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Reflecting on our good intentions: a critical discourse analysis of women's health and empowerment discourses in sexual and gender-based violence policies relevant to southern Africa

Breton, Nancy (2022) Reflecting on our good intentions: a critical discourse analysis of women's health and empowerment discourses in sexual and gender-based violence policies relevant to southern Africa. Global Public Health. ISSN 1744-1692

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Identification Number: 10.1080/17441692.2022.2120048

Abstract

Decades of ‘feminist’ sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) policies have produced limited change in southern African SGBV rates. Recent critiques highlight ongoing colonial legacies in such policymaking, arguing that these legacies limit the potential for liberatory change. Further, reflecting on such discourses can highlight reasons behind global public health intervention failure. To promote reflexivity among public health actors who create, reproduce, and implement SGBV policies, this paper presents a critical discourse analysis of how women's empowerment is constructed in foundational global and national health and development policies bearing on SGBV in Zambia. The analysis identifies neoliberal feminist discourses of empowerment: (i) the protection of women, which perpetuates a saviour complex; (ii) the promotion of equality to men, which excludes those deemed unworthy; (iii) the eradication of harmful cultural norms, which challenge the preservation of African values; and (iv) (neoliberal) empowerment through women’s attained employment and capital, which empowers women within unequal economic relations rather than liberating women from those relations. The author critiques such neoliberal empowerment discourses for failing to structurally transform the conditions for women's liberation. This paper offers a first step to the dismantling of colonial structures in SGBV policies by unpacking and promoting reflexivity about such discourses.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2022 13:00
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2022 11:48
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/116406

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