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Hijrah, Immigration: the Historical-Religious Setting

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Islam is a missionary political religion, an ever expending faith that has no borders and no political limits. It is intended to be the universal hegemonic religion for all mankind, by force of Jihad; by propagation of Da’wah; and by mass immigration, and by demography of high birthrate.

The issue of Hijrah in the Islamic Sharī‘ah is clear: it is forbidden for Muslims to leave Islamic lands and to reside in non-Islamic territories. This is according to the Hadīth:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Allah’s Apostle said, “There is no Hijrah [from Mecca to Medina] after the Conquest [of Mecca], but Jihad and good intention remain.

That means, according to Islamic exegesis, Muslims cannot leave Islamic territory and cannot live in non-Islamic states and under non-Islamic rule. As long as there is an Islamic owned territory where Islamic law is the dominant, Muslims must live in it and must not leave it. This is according to the Islamic verse (Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:97): “… angels will say: was not Allah’s earth large enough for you to migrate…?”

Islamic exegetes translate these verses that Muhammad had forbid Muslims to live under non-Islamic rule. Muslims must leave territories in which the Islamic law is not the supreme and Islam is not ruling there, and migrate to Islamic territory as soon as possible. This commandment was never abolished, and he who violates it is considered being Murtad, who deserves a death penalty.

All Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence (Madhāhib) agree to this and in fact could not give other legal ruling, since it is anchored in the Qur’an.

Ibn Kathir, one of the most distinguished and highly influential Qur’an exegete, explains: “One who remains with polytheists at a place and lives with them, he is like them.” Hijrah is not the only guarantee to Islamic honor, liberty, and peace, but it is a guarantee the Muslims will not assimilate among the infidels.

For Zamachshari, when a person has no capability to establish his Dīn, Hijrah, moving back to the Islamic state, becomes an obligatory duty. This is also the attitude al-Tabari, who does not use the word Mamnû’ (forbidden), but Harām (religious taboo) as to clearly indicate what is the punishment of living in a non-Islamic state. Ibn Rushd insisted that Muslims are not allowed to live under non-Islamic rule, not only because the Sharī‘ah does function there (the main of the Hanafī School); and not only the Sharī‘ah must always be the supreme law (the main of the Shāfi‘ī School); but because it is impossible that an infidel rules over a Muslim. A Muslim that freely immigrates to non-Islamic territory and allows a Kāfir to rule over him is in fact Murtad, and his penalty is death

al-Mawardi, though he agrees with other exegetes, also adds to the issue as follows: a Muslim can live in Dār al-Kufr only in two cases. One, he had kept up struggle for the dominance of Islam to convert the un-Islamic system into an Islamic one. Second, having no chance of leaving the land he lives in a dislike and disrespect situation. The reason is that Islam is destined to rule and conquer and not to be ruled and be conquered by others.

Abu al-A‘la al-Mawdudi has the same opinion: a Muslim can live in Dār al-Kufr only if he makes all efforts for the predominance of Islam in that land (Iqāmat al-Dīn), or he lives under compulsion of tyranny and corruption. In all other cases he must live only in Dār al-Islām. Hijrah is complementary to Jihad and helps to establish the “rule of Allah,” the Sharī‘ah, only through the Khilāfah system.

Historically, the Hijrah was in fact the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, as the Meccans made their decision to execute Muhammad and his Sahābah. However, Islamic religious eschatology declares that the Hijrah It was a blessing act deliberately scheduled, decided, and executed by Allah for spreading his religion by means of expansion and occupation (Futûhāt) of the infidels’ territories. It was the command of Allah, promising the Muslims’ victory, a date that marked an essential stage for the establishment of the Islamic Ummah (Sûrat al-Nûr, 24:55). The Hijrah has become a cosmological transformation, an important factor in the process of consolidation and empowerment of the Islamic community.

For Islamic exegetes the Hijrah of Muhammad was the end of an era of weakness and marked a new beginning of success and victory. It was so important that the decision of Umar to mark the Islamic calendar beginning from the year 622 was accepted without any objection. The Hijrah was for the sake of the religion of Allah and the establishment of the Islamic Ummah to spread the religion all over the world. Therefore, the Hijrah is considered to be a Jihad for the sake of religion.

The Islamic eschatology declares: Medina was conquered by Hijrah and Mecca by the arms of Jihad. The first has strike the roots and the seeds of the Ummah, and the other has flourished its fruits worldwide. The first was the basis for development and the other was the pillar of manifestation and institutionalization. The first was the spirit that brought the existence while the other declared its triumph and victory worldwide. Therefore, Muslims must do their utmost to assimilate and integrate the infidels to Islam.

Muhammad forbade his followers to travel or to immigrate to a non-Muslim country: “I am innocent of any Muslim that lives amongst the Kuffār.” “Whoever collegiate or aggregate with non-Muslims and lives with them, he is one of them.” In the face of such a clearly defined prohibition, one must wonder how modern-day immigration is so widespread among the Muslims. Why is it that so many Muslims have chosen to live in the lands of the infidels, and do not return to the Islamic territory as soon as they have the opportunity? Do the economic-social burdens overcome the religious commandments?

Islamic exegesis and contemporary Muslim Imāms solve this issue as follows: it is forbidden to live in non-Islamic territory, in Dār al-Kufr, and staying there must be only temporary. Therefore, integration and assimilation of Muslim immigrants among the host states are forbidden. Yet, the sole reason for staying in Dar al-Kufr is to make all efforts to bring the non-Islamic territory under Islamic rule. If not, Muslims must do their best to leave back to Dār al-Islām territory.

This approach is elaborated in Surat al-Nisā’, 4:100:

“And whosoever leaves his country in duty to Allah, will find many places of refuge and abundance on the earth. And he who leaves his home and immigrate in the way of Allah and his messenger and death overtake him is sure to receive his reward from Allah…”

Khālid al-Mājid, one of contemporary influential Islamic exegetes, declares that it is a must upon Muslims to migrate from Dār al-Kufr to Dār al-Islām. However, it is lawful for the Muslim to stay in Dār al-Kufr under the following conditions: there is a valid reason to stay, as the necessity of an appropriate Hijrah; if he cannot find any Muslim country to migrate to, or he is persecuted there; and when he stays in Dār al-Kufr for a short period of time: to receive medical care, or business relations, or for education, or officially, serving his country as a diplomat. Under these, Hijrah is acceptable, and still the Muslim believer must remain faithful to Islam and to his brothers, and under any circumstance he should not favor his relation with the Kuffār over his Muslim brothers and Islamic belief.

Sheikh Muhammed Salih al-Munajid has issued a Fatwah: “It is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the Mushrikīn (those who associate other gods with Allah)… Do not enter upon the Mushrikīn in their churches on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them… Whosoever settles in the land of the non-Muslims and celebrates their new year’s festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”

In answering to the question: “Is it allowed to take the nationality of the US or a European country?” Muhammad Taqi al-Uthmani, of the Majlis Mujma’ al-Fiqh al-Islāmi, answered in a Fatwah: “Taking permanent residence in a non-Muslim country, adopting their nationality, and making it one’s country of residence as its citizen is a matter of apostasy. He would not be regarded as a Muslim and is liable of being declared a Kāfir…” The best solution is the Muslim invites the Kuffār to Islam. Then, his stay in Dār al-Kufr is not only permissible, but he will be rewarded for the merit of it.

Travelling to the land of the Kuffār is impermissible (la Yajûz) unless two conditions are met: (a) that the person has knowledge (‘Ilm) to repel doubts (Shûbbahāt); (b) that he keeps his faith (Imān) to prevent him from falling into lustful desires (Shahawāt); and he keeps a strong animosity toward the Kuffār. If these conditions are not met, Muslims are not allowed to travel due to the Fitnah that exists there. Residing in Dār al-Kufr is absolutely forbidden as it involves mixing with the infidels. Muslims in a country that is not governed according to the Sharī‘ah should do their utmost to bring it under Islamic law. It is Bid‘ah not to call for and to work steadily for the implementation of the Sharī‘ah.

This also marks the ultimate message that integration and assimilation of Muslims among the host states in Dār al-Kufr are forbidden. This commandment is abiding: as long as there are infidel territories, as Dar al-Kufr exists on earth, the injunction of Hijrah continues to be obligatory up to Day of Judgment. The basis of this methodology is the Hadīth related to Muhammad:

“I charge you with five of what Allah has charged me with: to assemble; to listen; to obey; to immigrate; and to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah.”

The first three of the five commands are part of Imān, belief: to assemble means to join together the Muslim community, the Ummah, to work together for the Islamic cause, rest upon the principle of Tawhīd (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:255; Sûrat al-An‘ām, 6:103; Sûrat al-Rûm, 30:26–7; Sûrat al-Hadīd, 57:30). The other two, to listen and to obey means absolutely and wholeheartedly believe in Allah and his messenger, that is, obedience and submission (Sûrat ‘Imrān, 3:62; Sûrat al-Nisā’, 4:171; Sûrat al-Mā’idah, 5:73; Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:31; Sûrat Tā Hā, 20:8; Sûrat Hashr, 59:22). Muhammad, who was sent as the final prophet to all mankind, is the perfect model all believers must obey and imitate (Sûrat al-Ahzāb, 33:21; Sûrat al-Anfāl, 8:58; Sûrat al-Hujurāt, 49:22). This is Sunnat Rasûl Allāh, and Sirā al-Mustaqīm believers must follow. The other two, Hijrah and Jihad, are commanded for materializing the interests of Islam, to bring about Islam’s victory. To Immigrate and to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah are tightly connected with the best belief:

“Surely those who believed and immigrated and fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah, these hope for mercy of Allah… (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:218).

Surely those who believed and immigrated and fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah with their property and their souls, and those who gave shelter and helped — these are guardians of each other…” (Sûratal-Anfāl, 8:72).

“And (as for) those who believed and immigrated and fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah, and those who gave shelter and helped, these are the believers truly…” (Sûratal-Anfāl, 8:74).

“And (as for) those who believed afterward and immigrated and fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah with you, they are of you; and the possessors of relationships are nearer to each other in the ordinance of Allah; surely Allah knows all things…” (Sûratal-Anfāl, 8:75).

“Those who believed and immigrated and fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah with their property and their souls are much higher in rank with Allah…” (Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:20).

“Surely your Lord, with respect to those who immigrated after they are persecuted, then fought in Jihad in the way of Allah and are patient…” (Sûrat al-Nahl, 16:110).

This is the Islamic trilogy: belief (Imān) that leads to immigration (Hijrah) that is accomplished by holy war against the infidels (Jihād Fī-Sabīlillāh). Before Hijrah, Islam had to adopt patience and express the believers’ faith through Salāh and Zakāt; while after the Hijrah, Islam ordained for Jihad and conquests of their enemies. The primary purpose of Jihad is to create a world order characterized by total submission to Allah through Imān. These three are the components for spreading the message to establish the Islamic Khilāfah worldwide. From these verses, “those who believed” (Âmanû); are “those who immigrated” (Hājarû); and are those who “fought in Jihad for the sake of Allah” (Jāhadû). Belief, immigration, and conquests are the stepping stones for the expansion of Islam as the only legitimate lawful religion to the entire world.

Imān, Hijrah, and Jihad are tightly interconnected: Jihad is not complete without Hijrah; and Hijrah and Jihad are not complete without Imān. Each can be the pivotal goal: the primary goal of Imān is the establishment of the Islamic Ummah that rules over the world, and it is achieved by Hijrah and Jihad. It is also true that the primary goal of the Hijrah is the establishment of a world Islamic Ummah, and it is accomplished by Imān and Jihad. That is also to say that Jihad is the supreme means to bring about the Islamic world hegemony, and it is assisted by Hijrah and Imān. As Imān is basic and obligatory, so are Hijrah and Jihad. Thereby, Imān is a prelude to Hijrah, as Hijrah is a prelude to Jihad. Without Imān, Hijrah has no meaning, and without Hijrah, Jihad has no meaning. It can also be said that the aims and the objectives of the Hijrah are to revive Imān by performing Jihad, as to establish Islam’s authority in the world.

The Islamic confession ultimately states that humanity and all its governments belong to Allah and his messenger (Sûrat al-A‘rāf, 7:158; Sûrat al-Anbiyā’, 21:107). Muslim exegetes state without reference that Muhammad declared, “migration cannot be ended as long as there is Kufr in the world.” In the Ahādīth it is reiterated:

“Hijrah will continue until the sun rises from the West. Hijrah would not be stopped until repentance is cut off, and repentance will not be cut off until the sun rises from the West.”

“Hijrah ceases only when a place, a community or a country has been won over, and Fath (occupation) has been achieved. Only then, there is no Hijrah.”

As long as the enemy resists Islam and Islam is not regarded the only supreme political religious system by humanity, Hijrah continues to exit. It becomes a must by displaying and practicing the religion openly. This is the basis of the Muslims’ mass street praying in the main streets, a phenomenon that is known only in Dār al-Kufr, in Western countries. This is an absolutely 100% political declaration and it has nothing to do with religious belief, that is, “we are here and we come to dominate.” Moreover, Muslims in the West can perform Jihad and Da‘wah as a means of occupation only by multiplying the numbers of Muslim immigrants, by Hijrah. The power of Islam cannot be executed if the Muslims are few, without increase in numbers and without the arrival of more new Muslims, as it was proven all along Islamic history of occupations. As there can be no empowerment of the religion without Hijrah, Islam cannot be demonstrated in Dār al-Kufr if the Muslims were not to immigrate and settle down there as a planned strategy.

Here is the basis of Islamic demography as a product of immigration and birthrate. The emigration and settlement of Muslims in the West is a religious duty, forming and reorganizing the Muslims to establish an Islamic community, the Ummah. In due time its role will be ushering in and enforcing the Sharī‘ah as the only legitimate way of life. This is the primary objective of Islamic mission to the peoples of Dār al-Kufr, to the infidel’s states, to be occupied and be Islamized from within.

Muhammad Abd al-Khaliq recommends establishment and consolidation of Muslim communities in Dār al-Kufr by huge immigration and at the same time by practicing loyalty and allegiance to the Islamic Ummah alone. The immigrants must not accept the system of laws of the Kuffār and not to accommodate in the host societies. They must commence with the establishment of mosques everywhere; and practice their public prayers in the main streets, as a visible display of the Islamic power. The most important mission is to educate and indoctrinate the young generation born in Dār al-Kufr to follow the Sharī‘ah and by learning the Arabic language as a top priority. At the same time Muslims must produce inroads into the affairs of the host communities to weaken them from within and to facilitate their conversion to Islam, using Da‘wah and Jihad.

This is exactly how Muslim immigrants act and behave while residing in the West. Hijrah, in concert with military conquest of Jihad comprised the backbone of Islamic expansionism through history. It was in essence the Arabization and Islamization processes that have brought Islam to become dominant from Western Asia to Spain. It has transformed the Middle East, for example, from Christian-majority to Arab-Islamic dominance. Today, Hijrah is designed to subvert and subdue the non-Muslim societies and thus pave the way for eventually Islamization of these societies. Indeed, Hijrah has become one of the three Islamic strategies to occupy the world and at the same time one of the main important steps in the process of spreading Islam as the only victorious political religion.

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Feminism: A Critique of Realism and The Way Forward

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In around eighteen countries of the world, for e.g. Bolivia, Iran, Qatar, Sudan and Syria, men can legally stop women from working. Women still need to take permission from their husbands to participate in the labour force of the country. There are around 59 countries yet to regulate laws concerning sexual harassment at workplace and around 45 nations with no laws protecting women from domestic violence. Women, even in the 21st century, are not independent in the true sense. Alone in South Africa, according to a survey conducted by the South African Medical Research Council, approximately one in four men surveyed admitted to committing rape. This alarming oppressive status of women even in the contemporary times leads us to the question, where did this male dominance come from?

 It is the colonialism, war and power struggle between the states which resulted into oppression of women even in the regions where women were particularly considered of high status. John Hoffman argues “states themselves are an expression of patriarchal power; leadership itself is monolithic, hierarchical and violent” (Hoffman, 2001) Historically, women had less rights and they were viewed as subordinate. Their role was limited to the household chores. During this time, only men had opportunities by which they participated in economic, social and political activities. Women lacked education and had fewer opportunities. In fact, for several years, women were not allowed to study ‘manly subjects’ such as science and law.Thus, leading towards a world of man forming a state and representing the interest of men. These manly states, being formed at the time when women had limited or in some places, no civil rights were led by a hegemon. This is also known as masculine hegemony.

Through the lenses of realist theories such as Hans Morgenthau, international society is anarchic in nature and all states function to maximize their state’s interest. These state’s interest is essentially achieved by power. Power, according to realism, equates military force and war. It revolves around the issues of war and security. It focuses on the role of nation-state and makes a bold assumption that all the states act in accordance to their national interest. It believes that states cooperate with each other solely for selfish national interest. Realist also don’t believe that the international organizations can establish peace where state cooperate without selfish interest. Plus, they believed that all the conflicts can be resolved only by coercion. (Morganthau, 1948) However, the emergence of economic interdependence due to globalization has increased cooperation from economic relations based on trade and investment. Furthermore, after the world war two, rise of multilateral institutions such as United Nations, led the world to more cooperative relations amongst states. For instance, realist failed to predict the fall of Soviet Union and peace post-cold war.  Hence, due to structural challenges and changes in the international relations, the relations amongst states does not revolve only around the realist issues of war and security.

In the late 1980s, theorist started to examine the role of gender in international relations. According to feminist, the conventional IR theories, realism and liberalism, present a partial view. The feminist theory has evolved through the three major movements, popularly known as waves of feminism. The first aimed to achieve recognition of equal rights, with a focus on suffrage. The second wave further demanded equal rights and treatment, and was marked by the emergence of the study of gender as a social construct. This feminist theory of IR is a critic of realism which focuses on power and considers patriarchy. Realism’s pessimistic approach to the international relations ignores the role of individuals. In contemporary times, the feminist theory brings new prospective to the international relations. J. Ann Tickner, a standpoint feminist argues that IR is gendered to “marginalize women’s voices”. She emphasizes that women have knowledge, perspectives and experiences that should be brought to bear on the study of international relations.” (Ruiz). Despite all the gender equality movements, we are still far from achieving the equality in society. Today, Women represent around 50% of the total population of world and only 39% of women globally participate in the labour force. As Emma Watson rightly points out, “How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcomed to participate in it?”  Out of around 193 countries, only 22 countries have female head of the states. According to the feminist, the key roles in international relations of diplomats, policy makers are played by men who come from patriarchal backgrounds. Thus, feminist challenge the Eurocentric and masculine theories of IR who fail to accommodate gender, race, class and ethnicity. Hence, on the contrary, feminism prioritizes development, peace and human security.

In the year 2014, Sweden, for the first time in the world, announced a feminist foreign policy and became the first country in the world to have a ‘feminist government’. Six years later, September 2019, Mexico pledged to adopt a feminist foreign policy during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Earlier this year in January 2020, it became first Latin American country to launch a feminist foreign policy. France, Canada and Norway also expressed interest to set out feminist guidelines of their foreign policies. This indicates a beginning of new approach to the international relations.  Feminist foreign policy broadly refers to a state’s commitment to adopt policies wherein citizens, irrespective to their gender, live to their full potential. In case of Sweden, the country has recognized a separate gender equality policy since the early 70s. Hence, it was not as shocking for the citizen’s as it was for the world. The feminist foreign policy of Sweden emphasizes on three Rs: Rights, representation and resources. Rights refers to combating discrimination and full enjoyment of human rights, representation emphasizes on participation of women in decision making at all levels of the civil society, and resources seek to ensure that the resources are allocated to promote equality and equal opportunities. (Handbook Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy, 2018)

Feminist foreign policy broadly means the acknowledgment of injustice that exist globally. It emphasizes on building peace promoting organizations and criticizes military alliances such as NATO. The feminist foreign policy also criticizes the five permanent members of the UN security council who are the world’s biggest arms exporters. Sweden not only become the “strongest voice for gender equality and full employment of human rights for all women and girls” but also inspired many countries. For instance, global south’s first country to have a FFP, Mexico, not only aims to include women’s rights but also LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, immigration and trade. (Delgado, 2020)

The FFP of Sweden has made a significant impact. In 2017, Sweden during its presidency at the united nations security council elaborated and emphasized on gender equality. It also played a crucial role in peace talks with respect to Yemen crisis. Yemen crisis is influenced by the Arab spring, an anti-governmental protest, against the president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in power since last thirty years. This uprising ended with a political deal, mediated by the United Nations and the Gulf cooperation Council. Thus, president Saleh stepped down and gave power to the vice president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Followed by a national dialogue conference, a constitution was agreed to be drafted. This process led to tensions between the parties and the negotiations resulted into escalation in conflict and formation of Saudi led coalition in March 2015 with support of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan, UAE and Qatar. (they further left the coalition in 2017). The coalition had received arms and intelligence from powerful countries such as USA, UK and France. This has created more conflict since they conducted several air campaigns causing death of civilians and a major humanitarian crisis. As the tensions grew, not only women and children but civilian’s vulnerability grew. The UN officials have called this a ‘man-made crisis.’ Sweden’s Foreign Minister as well as one of the architects of feminist foreign policy of Sweden, Margot Wallström, played a key role. She had personally visited Yemen after catastrophic bomb blasts in the country.  Khaled Al- Yamini, the foreign minister of Hadi government and Houthi’s representative, Mohmad Abdelsalam signed the ‘Stockholm agreement.’  The Stockholm agreement came in three parts, the first part dealt with ceasefire and redeployment of forces, then the second term of agreement was facilitating the movement of humanitarian aid and lastly, Prisoner swap (reuniting POW with their families). This was a breakthrough agreement as it brought an end to a long pending peace talk. The usage of diplomatic technique of negotiation to resolve a conflict is the practice of feminist approach to the study of IR.

The theory of ecofeminism is a branch of feminism which examines relation between women and nature. Ecofeminist draw parallels between oppression of nature and oppression of women. French feminist Francoise d’Eaubonne coined the name in her 1974 book le feminisme ou la mort (Feminism or Death). She argued that everything is related to everything else. Man dominates the nature for selfish interests and in similar ways women are oppressed and objectified. Thus, liberation of women is essential to bring about the environmental change. Connecting the feminist foreign policy of Sweden and ecofeminism, we can see a positive impact with respect to action towards climate change. Sweden worked to mainstream gender equality in the new Paris climate agreement (COP21). Sweden gained regional support to put women forward and in focus for climate change and climate justice. This led to the establishment of Women’s Global Call for Climate Justice. This campaign was supported by over 7700 organizations. Along with this, Sweden has adopted a climate policy, aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emission by 2045. The Swedish government has a specific fund for bilateral cooperation with strategic countries in the field of environment and climate. Currently, cooperation with around ten countries, among others Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, China, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, USA, and Vietnam are financed by the fund. For e.g. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has been cooperating regarding India’s ambitions to phase down the use of the powerful greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons. In addition to peace talks and climate change action, Sweden has taken action to strengthen the human rights of refugee women and girls. According to Linklater, critical theory can be seen as the instrument of powerless to advance more equitable global relations. Sweden has initiated multiple bilateral-multilateral meetings to address the link of migration and human trafficking, prostitution. Sweden has successfully ensured that these issues are included in the UN resolutions and in the declaration of UN summit for Refugees and Migration, 2016. Hence, looking at the feminist foreign policy of Sweden through the lenses of ecofeminism, critical theory and feminist theory, it appears to be the new way forward in IR. (Sweden, 2017)

Besides Sweden, India’s declaration of Triple Talaq as unconstitutional, Argentina’s vow to legalise abortion and emergence of female state leaders such as Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, Dilma Rousseff and Tsai Ing-wen has introduced world a new feminist leadership. Furthermore, during the extraordinary crisis situation- covid19 outbreak, under the leadership of Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan recovered exceptionally well. Jacinda Ardern’s emotional response to terrorist attack and Angela Merkel’s strategic Ukraine crisis’ negations with Russia indicates as rightly said by Barack Obama, “If women ran every country in the world, there would be improvement in living standards and outcomes

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Women in leadership ‘must be the norm’

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Ola Alaghbary, co-founder and chairwoman of a youth foundation in Yemen, works on empowering women to make positive changes in their communities.photo: Heba Naji

We can no longer exclude half of humanity from international peace and security matters, the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, emphasizing the need to fully address the challenges and gaps that continue to prevent women having an equal say.

Today, women’s leadership is a cause. Tomorrow, it must be the norm”, Secretary-General António Guterres told the meeting, covering landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Frontline women

Having just visited the photo exhibition, In their Hands: Women Taking Ownership of Peace – a collection of inspiring stories of women around the world seen through the lenses of women photographers – he told ambassadors that the exhibit brings to “vivid life” their dedication to “the most important and consequential cause of all, peace”.

“From the safety of this chamber, we discuss and debate pathways of peace for countries around the world”, said the UN chief. “But the women portrayed in the exhibition are on the front lines of the fight for peace”.

He called them peacebuilders, changemakers and human rights leaders, and described their work mediating and negotiating with armed groups; implementing peace agreements; pushing for peaceful transitions; and fighting for women’s rights and social cohesion throughout their communities.

Yet, he pointed out, “women remain on the periphery of formal peace processes, and they’re largely excluded from rooms where decisions are made”.

Disheartening trend

Citing rising rates of violence and misogyny; the extreme under-representation of women in decision-making positions; and a myriad of challenges faced by those in conflict, the top UN official observed that the power imbalance between men and women remains “the most stubborn and persistent of all inequalities”.

In every humanitarian emergency, the clock on women’s rights has not stopped. It’s moving backwards”, he said regretfully.

In Ethiopia, women have been victims of sexual violence; in Yemen, excluded from political processes by the warring parties; in Afghanistan, undergoing a rapid reversal of the rights they had achieved in recent decades; and in Mali, after two coups in nine months, “the space for women’s rights is not just shrinking, but closing”, Mr. Guterres said.

‘Fast-track women’

The UN chief stressed: “We need to fight back, and turn the clock forward for every woman and girl” – the commitment outlined in Our Common Agenda and Call to Action on Human Rights.

“Increasing women’s representation and leadership across every aspect of the UN’s peace activities is critical to improving the delivery of our mandate and better representing the communities we serve”, he said.

But Council’s support is needed for partnerships, protection and participation.

Women leaders and their networks must be supported to meaningfully engage in peace and political processes, he explained.

Secondly, women human rights defenders and activists must be protected as they carry out their essential work.

And finally, women’s “full, equal and meaningful participation” must be supported in peace talks, peacebuilding, and political systems as countries transition to peace, he said.

We need full gender parity”, underscored the UN chief. “We know it can be done”.

Advancing women’s rights

Women should not have to accept reversals of their rights in countries in conflict, or anywhere else.

Mr. Guterres said that the UN will double down on “truly inclusive peacemaking” and put women’s participation and rights “at the centre of everything we do – everywhere we do it”.

The best way to build peace is through inclusion, and to honour the commitment and bravery of women peacemakers we must “open doors to their meaningful participation”.

Let’s turn the clock forward on women’s rights and give half of humanity the opportunity to build the peace we all seek”, concluded the Secretary-General.

Time to say ‘enough’

To create a tangible difference in the lives of women and girls, UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous, highlighted the need for governments and the Security Council “to step up” to address the way we confront peace and security issues.

For too long violence has targeted females and their rights; and women continue to be marginalized and excluded “in those very places where they can drive change”, she told the Council.

“Surely the time has come to say enough”, she said.

Open doors to women

While acknowledging a “glimmer of light” resulting from the passage of the original resolution, Ms. Bahous said that while not enough, it must be used in the fight for women’s equality.

Noting that vast military spending has been “in bitter contrast” to limited investments in other areas, she advocated for curbing military spending and expressed hope that delegates “share my sense of urgency” on the issue, which impacts other priorities, including women’s rights.

The UN Women chief noted that increased participation, combined with curbing the sale of arms in post-conflict settings, significantly reduces the risk of backsliding.

She reminded ambassadors that while “equal nations are more peaceful nations”, equality requires higher levels of support for healthcare and related services.

Moreover, Ms. Bahous regretted that women’s organizations are poorly funded, noting that without the necessary financial resources, they cannot effectively carry out their work.

Turning to Afghanistan, she shone a light on the women who had collaborated with the UN and whose lives are now in danger, advocating for doors to be opened wider, to women asylum seekers.

Women at the stakeout

Subsequently, former Afghan women politicians took to the Security Council stakeout to ask the international community to pressure the Taliban “to put their words in action” and fulfill their promises made in 2019 in Qatar including supporting girls’ education and women’s rights.

“The reason we are here today is to meet with different Member States and ask them to regard women and human rights in Afghanistan as a matter of national security of their own countries, because it’s not just a political or social issue but it’s a matter of security”, said Fawzia Koofi, former Peace Negotiator and first woman Deputy Speaker of Afghan Parliament.

Former Afghan Parliamentarian and Chairperson of the House Standing Committee for Human Rights, Civil Society and Women Affairs, Naheed Fareed, questioned whether the world wanted to “register in history” their recognition of “a de facto structure that is in place in Afghanistan”,  to represent Afghan women, their dignity and desires. “From my point of view, they don’t”, she told reporters.

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New Social Compact

Gender Mainstreaming and the Development of three Models

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The field of gender mainstreaming plays a central role in the debate of critical feminist International Relations (IR) theorists. Reading the influential work of Enloe 2014 regarding the locations and the roles of women in the subject of IR brings women into the central discussion of international studies. However, some of the feminist IR scholars defy the negligible participation of women in international political theory and practice. 

The main aim of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equity in all spheres of life (social, political, economic), without any doubt that gender mainstreaming has had a central role in pushing the strategy of realising gender equity since the concept’s inception. However, feminist IR scholarship admits that it is not the best approach, or in other words, the right pathway concerning feminist struggle. There are many different approaches and mechanisms in which such dissatisfaction is conveyed; nonetheless, at the axis of Postcolonial Feminist scholars debate, gender main streaming depoliticises the concerns of feminist scholars. Feminist studies show that theoretically, the change of structuring of gender equity determinations from women to gender in gender mainstreaming perhaps contradicted achievements made to bring women from the periphery to the centre of Feminist IR. 

The emergence of Models in Development:

Discussion asking to what extent women have been benefited (or not) from the developmenthas given rise to the following three models. These approaches show how men and women are affected in different ways because of the development of how the lives of women, in particular, are affected. 

Women in Development (WID):

By the 1970s, the reality that women were subjugated and left far behind in the process of development became clear and widely recognised. In some areas, this recognition even acknowledged development has further worsened the status of women, for example, the exclusion of women from the main development projects. The Women in Development (WID) approach proposed the inclusion of women into programs related to development. WID was a successful initiative that strengthened the consideration of women as an integral part of society. The decade of 1975 to 1985 was even declared the decade of women. However, this approach was problematic, as WID did not focus on structural changes in social and economic systems, which were necessary for discussion. Furthermore, this approach was not enough to bring women to the mainstream of development successfully.  

Women and Development (WAD):

Thisapproach was critical and arose in the late 1970s using Marxist feminist (critical) thoughts. As its nature, the Women and Development (WAD) approach criticised WID because of an increasing gap between men and women. According to WAD, the idea of women’s inclusion was wrong because women already contributed substantially to society. Yet, they were not receiving the benefits of their contributions, and WID further contributed to global inequalities. The main rationale of WAD was to increase interactions between men and women rather than just implementing strategies of women’s inclusion. Besides, WAD considered the class system and unequal distribution of resources to be primary problems, as it’s women and men who suffer from the current system. On a theoretical level, WAD strongly endorsed changes to the class system; however, it proved impractical as it ignored the reason for patriarchy and failed to answer the social relationships between men and women. 

Gender and Development (GAD):

In the 1980s, further reflection on development approaches started the debate of Gender and Development (GAD). As GAD followed and learned from the weaknesses and failures of WID and WAD, it was a more comprehensive approach. GAD paid particular attention to social and gender relations and divisions of labour in society. The GAD approach strove to provide further rise to women’s voices while simultaneously emphasising women’s productive and reproductive roles, contending taking care of children is a state responsibility. As a result of GAD, in 1996, the Zambian government changed their department of WID to the Gender and Development Division (GADD). These changes made it easier for women to raise their voices more constructively in an African country. Gender development is a continuous, current phenomenon. Women have choices today that they did not have in prior or even the last generation. 

The main point is that instead of discussing whether to mainstream gender or not, it needs to be discussed how it can happen in a better way. Gender mainstreaming is considered a theory of change in GAD. 

The above discussion has offered an overview of how gender mainstreaming’s theoretical approaches and expectations have met with the praxis; however, some scholars critique the concept of depoliticising and diluting equality struggles. These considerations are also worth inquiry and, accordingly, are discussed below. 

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