Voicing Demands

Feminist Activism in Transitional Contexts

Edited by Sohela Nazneen and Maheen Sultan


An original and unique analysis of feminist activism under oppressive rule
Voicing Demands is a collection of analytical narratives of what has happened to feminist voice, a key pathway to women’s empowerment. These narratives depart from the existing debate on women’s political engagement in formal institutions to examine feminist activism for building and sustaining constituencies through raising, negotiating and legitimizing women’s voice under different contexts.

Bringing together the reflections and experiences of feminist researchers and activists in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, this unique volume explores how various global trends, such as the development of transnational linkages, the rise of conservative forces, the NGOization of feminist movements, and an increase in the power of donors, have created opportunities and challenges for feminist voice and activism.

Author Bio

Sohela Nazneen is a professor of international relations at University of Dhaka and a lead researcher at the BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, Bangladesh.

Maheen Sultan is one of the founders of the Centre for Gender and Social Transformation at the BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, a regional centre on research, teaching and policy related to gender and social transformation. She is a development practitioner with over 25 years’ experience working for NGOs, donors, the UN, Grameen Bank and the Bangladeshi government in a range of capacities, from direct programme management to policy formulation. She co-edited Mapping Women’s Empowerment: Experiences from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (2009).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Voicing Demands: Feminist Activism in Transitional Contexts - Sohela Nazneen and Maheen Sultan
  • 1. Well-Chosen Compromises? Feminists Legitimizing Voice in Bangladesh - Sohela Nazneen and Maheen Sultan
  • 2. Feminisms in Brazil: Voicing and Channelling Women's Diverse Demands - Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg and Ana Alice Alcantara Costa
  • 3. The South African Revolution: Protracted or Postponed? - Gertrude Fester
  • 4. Voicing Autonomy through Citizenship: The Regional Nationality Campaign and Morocco - Alexandra Pittman and Rabéa Naciri
  • 5. Motivated by Dictatorship, Muted by Democracy: Articulating Women's Rights in Pakistan - Afiya Shehrbano Zia
  • 6. Feminist Voices and the Regulation, Islamization and Quango-ization of Women's Activism in Mubarak's Egypt - Mariz Tadros
  • 7. The Many Faces of Feminism: Palestinian Women's Movements Finding a Voice - Elieen Kuttab


'Feminist movements and organizations have been key drivers of progressive change in the global South and are an essential part of any policy or scholarly engagement with development issues. While much of the literature on women's movements focuses on policy impacts, this collection puts feminist activism and voice at its centre. The authors, all with insider experience of Africa, the Middle East or Latin America, provide a rich analysis of the challenges and opportunities that feminists are faced with in today's rapidly changing political environment. This book is a most welcome contribution to the literature on women's movements and must-read for students of politics, feminism and development studies.'
Maxine Molyneux, UCL Institute of the Americas

'Voicing Demands makes an unique contribution to feminist theorizing on development by elucidating the links between voice, feminist activism and transitional contexts. Contributed to by Southern feminist activists and academics and covering a range of transitional countries, it overturns post-Beijing gender and development orthodoxies about "voice" and its assumed positive linear connection to influence and replaces it with a rich heterodoxy of contingent, contextual and often compromised experience of voice in feminist activism.'
Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, co-author of Creating Voice and Carving Space: Redefining Governance from a Gender Perspective

'Political transitions are opportunities for feminists to renegotiate the terms of citizenship. But they have also seen the appearance of newly assertive, even militant patriarchies. This very timely volume of essays by experienced feminist scholar-activists brings authoritative and sobering reflections on the complexities of building authentic feminist constituencies in developing country contexts in which the imperatives of equal rights for previously excluded groups of women can be distorted by a range of transnational forces, whose legal frameworks, financial resources and networks can both legitimate and undermine domestic feminist projects. The impressive achievements and the serious new obstacles faced by women's rights advocates in transitional contexts, and the feminist movement strategies in response, show the fundamentals of an inclusive politics of self-determination in the context of globalization.'
Anne Marie Goetz, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (UN Women)


Publication Date: 16 January 2014
280 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780329673
Hardback: 9781780329680
eBook ePub: 9781780329703
eBook PDF: 9781783609697
eBook Kindle: 9781780329710

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