Gender Panel



Gender, Peace and Security in Southeast Asia

Genre, paix et sécurité en Asie du Sud-Est


Friday, October 22, 2021


11:00 – 12:45

VenueVenue 2Venue 2


The 20th anniversary of the launch of the United Nations’ Women, Peace, and Security Agenda is a good opportunity to take stock and reflect on the many promises and challenges that mark its diffusion and localization in regional context. This panel brings scholars at various stages of their academic career and working on various facets of gender, peace, and security in Southeast Asia to discuss areas of convergence and divergence in how the interconnections between gender, peace, and security manifest in distinct spaces and issue-areas within the region. Some papers on this panel look at the ramifications of gender, peace, and security in Southeast Asia, and the often tense encounters that arise as it is being actively reinterpreted and challenged by regional states, institutions, and civil society actors. Others move beyond the UN agenda itself and explore understudied dimensions of how gender and (in)security play out in unanticipated ways on the ground and at domestic levels (e.g., Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar). Many do both of these things. Taken together, these papers develop new and productive areas of inquiry in the study of gender and security beyond the West, and in Southeast Asia in particular, that give serious attention to local actors' agency and the existence of competing meanings and alternative perspectives.

Convenor/Animateur: Stéphanie Martel, Department of Political Studies, Queen's University

Chair/Président: Stéphanie Martel, Department of Political Studies, Queen's University

Discussant/Intervenant: Yvonne Su, York University

Event poster


Women’s Participation and Visibility in Anti-Authoritarian Social Media Movements

Bella Aung, PhD Student, Queen's University

When Myanmar formally began its transition into a new democracy in 2010, women were hopeful for an improvement in their political representation. After Aung San Suu Kyi joined the parliament in 2012 and became the de facto leader of the country in 2015, many women attempted to enter politics. However, with very few exceptions, Burmese politics remained highly dominated by men. This male dominance is finally being challenged in the aftermath of the military coup that took place in Myanmar on 01 February 2021. Indeed, women are at the forefront of three important anti-military movements that arose out to organize civil resistance to the coup: the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), frontline protests, and a social media awareness movement. Not only do these movements feature many women participants, but more than a handful have taken on leadership roles. This paper takes Myanmar as a case study to investigate the role of violence as a catalyst for women’s political leadership in traditionally conservative societies, where feminism has historically been frowned upon. The goal of this research is to explore how and why nationwide violence mobilized women into political leadership instead of the support roles they served in previous movements. This paper will focus on the social media awareness movement and how violence has influenced the activism of its women leaders. I will conduct a social media content analysis of Facebook and Twitter posts under the hashtag “#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar,” examining how feminism has become increasingly central to the movement over time.

Opportunities for Peace: Analyzing the Intersection of Security and Disasters in Southeast Asia

Emma Fingler, Queen's University

Southeast Asia has an average annual economic loss of US$ 676 billion from disasters (UNESCAP 2019). Yet, resiliency policy and disaster response have only recently begun to translate into policy change at the regional level, with ASEAN introducing a new Disaster Management Framework in 2020. The purpose of this framework is to build collaborative resilience in the region, and it presents an opportunity to align disaster governance with regional security governance. This nexus has become increasingly relevant as global warming increases the severity and frequency of disasters, potentially leading to new security risks. However, the relationship between disasters and security remains surprisingly understudied, particularly in Southeast Asia, and is often lacking gender-based analysis as a core component. Thus, this paper asks how can ASEAN effectively align disaster with security governance and include gender-based analysis to decrease risks and promote opportunities for peace? It argues that ASEAN has a vested interest in expanding its role in disaster governance and that if done effectively and with gender-based analysis, this can greatly enhance and strengthen regional security and stability. To demonstrate this, I use an intersectional lens of analysis and a mix of secondary data from the literature on peace, disasters, and conflict. I undertake a review of ASEAN’s security and disaster policies, outlining possible areas of further collaboration. This paper aims to improve our understanding of how disaster and security governance can be combined to provide opportunities for peace in relation to the incipient Women, Peace, and Security agenda in Southeast Asia.

Multiple Meanings and Practices of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in the Asia‐ Pacific: A Multi‐Scalar Regional Analysis

Sarah Sharma, Queen's University; Jennifer Mustapha, Huron University College at Western; Stéphanie Martel, Queen's University

Although the UN’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda is now over 20 years old, it has only recently gained traction in the more formal national and regional workings of the Asia-Pacific. States in the region have started to articulate official WPS national action plans (NAPs). Regional institutions are beginning to adopt joint statements on the WPS agenda, signalling an emerging regional view. Multi-track diplomacy networks are increasingly investing in WPS-focused regional security dialogue. As a result, new opportunities for actors of Asia-Pacific security governance are arising, for both engagement and contestation, around the WPS agenda. This paper explores the emergence of a regional, multi-scalar field of multiple meanings and practices relating to WPS. It analyses how dynamics of diffusion, localization, and resistance unfold in various regional spaces of conversation as they pertain to the WPS agenda. The paper argues that new areas of ambiguity, friction, and tension are emerging as competing meanings of the intersection between gender and security are developed, negotiated, and opposed at the regional and national levels, but also outside the state.

Red Weddings in The Khmer Rouge: Conceptualizing Conflict‐Related Forced Marriages

Zhi Ming Sim, Politics, York University

Examining the newly concluded and released Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of

Cambodia (ECCC) documentation and testimonies (dating 2009–19) of Case 002/02, this paper argues that “red weddings,” or conflict-related forced marriage enforced during the Khmer Rouge, were employed to reconstruct a new political order under the Khmer Rouge regime for a total collectivization of the economy. I liken the implementation of forced marriages to a Homo Sacerliked project where it is a practice, a mechanism, and a tool in reorganizing social relations of power. It works to render the family institution secondary to the Party by abolishing and recoding social and political ties and relations built through the family institutions from the previous Sihanouk regime. Concurrently, forced marriages are also opportunistic rites for the leadership to bolster its political legitimacy through its claims as both parent and a divine being. Under the imposition of forced marriage, Cambodians are rendered “rightless” subjects to be mobilized in building a total socialist utopia.

This paper is significant in entrenching forced marriages into the conditions of interstate conflict, addressing the Khmer Rouge’s implementation of forced marriage as a form of social reproduction of its sovereign power. Finally, this paper challenges dominant feminist renditions that forced marriage, as a conflict-related gender-based violence is a “weapon of war.” Rather, I show that forced marriage practices restructure governmentality with deeper roots in patriarchal relations than just a weapon of war and points to the morbid forms of masculinity that socialist or capitalist sovereignties are inscribed.

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