Saturday, June 22, 2013

Celeste Montoya's "From Global to Grassroots"

Celeste Montoya is Assistant Professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, From Global to Grassroots: The European Union, Transnational Advocacy, and Combating Violence against Women, and reported the following:
The central question of From Global to Grassroots is why, despite growing global rhetoric calling for its eradication, violence against women remains so pervasive. The disparities in policy and practice represent an ongoing dilemma in the pursuit of women’s human rights.

From page 99, which falls in the middle of a chapter that gives a historical overview of global and European efforts to address violence against women:
One of the most recent UN efforts to address violence against women comes from Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. Launched in 2008, it is a multiyear program aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. It has five goals for its member states: (1) the adoption and enforcement of national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls; (2) adoption and implementation of multisectoral national action plans; (3) strengthening of data collections; (4) increased public awareness and social mobilization; and (5) addressing sexual violence in conflict. UNiTE is a coordinated effort among a number of UN offices and agencies. It includes a wide range of capacity-building efforts, such as providing resource support to local advocates for drafting policies, operating victim services, initiating public awareness and education campaigns, and training relevant legal and medical personnel. While the efficacy of this effort has yet to be fully assessed, it represents a concerted effort to keep violence against women on the international agenda and to build local capacity, both positive steps.
This paragraph picks up on several important themes in the book. It demonstrates global recognition of violence against women; the importance of not only adoption, but implementation and enforcement of policies; and the need for broad-ranging approaches. Furthermore, it emphasizes building local capacity as a key component to making meaningful reform.

This paragraph is somewhat unreflective of the book in that focuses on the UN instead of the EU. More importantly, this paragraph falls short in that it is only a description of UN rhetoric on the campaign. The rest of the book is committed to very painstakingly deconstructing and evaluating the various strategies undertaken by the EU to address violence against women. The book examines the ways in strategies are enacted and analyzes the real and potential impacts at the national and local level. In this paragraph, we do not know whether the UN campaign is one that is imposed from the top-down by the UN, or whether its construction and implementation has been an interactive process including advocates at the national and local level. One of the important findings of the book is that interactive and inclusive transnational processes are much more effective than top-down coercive methods that tend to be disconnected from the particular needs of local communities. This paragraph also does not speak to how violence against women is understood. Another important finding of the book is that violence against women can be understood in ways that are exclusionary or inclusionary. For example, violence against women in marginalized groups is often either ignored or pathologized. There has been an alarming trend in European anti-violence discourse in which the framings of the issue as widespread and rooted in gender inequality have increasingly been replaced by exclusionary framings that focus on certain “foreign” forms of violence. These framings do little to address the needs of marginalized women, instead exacerbating vulnerabilities rooted in institutionalized xenophobia and racism.

Violence against women is one of the most important societal issues to address and I hope that readers will take the time to learn more about it and strategies aimed at its eradication.
Learn more about From Global to Grassroots at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue