Research Portfolio Post #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretativist Research

I am proposing to research women’s decisions and women’s rights in context because I want to find out why the narrative of the “Third World Woman” that emerged in the 1990s,  remains dominant in intergovernmental organizations and non-government organizations to help my reader understand the framing of  women’s local experiences , agency and decision making from international organizations perspective and development practices.

This idea of the “Third World Woman” is based on the pivotal works of Chandra Mohanty in The Third World Woman: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse [1] as the framework of generating and anlyzing discourses from NGOs and IGO as actors and agents in women’s realities. In the sources and texts, I am looking for representations of victim-hood by NGOs, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and feminist activists in portraying and framing women’s local experiences and agency within the narrative and understandings of a “Third World Women”. These may be evident in sources produced from UN experts such as UN committee Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts,  working groups, leading feminists’, activists, scholars and NGO volunteers. Interpreting how these experts from academic, local and official levels reinforce or exert women’s participation or perceived lack thereof  in  their decisions within both social and individual constraints.

International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW), an non-government organization created under provisions of the CEDAW, published a book on Assessing the Status of Women : a Guide to Reporting Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women[2]. These set of guidelines are methods for analyzing and evaluating women’s status and creates certain criteria for a women’s status to be achieved and frames these as questions for states and women. The language of the women fitting into these criteria become a central part in studying the way IGOs  framed and perceive women’s changes rather than how women’s attitudes and responses to their own agency and status. This continual eclipsing of women’s gendered local experiences become the  basis of whether women view their progress and change within development discourse as impacting and therefore relevant to them.

A 2017 statement from CEDAW Committee newly elected Chairperson Dalia Leinarte, frames violent acts against women and challenges to women’s rights are perceived within the social rather than the individual. [3]  In this statement, the framing of women as agents and actors is underlined as a “social rather than individual phenomena”[4] as women become points of analysis representative of the whole but are not evaluated by whether these women see themselves as socialized within these so called phenomena or instances as outlined/ stated by the UN. Understanding these assumptions that NGOs and IGOs take and how these shape or influence women’s perceived and or actual lived experiences.

Complacency, victim-hood and challenges to change within the context of change and development discourse from both officials and experts also become representative in feminist discourse. In an article from the Women’s Major Group, “Women must Want Change: The City Advertiser, 2* Edition].”as a part of their “Media Advisory” from the New Straits Times in Malaysia outlines underlying feminist perspectives that perpetuate the narrative of Third World Women as requiring change for progress and assumption that change has been pushed onto these women in instances where they view themselves as changed. [5]  Through development certain attitudes and demands through Western feminist lenses and a sense of “othering” towards victims and women as analysis rather than agents.

The discourse framing women particularly within their social rather than individual realities maybe eclipsing more localized experiences  in practice by women and for women but is an interesting starting point for my research that will require more in depth analysis and data collection to depict more clear representations and relevant discourses.

[1] Chandra Talpade Mohanty. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Feminist Review, no. 30 (1988): 61. doi:10.2307/1395054.

[2] Jane Frances Connors, and Andrew Byrnes. “Assessing the Status of Women : a Guide to Reporting Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” 2nd ed. London: Women and Youth Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, 1996.

[3] Dalia Leinarte, “Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women” s. 72. A/ 2017. (United Nations: New York)

[4] Ibid.

[5] Caroline Yap. “Women must Want Change: The City Advertiser, 2* Edition].” New Straits Times, Aug 13, 2001, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/266681188?accountid=8285 (accessed November 10, 2019).

Bibliography

Connor, Jane Frances and Byrnes, Andrew. “Assessing the Status of Women : a Guide to Reporting Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” 1996. 2nd ed. London: Women and Youth Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat.

Leinarte, Dalia “Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women” s. 72. A/CONF/ 2017. (United Nations: New York)

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Feminist Review, no. 30 (1988): 61-88. doi:10.2307/1395054.

United Nations, Department of Public Information, “International Day of the Girl Child,11 October 2019: Agents for change: Girls take up the fight for a better world.” 11 October 2019. https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25124&LangID=E (Accessed 10 November 2019).

Yap, Caroline. “Women must Want Change: The City Advertiser, 2* Edition].” New Straits Times. Aug 13, 2001. http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxyau.wrlc.org/docview/266681188?accountid=8285 (Accessed November 10, 2019).

 

2 thoughts to “Research Portfolio Post #8: Qualitative Data Sources for Interpretativist Research”

  1. Hello! I thought your post was interesting and it is an important topic. I am researching discourses within the development sector concerning sex work so naturally I am interested in your topic. Do you think you will end up doing a genealogy or an analysis on how this discourse informs norms? I can see both forms of discourse analysis with your topic. Also I think you should look into the works of Chandra Mohantry, Elizabeth Berenstien, and Krista Hunt. They are researchers who have done interpretivist research on how gender and agency is understood by those working to alleviate gender inequality. I think they may help with your literature review and also help you identify some places to look for primary sources.

  2. Lizzie — overall you’ve done a very good job here framing your project for an interpretivist approach and discussing sources that provide examples of the various representations of women in various ways. The idea that you are analyzing the persistence of “…the narrative of the “Third World Woman” that emerged in the 1990s…” is interesting, but remember that doing that means having primary source evidence that demonstrates the representations that make up this discourse. Your proposed research here seems to hinge on an idea in the Mohanty article, but the specific empirical examples that you offer suggest other types of representations. Rather than assume a given discourse or set of representations (and rather than assume that you might find texts that demonstrate that discourse) it’d be best to focus on the particular representations and the constructions/contestations of meanings in the texts that you have found as the basis for understanding how shared meanings about your object of inquiry are constructed, reproduced, and challenged.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *