democratization processes take place primarily within collective spaces. Collective action is embodied in daily life, and if we consider the imbrication of power in every single social relationship, participation in various sectors creates an accumulation of positive outcomes in our movement toward a more democratic society. In this sense, participative processes and democratization are mutually interdependent. The democratization approach seeks to observe whether traditionally subordinate subjects are able to develop relationships endowed with authority and power, and whether this process is involved in an extended self-recognition of their rights. Consequently, rather than speak of empowerment, as the gender literally tends to do, I would prefer to consider “the processes of power recognition in different fields”. In other words, my focus is on the recognition of the legitimacy of such power (authority). When we refer to women, the axis is the process through which they are recognized as authority both in the private -in family relationships- and in the public life, in family relationships, for example. I will now briefly revisit some of the authors who have dwelt on the notion of democratization. Giddens (1992) thinks that the expansion of democracy in the public sphere has largely been a male project, whereas women have played a major role in the democratization of personal life. According to Giddens, the latter process is less visible, partly because it does not occur in the public arena. Still, its implications are as profound as the former’s. The characteristics of democratization in private life are connected with the establishment of free, egalitarian relationships among individuals. At the same time, systems of authority are not bound by rigid contracts based on role complementarity, but rely on every individual’s specialization and abilities, with due attention to their conditions of possibility, regardless of gender. The core of democratization implies the creation of circumstances in which people may develop their potential and express their qualities. One key objective is that each individual must respect other people’s capabilities as well as their ability to learn and increase their aptitudes (Giddens, 1992:184; passim). 16


Among others who also write about democratization, Held (1992: 351/353) lays emphasis on a conception of democracy based on whether citizens enjoy real power to act as such. In other words, the question points to their capacity to enjoy the series of rights which allow them to demand democratic participation while regarding such participation as a title. Held speaks of a twofold democratization process: the transformation of the state and of the civil society as an interdependent, democratic reorganization, and the principle of autonomy applied to such process, which he calls a state and civil society model rooted in democratic autonomy or liberal socialism. The realization of this model lies in every citizen’s right to participate in public matters. To this purpose, no large categories of citizens should remain in a subordinate position (Held, 1992: 360). He developed the notion of nautonomy to describe the relations of power that give rise to systematic asymmetries in life prospects, or that impose artificial restrictions on them and on the possibility of political participation in decision making (Held, 1997: 210). Fraser (2003) also deals with the notion of democratization. His dualist view of justice goes beyond the limits of redistribution and recognition. In his latest book, he develops the political as a third dimension, understood as political exclusion and marked by decision making practices that hinder or prevent individuals from accessing decision making processes or from having a voice, even if this is not a case of lack of recognition or distribution (Fraser, 2003:68, 69). Thus, democratization is the remedy for marginalization. Fraser speaks of what is needed to repair such political obstacles as create political exclusion (Fraser, 2003). The addition to Fraser’s model of this third category, which goes by the name of "representation" in other works by her, is not clear (Fraser, 2005: 305). Exclusion or marginalization takes place when there is a lack of recognition and/or distribution that prevents a category of citizens from participating in decision making. This shows that it is not merely a matter of procedures, and that it would suffice to change the procedures to make democratization possible and to remedy exclusion. Authoritarian contracts entail the naturalization of some kind of inequality, be it related to class, gender, religion, ethnia, or all of the above. Moreover, Fraser states that parity is at the core of her notion of justice. In this view, then, justice requires that all members of society be regarded as peers. This calls for two conditions: the objective distribution of material resources to ensure the participants’ independence and voice (Fraser and Honneth, 2003: 36) and the intersubjective level composed by cultural - value institutional tenets that show respect for every participant while ensuring equal opportunity to achieve social esteem. Therefore, democratization implies that such tenets have been recognized. Theoretical constructs such as social democratization and radical democracy allow us to read the changes operated in different contexts. They provide 17

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

the key to approach developments or setbacks in counter hegemonic struggles, or in antipatriarchal and anticapitalist movements, as stated in Francisco and Antrobhus’ chapter. These struggles address the expansion of citizenship from an awareness of the intertwining of domination and subordination relationships across all social relations, gender included. In order to approach citizenship as a category from a feminist perspective it is vital to consider the core, constituted by the tension between equality and difference. Citizenship: Equality and Difference At the base of the developments undergone by the notion of citizenship lies the universal belief that all persons are equal by nature. However, reality shows that the declaration of universal rights implies a concept of citizenship in which gender differences/inequality, ethnic and religious differences, etc. have not been considered. The more equality is preached the higher the risk of failing to recognize the different identities. Failure to recognize differences originates inequality and power asymmetry, thus paving the way for the denial of the rights of people and collectives that do not match the “ideal” universal citizenship in that they live and voice their material and symbolic needs in specific cultural and social circumstances. Mouffe (1999: 119) believes that the public sphere of modern citizenship was universally and rationalistically constructed, preventing recognition of antagonism and division and relegating particularities and differences to the private sphere. The differentiation between the public and the private was crucial to the affirmation of individual liberties, but also contributed to women’s subordination and exclusion. Mouffe advocates that the said differentiation should not be abandoned but reformulated. She states that differentiation does not pertain to separate spheres but that “… every situation brings the ‘private’ and the‘public’ together, for every undertaking is private, even if it cannot escape the public requirements established by the principles of citizenship” (Mouffe; 1999: 120). Theories framed within cultural pluralism have concerned themselves with social differences. One of the most lucid theorists, Young has developed the notion of “differentiated citizenship” or “differentiated group policies”. Her purpose was to enwrap, particularly in the U.S., citizen integration of various collectives such as black people, women, aboriginal peoples, homosexuals, lesbians, and ethnic and religious minorities (1990: 174, 184). To Young: “...democratic institutions should facilitate the public expression of the needs of those who tend to suffer social marginalization or silencing at the hands of cultural imperialism. Group representation facilitates expression” (1990: 185). 18


From a pluralist, democratic standpoint her reasoning is indeed attractive, as it claims visibility and a voice for groups that refuse to become integrated into universal citizenship at the cost of their specificity. Nevertheless, her view of the bond with the political community may pose a challenge insofar as the differences grow deeper and more essential. Like the tension between universalism and particularism, group rights are also a source of conflict. If Young’s position were accepted without questioning, women’s and children’s rights might be subsumed in the rights of a collective. Therefore, if the collective’s practices violate women’s rights for the sake of cultural traditions, women would not have enough power to fight such traditions. Moller Okin (1999: 3-4), with whom I agree, argues along these same lines. Okin emphatically points out that all cultures share a common purpose: the subordination of women (1999: 5). On her part, Benhabib (2006: 113) replies that there are no homogeneous cultures. She thinks that cultural holism should be rejected, and that we should focus on the narratives provided by actors in deliberative, discursive, multicultural spaces complying with three requirements: egalitarian reciprocity, voluntary self-ascription, freedom of exit and association (Benhabib, 2006: 174,176, 181). This could be perfect in a world that has rid itself of differences that generate blatant inequalities. In her reflections about differences, Scott resorts to deconstruction as the dismantling of what is binary, hierarchical, and a product and producer of power relations. She speaks of a binary opposition offered to feminists in terms of equality versus difference, arguing interdependence between both terms. Her explanation is that “equality does not amount to the elimination of differences while difference does not preclude equality” (Scott, 1988: 38). To Scott, the opposite of equality is inequality rather than difference. Her solution is to lay bare the power relations built by opposing difference to equality and to reject the subsequent dichotomic construction of political choices. Hence, in the theory of rights, the claim for equality amounts to ignoring differences among individuals in particular contexts, which she views as equivalent not identical. Equality is based on contextualized differences and confronts binary differences. She therefore proposes opposing the binary division while insisting on the differences as particular constructions in specific contexts. In a word, she aims at reconciling the theories of equal rights with the cultural concepts about sexual differences. At the same time, Scott advocates that contradictions should be singled out without attempting to solve them and that a policy for women’s identity should be articulated without falling into stereotypes (Scott, 1988: 43-48). Along the same lines, Brown (2002: 422) thinks that we should renounce the idea of opposition between equality and difference. One of the paradoxes in the tension between equality and difference is that ignoring gender differences fosters the idea of some universal. On the other hand, a standpoint 19

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

based on differences may increase discrimination. Differences may render visible what is invisible, but could not give rise to each gender’s identity, desires, and motivations. In addition, differences are functional to ill treatment, violence, and refusal of opportunities. In order to exercise citizenship it is necessary to be able to construct a discourse of rights. From a historical standpoint, social and political life did not mean that women have the chance of expressing themselves and making themselves heard, for that role was exclusive of the males in the family. To build up a voice of our own that may recover the daily world so that it can be included into the political is one of the aims of the democratic revolution we aspire to. Equal opportunities and rights for women are a condition for the full exercise of citizenship, whose sex/gender identity basically affects women’s belonging and participation in public life. This analysis of citizenship also focuses on the body, sexuality, reproduction, and production. Bearing this perspective in mind, we will find various hindrances to women’s exercise of power and authority. 2 Examples of problematic fields are maternity policies, childcare, the regulations and norms imposed on women’s bodies, obligatory heterosexuality, violence, and the difficulties to access economic, educational, and cultural resources. The study of citizenship that takes into account the body as well as the emotions also underscores that feminist struggles against the hegemony of conservative discourses articulate underlying tendencies for more secularism in society. This is the case with every society in the regions explored, whether they are predominantly Catholic or Muslim. Several contributors to this book have followed that path. To Ennaji, the new reform to the Law of Personal Status (Mudawana) seems to mean a significant improvement in the Moroccan secularization process. She also declares that the civil society, feminist and democratic, turned the Mudawana into a less holy law. Sadiqi makes a point of separating religion from politics so as to achieve women’s equality, and wonders whether there can be equality without laicism. Obviously, the answer is negative. Di Liscia’s chapter and my own deal with the campaign in favor of legal abortion in Argentina and encourage reflection on the need for greater secularization in the country. Structure of the Book The chapters in this book deal with transformations in both the private and the public sphere. Taken together, they allow us to think about democra2 The notion of discourse of rights, developed in Di Marco (1997), is an outcome of research findings that connect discourse dialogically with social participation.



tization in the microsocial, the national, and the international spaces. First, democracy, internationalism, and women’s movements as seen by Moghadam, Francisco & Antrobus, and Rodríguez. Second, the significant role of feminisms in each of the countries explored as studied by Arfaoui, Sadiqi, Cevasco, Di Liscia, and Di Marco. Third, attempts at the democratization of family relationships through new family laws and experiences of new gender relations within families as described by Ennaji and Kuttab. Section 1 - Democracy, Internationalism, and Women's Movements Valentine Moghadam proposes a thought-provoking argument in which she posits a strong positive connection between the outcomes of democratic transitions and women’s political involvement. She goes over the various definitions of democracy and the ways in which they affect the nations of the Middle East, pinpointing how the definitions themselves facilitate the participation of women and feminist organizations. Moghadam encourages reflection on the notion of democracy, not from a liberal definition but from the quality and gender equality stemming from democracy. She also draws attention to citizens’ participation and inclusion in those societies that call themselves ‘democratic’. In the case of the Middle East, her argument changes the way in which democratic liberalization tends to be considered. Emphasis is laid on the participation of Islamist political parties, on fostering women’s participation, and on feminist organizations in public life. The significant postulate derived from the discussion between a feminist theory and a theory of democracy is that issues related to democratization and to women’s rights should not be dealt with separately. They are closely linked and mutually co-dependent. The author explores these interrelations through examples, drawn from her studies of North Africa and the Middle East. Reformulating Moore’s theory, which poses that a modern bourgeoisie is indispensable for democratization, Moghadam proposes that, in the Middle East, “modernizing women” are the main actors now promoting cultural and democratic change. Josefa Francisco and Peggy Antrobus focus on the challenges posed to feminism and Southern women’s movements by the new global social actions and movements. The global civil society, or global social movements, implies awareness of the worldwide scope of the resulting problems, strategies, and objectives. The authors tell us that, in terms of women’s struggles, the United Nations conferences held in the 80s and 90s expanded feminist activism. This was a consequence of the expansion of the nation-state boundaries and of the attempts at raising gender equality at the international level. Francisco and Antrobus say that to many feminists, those international conferences provided a space to fight for women’s rights. Moreover, it was also possible to introduce the struggle into national contexts in which extremely patriarchal govern21

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

ments monopolize political power. In an international context, feminist activism has achieved much. The authors highlight global agreements in which violence against women is understood as a violation of human rights, sexual and reproductive rights are recognized, and human rights are at the heart of criticism levelled at Neoliberal policies. Still, their analysis also emphasizes that, far from being univocal, such achievements mirror States’ tensions and contradictions about diverse political agendas. For example, according to the authors, simultaneous multilateral negotiations of various treatises “have led to trading off women’s rights language in exchange for certain text on economic concessions.” They also point out that international discussion spaces benefit feminists because they allow exchanges with other, larger social movements and global campaigns. Francisco and Antrobus criticize Neoliberal globalization and the dominance of the market over citizens’ rights. They draw attention to the rise of several articulations between movements of resistance against globalization, militarism, and wars. In these spaces, feminists become allies of women and men belonging to other social movements, and can negotiate and coordinate agendas with other progressive movements. As the authors state, the exchange between social movements entails “a broader and more diverse range of women’s movements in open democratic spaces of plural content”. This is also a practice in progress, as can be seen from the authors’ analysis of the World Social Forum. Dina Rodríguez explores the differences in men’s and women’s practices related to war and peace processes. She begins by identifying various kinds of violence, such as direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence, and continues to argue that, in women’s lives, ‘negative’ peace situations (i.e. absence of war) should not be the only thing considered. One should also bear in mind the existence of aggression, abuse of power, discrimination, offences against traditions, marginalization, poverty, etc. Rodríguez’s analysis identifies the different subjective positions that women may adopt during armed conflict. They will behave as victims, active combatants, and peace builders. Strengthening the imbrication between gender categories and other social categories, women’s vulnerability to participate in these situations often depends on their social class, education, and ethnicity. The author highlights that, at present, many parallel peace negotiations are at work. These deserve special attention, for the gender perspective cannot be excluded from them. Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council is the United Nations’ most important instrument to include the gender perspective in all actions aimed at constructing peace. Through this Resolution, the United Nations confirmed, for the first time ever, that the inclusion of the gender perspective and women’s participation in decision making is necessary at every stage of armed conflict, during, before, and after. Such international 22


achievements contribute to build a public space in which women can voice their viewpoints and experiences regarding peace and security. However, this chapter also points to the need for caution, since implementation of these measures has so far proved difficult. Section 2 - Feminisms’ Democratizing Impact Khadija Arfaoui writes about Maghrebian countries (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and Mauritania, which she included owing to its recent alliance with the Maghrebian women’s movement. Arfaoui analyzes the social impact of gender relations’ democratization efforts on households and workplaces. Her research shows that discrimination against women is rooted in women’s poverty and in their poor share of labor and union hierarchical positions. However, looking into the activists from the new feminist wave in the three Maghrebian countries that started in the 80s, the author states that progress was made regarding equality between men and women. This was due to direct action and to some governments’ ratification of CEDAW and its Facultative Protocol. As Arfaoui says, in this century “Maghrebian women are no longer absent from the public scene. They are also activists claiming equal rights and full citizenship”. The author shows us that, as from the 1980s, there has been great pressure in the three countries for radical changes in gender relations. Women’s organizations in the region have made demands of their of respective governments and put pressure on their congressmen or on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for radical changes in gender relations. The most remarkable change shared by the three countries under study consists of women’s different view of education. In this respect, Tunisia has taken the lead, owing to its larger middle class. Morocco is at the head of another substantive development. In December 2008 the country withdrew its reservations to CEDAW’s rulings, thus encouraging the hope for future developments. However, despite these and other achievements, the author points out that discrimination against women has not been defeated. This can be best seen in gender inequality in the face of inheritance rights. Gaby Cevasco writes from her feminist experience and militancy, focusing on the possibilities of an encounter between the popular women’s movement and the feminist movement in Peru. Her reflections draw on the praxis of Peruvian militancy, based on the experience and efforts of the Flora Tristán organization to promote an articulation between both movements. Therefore, her view of the tensions between both movements emphasizes the practices and perspectives of the feminist movement. The relationship between both movements is explored from the standpoint of the latter. She aims at shedding light on what these movements have in common and on the tensions between them. This allows a debate about how to strengthen a political artic23

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

ulation between them. Above all other things, Cevasco explores the tensions between gender and social classes, which point to priorities in both movements’ agendas as well as in their relationships with the State. Di Liscia examines tensions in the field of sexual and reproductive rights in Argentina by analyzing political relationships between the State, political parties, the Catholic Church, and feminist movements in the province of La Pampa. She points out those legislative setbacks concerning sexual and reproductive rights in La Pampa are due to actions taken by certain State actors and to a lack of information and/or implementation of existing legislation. The author draws attention to the gradual judicialization of lawful abortion. Achievements related to the issue of abortion can be seen from mobilizations and public debates promoted by women’s groups and movements. Di Liscia takes the protocol of lawful abortions in La Pampa and the governor’s veto to the law as a case study. She thus maintains that the State’s judicialization strategies added to the State’s failed policy to render assistance to individuals at risk coexist with and contradict other legislative decisions that have supported women’s rights. At the heart of the dispute over women’s bodies lies the veto of the governor of La Pampa, shown here as an example of the use of legal arguments to conceal ideological stances. On a more positive note, the final part of the chapter argues that the said contradictions gave rise to new social identities in defense of sexual and reproductive rights and of citizenship consciousness. Fatima Sadiqi examines the development of Moroccan feminism and its strategies. After the colonial period, the Family Law denied women a number of basic rights. However, when women had more access to education and to the labor market, these basic rights became central to their struggle. Thus this chapter highlights that, in such context, women’s rights are closely linked to democratization and political liberalization. In her analysis of the feminist movement, Sadiqi maintains that its greatest victory has been to bring a holy text (the Mudawana) to public debate. The author declares that the movement’s use of universal values and pragmatic, socially acceptable local strategies has succeeded in “[involving] the major political actors in the promulgation of the new Family Law reforms”. The author shows that the Moroccan feminist movement has succeeded in demystifying the “holyness” of “Shariâ” (Islamic law), a fact that contributed to the democratization of the public space and to the practice of human rights in daily life. However, her analysis also warns us that there is a long way to go before the new Family Law can be effectively applied. Two mechanisms are needed: men and women should become sensitive to the significant changes achieved, and judges should leave prejudice aside and join in the application of the new law. At the end of the chapter, Sadiqi argues that public debate of the Moroccan family private 24


problems will aid the Moroccan society to be prepared for what she regards as the coming challenge to the country’s feminist movement. She is in fact speaking of the role of religion in an ever more secular public space within a context in which women are acquiring new public visibility. Graciela Di Marco explores the articulations between women in popular movements, women’s movement, and the feminist movement. In a comprehensive sociological analysis of the developments resulting from women’s collective actions in Argentina during the 90s, she shows us how women in various social movements build diverse notions about their rights and strategies to obtain them. The articulations between strategies and rights evolve into alliances between women in unemployed workers’ movements, female workers of recovered enterprises, and members of feminist movements. The author identifies a new historical landmark in the Women’s Movement, based on these alliances between women from different social, urban, and rural sectors. Di Marco’s most powerful hypothesis postulates that the participation of a large number of women from the social movements, together with the feminist legacy and the protest strategies borrowed from human rights organizations, has contributed to the first ‘Popular Feminism’ in Argentina. Thus she mentions the feminist discourses and strategies used by activists from popular hoods. As a paradigmatic example of such articulations, Di Marco sets forth the Encuentros Nacionales de Mujeres (ENM) [Women’s National Encounters], a privileged space for the relationship between middle class feminism and women in new social movements. The author finds that these articulations lead to a remarkable outcome: the first Argentinean nationwide [National] Campaign for the Right to Abortion. She introduces the notion of ‘Feminist People’ to name the articulations between various male and female sectors. All of them struggle for a more secular country by claiming for the legalization of abortion, in opposition to the conservative forces under the hegemonic leadership of the Catholic Church. Di Marco argues that as a wide range of social movements brought new interests to the public agenda it became possible to explore ways for the expansion of citizenship. It is precisely one of these common points that resulted in the rise of popular feminism and of the feminist people, which articulate diverse struggles to expand women’s rights and consolidate a pluralist democracy. Section 3 - Democratization of Family Relationships Eileen Kuttab explores the role of the family as a main institution in Palestinian society. She speaks of the difficulties to maintain and reproduce the household amid the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and of the economic crisis haunting the Palestinians. The author declares that the scenario becomes more complex if one bears in mind that the Palestinian households 25

Feminisms, Democratization, and Radical Democracy

are not only under Israeli colonial domination but also lack a State to channel their claims. The Palestinian Authority has limited power and little control over its own institutions and resources. In this sociopolitical context, Palestinian households will continue to suffer, facing the challenges posed by the need to survive without any formal support by the Palestinian Authority. Kuttab points out that the long-drawn conflict impacts gender relations and dynamics. Resorting to Sen’s definition of households as centers of “cooperation and conflict”, the author first describes the paradoxes within Palestinian family dynamics. Family members offer mutual cooperation and solidarity in times of crisis to face outside danger, mostly the one posed by Israeli occupation. However, at the same time there is internal tension regarding relations of power, authority, control and division of labor in the household. Kuttab states that, in Palestine, the role of households concerning resistance and survival in an atmosphere of constant conflict places them as the most relevant unit of analysis in Palestinian social and political theory. This reality stresses the wider context of colonization as an inevitable aspect for analysis. In spite of expounding on the dark side of occupation, the study of households in this sociopolitical context also shows the positive dimension of resistance and survival. This can be seen in the cohesion and cooperation of families in particular and of the society at large. The author is persuaded that the lack of a sovereign State, added to the deterioration of the economy, results in obstacles to offer households –especially the poorest ones –some sort of social protection. This analysis points to the need of promoting a sovereign, independent state that will suitably provide for Palestinian households. She therefore deems it important that a new horizon give household members the opportunity to plan their lives and offer emotional, moral, and economic support to one another. Kuttab finally says that, given the articulation between household solidarity and democratic struggle against occupation, the struggle itself should also aim at social liberation from the patriarchy. In this way, both men and women will achieve self-fulfillment. Moha Ennaji goes into a detailed analysis and political discussion of recent changes made to the Moroccan Family Law (the Mudawana). In terms of women’s and family rights, this is one of the most progressive laws in the Arab world. He examines the reforms promoted by King Mohammed VI, their political possibilities, and the roles of various political actors such as Islamists, Congresswomen, and women’s associations during the deliberations around family legislation in Morocco. His political analysis presents us with a clear picture of the role played by each of the most important actors regarding the promotion of a new family law that grants men and women equal rights. Over the past years, the Family Law has been one of the most controversial issues in Morocco. Ennaji explains that “based on Islamic law (Shariâ), 26


the Mudawana used to leave women in a vulnerable position within the family. Husbands were able to divorce their wives easily and threw them out of their home, while it was very difficult for women to get out of abusive relationships”. He also points out that the new reforms aim at strengthening certain basic rights to favor women and children while fighting abuse and discrimination. These reforms make both spouses responsible for the family, make poligamy practically impossible, and reorganize the norms regulating marriage and divorce. Hence the new initiative, which grants more rights to both men and women, will hopefully have a positive effect on family democratization. The author declares that the feminist, democratic civil society reduced the holy aspects of the Family Law, and that “it is the women’s movement that has opened space for civil society and for democratic society”. Graciela Di Marco Constanza Tabbush


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