127.4 Reframing gender class and retirement rights in Vietnam

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:15 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Kristy KELLY , Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY
Some argue that a rights-based approach to development is appropriate in contexts where gender-based discrimination, unequal pay, high levels of violence and continued exclusion from political arenas marginalize women as workers and citizens. However, others suggest that rights-based claims for women may find little resonance in local contexts, and be resisted as a donor-led fad or inappropriate to local contexts. Human rights frames have been found in some cases to depoliticize movement organizing around recognition or redistribution claims to social justice. There is increasing evidence that processes of knowledge production can have a circular effect so that activists engaged in “rights talk” may end up speaking more with each other and neglect the people they claim to represent. Using the case of an unusually public retirement rights debate in Vietnam, this paper considers what happens when women’s rights that are discursively framed in neoliberal human rights terms, enter the public sphere, and come into tension with national ideals that privilege women’s citizenship obligations as necessarily conjoined with their roles as wives and mothers. I specifically employ a political project framework to examine how "women's rights are human rights" frames are engaged, by whom and for what purposes during these debates and to make visible how gender, generation and class intersect and continue to complicate opportunities for transnational feminist organizing around issues of gender equality and work-life policies.