ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Redefining and Feminising Security

Marginalised and rendered a footnote all through history, women's voices have been rarely heard in security concerns. But as events in the recent history of war have borne out, the need for women to move beyond the humanitarian front of the war story and claiming a seat at the negotiating table has become an imperative. Issues of genocide, impunity and security for all affect them as well, and their presence is necessary for building a 'just' and enduring peace, reconstruction and reconciliation.

I In a utopian fantasy – “Sultana’s Dream” (1905), Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain creates ‘Ladyland’, a world where women run the affairs of a country and men are confined to the ‘mardana’. War, crime and violence are unheard of in this highly educated society. Problems of drought and scarcity have been solved by means of scientific and technological research used in the service of people. Energy is drawn from solar power and people live in close contact and respect for nature. Rokeya’s vision (albeit, the mischievous reversal of dichotomous gender roles) is inspirational, for critical theorising of alternative political, economic and social realities.

It is an early representation of the concept of ‘human security’ from the perspective of women, who traditionally have been denied any political influence over national security issues. Cynthia Enloe (1989), in a study on making feminist sense of international politics, argues that were we to use an ‘ungendered compass’, the landscape of international politics would be ‘peopled only by men, elite men’. “Local housing officials, so the assumption goes, may have to take women’s experiences into account now and then. Social workers may have to pay some attention to feminist theorising about poverty. Trade union leaders and economists have to give at least a nod in the direction of feminist explanation of wage equalities. Yet officials making international policy and their professional critics are freed from even a token consideration of women’s experiences and feminist understanding of those experiences” The last masculine bastion is the security-defence domain.

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