Panel 3E

Perspectives on Gender in Displacement and Resistance

16.15 – 18.15
Chair: Aneta Tyc, University of Lodz

Symbolic Representation: Hamas’ Female Candidates of the 2006 Legislative Election

Erin Tumulty, Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Hamas as a prescribed terrorist organisation sent shockwaves into the international community when they were democratically elected in the 2006 legislative election. However, the role in which Palestinian women played to secure this success, as elected officials, has been overshadowed in both election coverage and academia. This paper utilises the framework of Pitkin’s (1967) theory of Symbolic Representation and applies it specifically to Hamas’ female candidates. This paper explores the candidate selection processes of Hamas in relation to their female candidates. It looks at the symbolic characteristics of the democratically elected women to understand the mass voter support among Palestinian women for these candidates who had no political experience prior. The paper will refer to the mass grassroots networks the elected female candidates had established through charity, mosque education programmes and women’s groups. The paper will explore these women’s religious legitimacy through their observance to an Islamic dress code, roles as wives and mothers, along with support for women, through an Islamic framework, suffering from domestic violence, divorce, and cultural sigma’s. The paper will refer to in-depth interviews and focus groups with members of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian female voters and Palestinian women’s centres located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to determine Hamas’ female candidates Symbolic Representation. The paper will conclude by determining if Symbolic Representation was the key factor determining the success of Hamas’ female candidates in the 2006 legislative election and how this can shape our understanding of female political representation, Islamic political parties and their success in recent years.

Researching the Gendered Dimensions of Forced Displacement in Jordan: Challenging Current Practice

Michelle Lokot, School of Oriental & African Studies

While humanitarian agencies now better recognise the influence of gender norms on forced displacement, research in this field is still handled problematically, resulting in assumptions about the complex lives of refugees. Based on over eight years of work in humanitarian agencies and ongoing doctoral research among Syrian refugees living in urban areas of Jordan, the proposed paper challenges current humanitarian refugee research on gender-related issues. Research conducted by humanitarian agencies is often grounded in simplistic assumptions about changes in gender norms during displacement, perpetuating stereotypes about the ‘traditional’ role of women, or about men’s lack of work during displacement resulting in gender-based violence. The experiences of Syrian refugees living in urban areas of Amman, Zarqa and Irbid disrupt these singular narratives and provide a more nuanced picture of gender roles, shifting the discussion away from ‘change’ (which is complex and at times contradictory), towards a broader, historical perspective of gender roles among Syrians. Drawing on participatory, feminist methodologies including photography and life stories, this paper highlights the strategies Syrian refugees use to manoeuvre around gender norms. It points to the importance of ‘work’ not just for male refugees, but women as well, and moves the focus away from the preoccupation humanitarian agencies have with the husband-wife relationship, towards the way gender norms play out within other familial and non-familial relationships. This research provides an opportunity to understand social dynamics among Syrians living outside of camps, including their experiences of (im)mobility in Jordan.

Human Labour Rights of Migrant Domestic Workers: The Need for a Better Protection

Aneta Tyc, University of Lodz

According to ILO, migrant domestic workers are estimated at approximately 11.5 million persons worldwide, and “women comprise the majority of domestic workers, accounting for 80 per cent of all workers in the sector globally”. European women are being replaced in their cleaning, caring and cooking tasks by immigrant women, among others from the Middle East and North Africa. The paper focuses on human labour rights of domestic migrant workers, especially from the point of view of the typology which divides international standards concerning labour as a matter of human rights into four groups: rights relating to employment (eg. the prohibition of slavery and forced labour); rights deriving from employment (eg. the right to social security, the right to just and favourable conditions of work); rights concerning equal treatment and non-discrimination, and instrumental rights (eg. the right to organise, the right to strike). There is evidence (eg. provided by recent high-profile UK court cases) of migrants being kept “like slaves” in their employers’ homes. It constitutes a proof of the existence of forced labour experiences among migrants. Abusive working conditions are being qualified as “modern slavery”. Female migrant domestic workers very often suffer discrimination and exploitation. For that reason, the aim of this paper is to reveal insufficient effectiveness of human labour rights according to the above-mentioned typology. Therefore, the author will concentrate, among others, on the issues of modern slavery, hyper-precarity and discrimination.

From Hell to Hull: Images and Voices of Women of the Iraqi Diaspora in the United Kingdom

Farah Ali, University of Leeds

In this article I examine how immigrant Iraqi women navigate British society in Kingston upon Hull and the implications for both the host society and migrants. I investigate the formation of the diasporic community to measure the impact of this cultural resettlement and the redefining of social values. Besides being subjected to constraints based on their ethnic origins as Middle Easterners, the women also faced discrimination because of their mode of dress. Therefore, they mobilised other intersecting aspects of their identities to manipulate ethnic classification in the hope of differentiating themselves from others using the strategy of othering to attain acknowledgement from British society. The questions are: what part of their traditions are they still holding on to, and what have they changed to adapt to their new ‘homes’? Do they consider Britain as their permanent home? And what are their strategies of othering? By examining a small slice of the Iraqi community in Hull, I attempt to conceptualise the identities of these women in terms of their relationships and the reality of their presence in Hull.

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Female Fighters in IS and al-Qaeda in Iraq: A Comparative Analysis

Jennifer Philippa Eggert, University of Warwick

Women in the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) have garnered a considerable amount of media attention since the group emerged in the Middle East in early 2014. Despite misleading headlines which often call these women ‘female jihadists’ or ‘jihadi fighters’, most of the women who went to join IS did not actually get involved in combat. Instead, they but mostly assumed domestic roles. However, in early 2016, first reports of women’s involvement as fighters were confirmed. How can this shift in women’s roles be explained? Examining individual motivations, organisational characteristics, societal factors as well as the security context, this paper compares the roles of women in IS with their roles in one of IS’s predecessors, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It explains why and how women got increasingly involved in both organisations, including as fighters.

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