The United Nations Millenium Goals (MDGS) agenda officially draws to an end in 2014. While the next few years will provide us time to critically access the success and limitations of the MDG, now is the time for us, as sociologists, and for the broader public to actively weigh in and contribute to the ongoing global discussion on framing the post-2015 development agenda.
For decades, feminist sociologists have highlighted how violence against women is closely linked to structural and cultural factors that subordinate women. Through our theoretical frameworks, methodologies and actions, we have underscored how gender inequalities intersect and are interlocked with other forms of inequalities; how limited rights, lack of equal access to resources and exclusion from participation in decision-making processes impede the elimination of violence against women at the micro, meso and macro levels.
There have been significant efforts by researchers, anti-violence movements and non-governmental organizations to shift violence against women from private problem to a public issue and also the recognition of violence against women as a human rights issue by the United Nations. Yet, we are still a long way from making the elimination of all forms of violence against women a reality. Globalization, defined by neoliberalism, has further broadened the range of problems to include the impact of militarization, securitization, cyber violence, privatization and marketization. Women continue to be the target of violence through rape, domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment in the workplace, as migrants, as a consequence of armed conflict and much more. Vast numbers of women continue to be denied the control over their own bodies and denied the fundamental right to live free from violence.
For many of us, charting out a post 2015 development agenda and prioritizing the elimination of violence against women cannot be addressed in isolation from the broader concern for women’s rights and equality. It requires serious attention to addressing the pernicious aspects of globalization and the consequence of development defined by the neoliberal agenda. What needs to be addressed at this critical juncture is how effectively and realistically can we challenge the development models that governments, multilateral, agencies and corporations have charted for mapping progress. For a post 2015 agenda, we need to challenge the contradiction between the rhetoric of equality and the current paradigm of progress that is substantially influenced by the corporate sector and its interests. We need to re-conceptualize the development policies and practices in the international agenda so as to make it more inclusive and sustainable by taking into account the local, transnational and global contexts. We have to create dialogues and collaborations between those who have insights to offer through their lived experiences and those who are able to translate these needs onto a larger canvas. We have to re-examine the role of the state but most importantly, evolve alternatives to the hegemonic neoliberal economy, which marginalizes and erases vast constituencies of disempowered people. It will entail examining and offering alternative frameworks of personal, organizational, and institutional relations.
Ending violence against women and ensuring women’s human rights in the post 2015 agenda is to seek ways that will ensure a redistribution of resources as well as the ability of ALL to participate in decision-making and breaking down the hierarchies of power, education, technology, that shape the relationships between individuals, groups, societies, and beyond.
Margaret Abraham is Professor of Sociology at Hofstra University and Vice President for Research of the International Sociological Association. She is the author of Speaking the Unspeakable, the first book on Marital Violence Among South Asian Immigrants in the United States. She is also the co-editor of the recently published Contours of Citizenship: Women, Diversity and the Practices of Citizenship and Making a Difference: Linking Research and Action in Practice, Pedagogy and Policy for Social Justice.
To view the Huffington Post article, “A Global Goal on Gender Equality,” click here.