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This article reviews the evolution of women's studies in Korea, focusing on the experience of Ewha Womans University. As part of larger study, its starting point is the late 19th century up to the beginnings of institutionalization of women’s studies in the middle of the 1970s. This review provides a case of how education for girls raised feminist consciousness and gave impetus to women’s movements and a series of social reforms.
The right to vote and stand for parliament has existed since the first Indonesian elections in 1955, but has not resulted in significant numbers of women MPs (members of parliament). This low representation has been challenged by women activists, who have undertaken a long struggle. They were finally able to obtain a 30 percent non-compulsory quota, which was included in the law on general elections (Indonesian Law No. 12 on General Elections, 2003). In the 2004 elections, the success in getting the quota enacted seemed likely to provide momentum for Indonesian women activists to win 30 percent of the parliamentary seats. However, only a small proportion of the seats were won by women in the national, provincial and local parliaments in 2004 (for the 2004-2009 period). Poor participation by women in political parties, which have been dominated by men, and the nature of the electoral system appear to be factors underlying the failure of women in gaining greater representation in the Indonesian parliaments.
The aim of this paper is to discuss some effects of agrarian change on rural women, based on the Malaysian experience. The introduction of modern agriculture has no doubt succeeded in raising productivity and the income of rural women in the country, but inequalities between the poorer and better-off farmers have widened. The process of modernization in agriculture has displaced women to domestic production. Although efforts have been made to improve and increase agricultural production, the role of women as farmers has declined and many factors have contributed to this. Realizing the importance of women's contribution to the economy, the Malaysian government has taken steps to boost the participation of rural women in various development programs and activities. Hence, this paper seeks to address the question: how are rural Malaysian women placed in the context of agrarian change?
In publishing the Asian Journal of Women's Studies we have sought to give visibility to women's studies issues in Asia and to Asian scholarship with a feminist perspective. Issues regarding feminist writing in Asia have received attention over the last 30 years or more, along with the emergence of women's movements and women's studies in different regions of the world. The concern regarding feminist publishing and the challenge the journal has responded to during this time has been virtually ubiquitous in the many different contexts of feminist publishing. This, however, did not mean that women did not write before, but that the earlier environment had not been hospitable to publishing on women's issues. The increase in women's writing has gone hand-in-hand with a change in the social milieu that made it acceptable for women writers to have their work published. In a sense, the publication of the Asian Journal of Women's Studies too has required us to act as gatekeepers of what we understand is appropriate knowledge for dissemination in the sphere of feminist scholarship, more specifically in Asian women's studies. Tied to feminist and academic yardsticks, the AJWS seeks to represent feminist perspectives from Asia or feminist and academic voices from the region or those who speak about the region. More specifically, the range of issues that authors have approached in their contributions in the journal include studies on women's movements, politics, family, sexuality, education, labor issues, violence, the law and more. The backdrop within which a journal such as the AJWS-and the Asian Center for Women's Studies-was set up was the need to create a space within academia for feminist studies on Asia to flourish. The future challenges before the journal relate to the new dynamics in feminism and society, of which we need to keep abreast. Academic journals and other publications that represent the different disciplines, mainstream or otherwise, in the social sciences and the humanities have also accepted the inclusion of studies with gender or feminist perspectives, which in turn may imply a shrinking space for publications that are solely focused on feminist or gender issues.
This paper seeks to examine some aspects of Indian women's roles as they are played out in the public and private spheres of their lives. In the process, it traces the history of reform movements for women in 19th and 20th Century India and identifies the predominant reassertion of caring roles. The engendering of women's caring roles constitutes socialization processes visible in everyday interaction, in media, folklore, and practice that are subsequently examined here. The widespread notion of women working as "supplementary" of secondary income earners in India has been associated with the withdrawal of women from the labor force, whereby the status of the family or community is buttressed. Much of women's work of caring, however, is performed not only in the private household/familial spheres, but also in less visible niches within public arenas, as both agriculture and industries use family and informal labor and thus employ large and increasing numbers of women workers. The important concern that emerges here is on how women can and should derive control over resources and can be empowered. Thus the public-private framework has to be viewed and clearly defined within a particular social context if we seek to meaningfully address these questions about the inter-penetration of public and private spheres in the lives of women. These are politically charged issues are addressed by women's groups and other development initiatives and are relevant not only within public spheres, but also within domestic or private arenas.
Different international legal agreements have been arrived at by nations to deal with the global problem of discrimination against women, the most important of which is the Convention on the Elmination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Women's Convention). This paper discusses the importance of the Optional Protocol to the Women's Convention for Asian women, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999. It provides for an individual complaint procedure against violations of women's rights and allows the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to conduct special investigations into violations of women's rights.
Women's involvement in political activities in Malaysia has become apparent since 1945. While earlier, women's political roles were limited only to campaigning and voting, more recently, it is estimated that less than 5 percent of women are formally involved in politics and compete as candidates for parliamentary and state assembly seats. In the recent election of 1995, women's involvement has been relatively encouraging, as 61 women from various political parties competed as candidates. The numbers still remain quite small, constituting only 4.64 percent of the total number of candidates competing for the total number of 586 seats, both at the parliamentary (192) and state assembly (394) levels. Of the 60 women candidates, 10 were non-bumiputra women. This paper seeks to make a general survey of political participation among the non-bumiputra women. Aspects that are examined here include profiles of these women and the obstacles and challenges they faced while participating in the political sphere. The research reveals that the majority of women who stood for election held important posts, such as president, vice-president, state chairman, or chief of the women's wings of the political parties, prior to becoming candidates. These women also had at least a graduate degree and earlier had professional occupations, such as school and college teaching. Women members of three major parties, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), and Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (GRM), are the main focus of this paper. The women had varied academic and professional backgrounds and some were housewives. The obstacles and challenges they faced in becoming candidates were closely linked to socially given notions about gender. Other significant factors affecting their political participation were religious and family background, education, and experience in the political field.
Women's political participation has been marginal worldwide. In some countries, state-sponsored affirmative action to increase women's representation and participation in the public sphere has been attempted with varied results. This paper traces the history of the debate on such affirmative action for women in India from the early years of this century to the present day through colonial and post-colonial contexts. Women's groups have played a vital role in pressing for or refusing to agree to special measures. The contemporary Indian women's movement (that was resurrected with full force in the 1970s) supports the entry of women in reserved seats in decision-making bodies in order to give them a head start. Although there was little opportunity for this at the local level, legislation to ensure women's entry into one-third seats in state and national bodies has been obstructed. A long struggle lies ahead for Indian women.
In Australia, public policy discourse on rape and sexual assault emerged in the early 1970s. Until recently, however, sexual assault in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, such as the Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) groups, was largely an invisible issue both in government and non-government sectors. Now interest in the sexual assault of NESB women has increased even though NESB women themselves have mostly kept silent about it. This paper explores the category NESB, which is not homogeneous, and asks why interest in sexual assault against its women is increasing in public discourse in Australia, while the women themselves have kept silent or do not want to speak out. Furthermore, this paper investigate discourse about the sexual assault of NESB women, focusing on the reasons and meanings that underlie the women's silence. This paper also examines how the current discourse on sexual assault against NESB women has affected them and, in conclusion, advocates a political strategy for ending their silence.
This paper describes and analyzes a household group religious ritual among the Bohra women of the Ismai `li Shi`i sect of South Asian Muslims. Bohras are a Gujarati speaking, endogamous group involved principally in petty trading. The sect has a well-organized cleric class which oversees the spiritual and often temporal concerns of the sect members. Bohra women engage in a variety of religious gatherings and rituals that often involve the fulfillment or anticipated fulfillment of a vow. A commonly observe ritual, performed in the name of Fatema Zehra-the daughter of the Prophet-and known as Mithi Sitabi, focuses around motherhood and the vows of marriage. This paper highlights the role of this ritual in validating women's traditional roles and women' culture within Bohra society. From the women's point of view, these gatherings serve not only a religious but also an important social function within the community. From the perspective of the cleric class, these rituals establish boundaries for the structure and content of the practice of women's ritual gatherings. As such, they are an instrument by which the community traditions are preserved, community cohesiveness reinforced and a unique Muslim sub-identity maintained. Through an analysis of such religious ceremonies, this paper comments on and draws conclusions about some gender perceptions of religious practices. It discusses the Bohras' unique interpretation of the Sitabi as an example of both the diversity and homogeniety that exists in South Asian Muslim religious life.