'Enabling or Disabling Paternalism: (In)Attention to Gender and Women's Knowledge, Capacity and Authority in Humanitarian Contexts'

Paternalism Beyond Borders, ed. Michael N. Barnett. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016

23 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2017

See all articles by Aisling Swaine

Aisling Swaine

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Women, Peace and Security

Date Written: November 01, 2016

Abstract

Through a reflexive approach, this paper recounts an experience of providing relief services to survivors of sexual violence in Darfur, Sudan, and explores whether and how paternalism in humanitarian aid may hold a particular dynamic and consequence for women. The inquiry in the paper is driven by the consideration of how initiatives that are principally framed on a mandate to help and assist, may be perceived or felt as condescending or authoritative by the objects of that assistance. The nexus of gender and paternalism is examined and discussed in relation to three key indicators of paternalism towards women in humanitarianism: paternalism towards women in the fault line between duty, care and control; the failure to consult with women by the patriarchy of protection that deems women to have no knowledge or expertise in dealing with challenges specifically facing them; paternalist responses to women’s needs that are fueled by sexist perceptions that posit women as “lacking capacity,” prompting sexist attitudes to become paternalist actions. By underlining the ways that gender inextricably features in paternalism and paternalist actions, and that both are active in humanitarianism, the paper discusses the challenges for humanitarianism going forward and its need to find ways to operate in ways that reflects its goal of solidarity with, so that value is placed on the knowledge, capacity and ability of its client populations, including overcoming exclusions of women.

Keywords: Darfur, gender, humanitarianism, paternalism, sexual violence, Sudan, women

Suggested Citation

Swaine, Aisling, 'Enabling or Disabling Paternalism: (In)Attention to Gender and Women's Knowledge, Capacity and Authority in Humanitarian Contexts' (November 01, 2016). Paternalism Beyond Borders, ed. Michael N. Barnett. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2978113

Aisling Swaine (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Women, Peace and Security ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
195
Abstract Views
792
Rank
283,274
PlumX Metrics