Beyond Liberal vs Liberating

Women’s Economic Empowerment in the United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security Agenda

Authored by: Claire Duncanson

Categories: Statebuilding, The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: Economic Participation, UN Resolutions
Region: No Region
Year: 2018
Citation: Claire Duncanson (2018) Beyond liberal vs liberating: women’s economic empowerment in the United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security agenda, International Feminist Journal of Politics, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1518725

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Executive Summary

This article is about women’s economic empowerment within the United Nations (UN) Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Based on analysis of the core agenda-setting documents, it traces where two different versions of women’s economic empowerment, “liberal” (including women in the formal economy) and “liberating” (women collectively mobilizing to challenge the status quo), appear in the WPS agenda. It argues that the two exist in uneasy tension in the UN’s aspirations for women’s economic security post-war, but that when it comes to actual activities and achievements, the liberal version dominates over the liberating version. The article argues that it is important not to overstate the divide between the two approaches, and that the seeds of a liberating approach can be found within the liberal. It is initiatives to facilitate women’s economic empowerment that contain opportunities for collective action to transform the structures of the economy that WPS advocates should advocate. This would strengthen the WPS agenda and its ability to contribute to security as feminists envisage it, as encompassing freedom from want as well as freedom from fear.