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Gender, security and development — II

Many African and Latin American states have faced these crises. Presently, the Indian policies of repression in Jammu and Kashmir are a vivid example of women torture, rape and widowhood. The whole family structure is suffering behind Indian policies of repression during from many months without respite.

Gender scholars state that men should focus on war-related issues, such as arms control and state diplomacy. Here, realists such as Kenneth Waltz see war between states as ‘constant possibility,’ – a threat that can be ‘managed but never eradicated.’ Incidentally, he was also an advocate of ‘the more the merrier’ thesis in nuclear weapons as deterrent to nuclear wars.

An empirical fact is that following the end of the Cold War the frequency of inter-state wars has dropped significantly. Indications by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that in 2001 war was responsible for 0.4 per cent of deaths whereas disease accounted for almost 91 per cent.

Security Studies try to understand how an issue becomes conceptualized as a ‘security threat’. Many accounts exist to explain the process of ‘securitization.’ According to it, securitization of societies takes place when governments fail to address economic issues. Here, Copenhagen School talks about ‘securitization’ and this creates a void that a gender perspective can help to address. The Copenhagen School says that an issue is defined as a security threat once relevant audience has been convinced of the danger. Yet this idea is flawed too as it fails to consider ‘security as silence’. This form of ‘silence’ exists when the person or people under threat are unable to voice the danger they are in. On the other hand, a domestic problem is consigned to a place of ‘order’. Here, the gender perspective forces security studies to re-examine the latter’s normative assumptions.

Some of the contemporary threats include pandemics, cyber warfare, international terrorism, global crime and human trafficking, drugs and smuggling. A threat such as cyber warfare is only made possible through technological advances, thus making it a wholly modern threat. Others, like terrorism, though having mutated in form, also rely on technology.

Dominant security theorists believe that the state is a ‘protector’ of civilians and it considers outside actors as a ‘threat.’ If one considers different geographical locations and varied points in history – this is not so. By the end of the 20th century, civilians made up to 90 per cent of casualties in wars – with most of these comprising women and children.

In the late 1980s, for example, 1,000 cases of alleged rape of women by Indian police showed that mass rape had been used as a tactic of war. In the Bosnian and Rwandan conflicts, an estimated 250,000 women were raped. Assaults by US military men against women are well-known. In a survey of sexual assault of US female veterans in 2003, 19 per cent reported having been raped by fellow male officers. Rates of sexual assaults by US servicemen against civilians are similar as this violence was highly gendered in all of these examples and committed by those embedded in state institutions.

Gender scholars advocate international cooperation as vital solution to dealing with threats that are transnational and do not recognize state boundaries such as terrorism or disease. Another gendered assumption is that conceptions of the state rely on centrality of family unit within society.

Gender scholars, on their part, turn the argument around by saying that the state itself was instrumental in construction and subsequent ‘naturalization’ of family unit; so it is complicit in legitimating the gender stereotypes that establish men as economic earners and women as household caretakers.

Another realist, Stephen Walt, argues that Security Studies – a field which he terms as ‘statecraft’ – should focus on and war-related on issues, such as, war, arms control and state diplomacy while the realists see war between states as a constant possibility – a threat that cannot be avoided.

The literature also discusses the notion of ‘public’ and ‘private’ divide. Broadly, the public sphere is defined as politics and economics and the ‘private’ as the sphere of family, domestic, labor and reproduction. According to traditional IR, the public sphere – the world ‘outside’ of the state — is characterized by anarchy and danger while the private sphere is ‘inside’ the state and a place of “order” in domestic policies. By ignoring issues that supposedly fall within the private sphere, security studies ignore some problems that hold serious global threat to women as well as men.

Domestic violence is often assigned as ‘private’ and thus perceived as an issue outside the responsibility of the state. This distinction between the public and private threats is rampant across the globe but is largely ignored by conventional security.

In summary, in order to meet the growing call for ethical and inclusive policy on security and foreign policy gender-based theories need to be incorporated. This should embrace the ‘complete stories’ and ‘lived experiences’ of women, minorities and marginalized groups.

No doubt, many advanced countries have made appreciable strides in gender equality; nevertheless, there are many opportunities to become more gender – inclusive for efficiency and diversity in realizing strategic goals. Of course, this has to go with empowerment in all fields – education, employment, health and societal inclusion.

As argued above, realism as a paradigm is down but not completely out. Its inability to cope with emerging issues, and, importantly, gender issues (and many over-the-horizon) others are becoming apparent. Often patriarchal, racist and neo-colonialist imbalances in power lead to gender-binary, ethno-centric, Western-biased conceptions. By allocating enough resources, gender equality and human rights are needed for traditionally marginalized groups.

Security is not only of the nation states but also of human beings. Women deprivation in many fields affects the lives of common people. Hence, it is essential to disrupt patriarchal and male-dominated power structures across levers of power (aid, trade, defense, and diplomacy).

By including gender, the security studies embrace fundamentally different research agendas, priorities and definitions. For many gender scholars, rapid globalization is the key to understanding the new types of global insecurities creating new threats while exacerbating the old ones.

Should this happen, there is hope that overtime chances of an equitable, balanced and inclusive society could emerge.

Professor Dr Maqsudul Hasan Nuri, "Gender, security and development — II," Business Recorder. 2020-04-08.
Keywords: Social sciences , Indian policies , state diplomacy , Cold war , Security threat , Security Studies , Copenhagen School , Societal inclusion Education , Employment , Health , US , WHO

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