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IPID Talk: Rachel Garaghty on "Victimization or Empowerment? Portrayals of Women & Their (Un)Intended Consequences in International Development"

The next IPID talk will be on Friday, February 25th at 12:00 noon in Room 70 of the Minnesota Population Center (50 Willey Hall). All are welcome! Click here for a campus map: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/maps/WilleyH/

The topic will be: "IPID Talk: Victimization or Empowerment? Portrayals of Women and Their (Un)Intended Consequences in International Development." Rachel Garaghty from the Humphrey Institute's Masters of Public Policy program will be presenting.

Hello IPIDers,

This February, we get two great IPID talks in one month! Come join us for more stimulating supracurricular discussion! Rachel's talk looks provocative and approaches an important but marginalized area in international development. As the talk will be over the noon hour, feel free to bring lunches and eat neatly.


IPID Talk: Victimization or Empowerment? Portrayals of Women and Their (Un)Intended Consequences in International Development

Portrayals of women with disabilities living in poverty often focus on their status as victims: victims of abuse, neglect, discrimination, scarcity, systems, and circumstances. Often, the goal is to visibilize suffering and injustice they face on a regular basis. The goal of this visibilization, at least from a Western stance, is to bring attention to these women so that their lives can be improved. But are these portrayals themselves victimizing?

This discussion compares portrayals of women with disabilities living in poverty from multiple sources: advocacy organizations, film, scholarly research, and INGO reports. Portrayals from the global south and global north tend to differ in their representation: from the north, Human Rights Watch shows women with disabilities as marginalized and vulnerable; in the south, African filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety makes a young disabled girl the spunky protagonist in a short film about street children. On one hand, these portayals victimize and on the other, they empower.

How the field of international development responds to women with disabilities living in poverty is often based on how it perceives them. What are the larger consequences of these portrayals, and, more broadly, how do representations of the impoverished 'other' shape the activities and outcomes of international development?

Questions for thought:
-What kind of linkages exist between portrayals of victims and models of charity? How do these linkages help or hurt the so-called "victims"?

-What are the implications of combining two historical victim identities - gender (women) and disability? Once a person is perceived as a victim, is there any way out of that categorization?

-Visibilization of "invisible" problems often deliberately seeks to "shock" people into action. This is evident in the tactics of many human rights organizations. But, what is the desired end of visibilization and when does it become sensationalized spectacle? What does it mean for the women in these articles and images to have their vulnerabilities so exposed?

-Portrayals of empowerment are encouraging and uplifting, but do they also have consequences? If so, what?

-There are many associations between disability and poverty, but is the reaction of the international development field to people with disabilities making disability itself a form of poverty? (think about Sen's capability approach and people with disabilities' perceived lack of capabilities)


Human Rights Watch. "As if We Weren't Human: Discrimination and Violence Against Women with Disabilities in Uganda." August 2010. http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/08/24/if-we-weren-t-human
Read the intro, summary and recommendations (also, look at the images throughout the report).

Kiani, S. (2009). Women with disabilities in the North West province of Cameroon: Resilient and deserving of greater attention. Disability & Society , 24 (4), 517-531. Kiani.pdf

Clip (3:47) of "La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun)" film by Djibril Diop Mambety

Critical review - "La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun)" film by Djibril Diop Mambety

Clip (2:38) of "Advocacy (Liberia): Young Voices Campaign"

Browse website: Stars of Hope Palestine (when I just checked the webpage the site was down, but the intro page is worth viewing. Hopefully this is a temporary glitch)

Victimization or Empowerment.doc
Rachel Garaghty
Master of Public Policy Candidate 2011
Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota

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