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Equity and Justice

Active research projects linked to this research axis include:
femSTEP
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Research Axis: Equity and Justice

At the 1995 Conference on Women in Beijing, there was a strong desire expressed among gender advocates to examine how far gender equality had progressed. A recent review from the United Nations, titled Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (2005) unfortunately offers few ready or clear answers. While women have achieved some gains, gender inequalities endure. The Institute’s research axis on equity and justice seeks to examine gendered injustices within three primary areas:

  1. Gendered and Sexual Rights
  2. The Economy, Employment and Labor and
  3. Citizenship and Activism.

McGill researchers based in an array of schools and faculties including, Arts, Management, Law, and Social Work are working to understand and address the various manifestations of gendered injustice. Current projects include examining how women are more or less vulnerable to violence due to their social location, how East European women have coped economically with the transition from communism, how women’s social networks constitute a political resource, and how Ghanaian women have participated in the democratization of their country – to identify just a small sampling. The gender and justice axis enables researchers from diverse theoretical and methodological inclinations to converge around this shared interest.

Topics for Working Groups

Gendered and Sexual Rights: The nature of gendered and sexual rights is configured in historical, social, and political contexts and consequently vary across the globe. The aim of these rights is to protect individuals from bodily harm due to their gender, sex, or sexuality. The spectrum of research at McGill runs from abuses and atrocities suffered during civil conflict to intimate-partner violence in places as far-reaching as Sierra Leone and as immediate as Montreal. In addressing rights through this broad and layered spectrum, scholars from multiple disciplines such as law and social work, engaging questions of policy and practice, come together and complement each other’s work in tackling this pressing matter.

The Economy, Employment and Labor: Historically and contemporarily a complex array of forces – cultural, ideological, legal, and political – shape individual’s economic prospects across the globe in ways that yield both inter-gender and intra-gender inequalities. For instance, in Eastern Europe, the transition from communism to capitalism, in some countries, resulted in greater economic hardship for men than women. Meanwhile, the incorporation and advancement of middle-class women in the labor market in North America has fostered an international division of reproductive labor as they increasingly turn their domestic work over to female migrant domestic workers. This sub-theme brings together qualitative and quantitative methodologies to explore the varying origins and workings of labor’s gendering, and its implications for social equality across time and space. Researchers in this realm come from a diverse range of fields such as Islamic Studies, History, Law, Management, and Sociology, enabling a dynamic cross-fertilization of thinking about the economy, employment and labor through the lens of gender.

Citizenship and Activism: This sub-theme brings the political engagement of women and others marginalized on the basis of their gender, sex or sexuality, formally and informally, globally and locally, to the fore. For example, some McGill faculty are investigating women’s leadership in formal politics in North America. Others look back, researching the history of Hungarian women’s political participation. A number of other faculty members’ attentions are directed at exploring collective action organized around gender/women’s issues or identity. Their work considers a variety of facets around such modes of insurgency including their emergence, recruitment, mobilization, and outcomes. This social movement scholarship extends from more historically-based inquiries in, for instance, the insurgency of Lebanese women during the French colonial period to those that are more contemporary in nature such as the women’s movement in Montreal.

Faculty who have confirmed interest in joining this axis:

Malek Abisaab (History)
Nancy Adler (Management)
Bev Baines (Head, Women's Studies, Law, Queen's University)
Adelle Blackett (Law)
Lisa Bornstein (Urban Planning)
Laurel Bossen (Anthropology)
Kimberley Ruth Brooks (Law)
Mary Dean Lee (Management)
Myriam Denov (Social Work)
Kathleen Fallon (Sociology)
Myriam Gervais (IGSF)
Elisabeth Gidengil (Political Science)
Robert Leckey (Law)
Claudia Mitchell (Education)
Suzanne Morton (History)
Chantal Nadeau (Gender and Women's Studies, U of Illinois)
Barbara Nichols (Social Work [Retired])
Natalie Oswin (Geography)
Carrie Rentschler (Art History and Communication Studies)
Geneviève Saumier (Law)
Colleen Sheppard (Law)
Dietlind Stolle (Political Science)
Suzanne Staggenborg (Sociology)
Narendra Subramanian (Political Science)
Judith Szapor (History)
Sarah Turner (Geography)
Elaine Weiner (Sociology)