Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 17, July 2008

Women Workers and Traders
and the Globalisation Agenda in the Asian Context

Barbara Hartley

    The imperatives of feminist research
  1. This is a particularly important issue of Intersections because the women's narratives and associated research outcomes presented here cut to the heart of why feminist theories continue to have relevance in today's early twentieth-first century global society. The articles featured concern the lived experiences of a diverse array of women traders who come from sites as far afield as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, south China, north China, Korea and Japan. Thus the issue provides the opportunity to consider similarities and differences that prevail in the lives of a selection of women in locations stretching from the Indian subcontinent, through the arc of the south-east, and on to north and north-east Asia. Scrutiny of the articles included in this special issue indicates that, while there are vastly different cultural and social specificities in the experiences of the women presented, there is also an identifiable pattern of similarities.
  2. This is in no way an argument in favour of some essentialist category to whom we might attribute the universal label, 'woman.' The shortcomings of that idea have been comprehensively discussed and dismantled in a number of now classic studies which include Elizabeth V. Spelman's Inessential Woman[1] and Elizabeth Grosz's discussion on the implausibility of the label 'women's writing.'[2] Uma Narayan's 1998 article, entitled 'Essence of culture and a sense of history: feminist critique of cultural essentialism,'[3] was one of a number of discussions which expanded Spelman's position to critique the tendency of some feminist activity itself to essentialise women's cultural experiences. However, the emergence of common elements among the profound contrasts of the women's experiences presented in this issue suggests that, in spite of wide differences in each of the societies featured and the need to be cognisant of the internal differences that distinguish groups of women from the same location, there are pervasive social and cultural similarities operating on the activities of women across sites. To some extent, these similarities manifest themselves in the form of similar gender discourses, that is, stipulations about the limits of what women are 'legitimately' able to do and what social resources they are entitled to. However, what is even more apparent in a number of the articles that follow is the way in which globalisation and the economic rationalist-driven market-place 'reforms' of recent decades have intersected negatively with whatever local constraints might exist to greatly exacerbate the difficulties experienced by women.
  3. There is no doubt that, almost universally, women have the capacity to seek to empower themselves and to resist, subvert or to modify to their own advantage, the hegemonic discourses constraining them—discourses that depict artificially proscribed and strictly sanctioned behaviours for women as somehow 'natural.' Women use their capacity to trade, in particular, as a means of achieving financial security and investing themselves and their families with dignity and independence. Every woman whose voice is heard in this issue demonstrates courage, skill and initiative. However, as we read their narratives we cannot but conclude that to profile this aspect alone, without also paying due theoretical attention to the constraints which diminish the women's capacity to access fair and equitable outcomes from their trading, is to abrogate the researcher's responsibility.
  4. Since the majority of the women profiled in the articles in this issue tell the story of some aspect of their lives as a trader, a brief definition might be provided of this term. The obvious meaning is to work in some capacity of selling and/or buying, that is, trading, goods. In the planning stages of this special issue, however, a deliberate decision was made to interpret the word 'trader' in the broadest possible terms. In other words, in addition to accepting contributions concerning women active in a commercial or financial context, it was decided to include material relating to women's experiences as providers and negotiators of demanding and often unpaid services, including child care, domestic duties and psychological support. In the final instance it emerged that most of the women featured in the articles that follow engage literally in some form of commodity exchange. This is a process which, in many cases, is necessary for the survival of themselves and their families.
  5. However, in addition to undertaking often arduous and poorly paid work as traders of goods, services or labour, either inside or outside the home, the majority of women featured in this issue are also required to undertake the burdensome unpaid domestic responsibilities referred to above. In other words, they are caught in the double bind of public and private labour carried by many women from all works of life around the globe. It is further evident from a number of the narratives given here that, for many women traders, support of self and family is becoming increasing difficult and that, in spite of an ever-increasing work load, remuneration, often in very limited form, is diminishing. In order to understand this trend we might consider observations made recently by a number of commentators regarding the current state of the global economy, that is, the background against which the women's experiences related in the majority of the articles featured here are played out. The spread of globalisation means that the researcher must now look well beyond the local context when considering the work experiences of either women or men. Therefore, it is useful to keep in mind the more general comments that follow when reading the specific experiences of the women considered here.

    Global agendas and trading women
  6. Writing in The Guardian on 28 August 2007, with reference among other things to the sub-prime loan crisis, George Monbiot argued that the 'catastrophic effects' being experienced around the world at that time resulted from the fact that a 'cabal of [neoliberal] intellectuals and elitists' had 'hijacked' the post-war economic debate in order to achieve 'the restoration of the power of the elite.' Monbiot uses the word 'hijack' literally, noting that in the first fully-blown neoliberal project implemented in Chile following the US backed coup that bought General Augusto Pinochet to power, 'if you disagreed you got shot.' Since they 'possess[ed] an unceasing fountain of money,' neoliberals were able to establish think tanks all over the world which demanded 'huge cuts in public service, smashing of the unions [and] public subsidies for business.' These strategies were presented as incontrovertibly correct and enthusiastically implemented by successive administrations in the western world. Although Monbiot mentions the Clinton, Blair and Brown administrations, Rekha Pande's discussion of women working in the bangle making and incense stick production trades in the Old City of Hyderabad makes it clear that the neoliberal agenda also penetrated Asian economies. One outcome, in the West at least, of this monetary wealth-focussed, 'user-pays' approach, which totally discounts capacity to pay, has been that, even among 'progressives,' terms like 'wealth creator' (just whose wealth is created?) and 'benefits cheat' (how can a barely subsidence income ever be called a benefit?) have, according to Monbiot, become so commonplace that they now seem almost neutral.'[4] This impression of neutrality has been conveyed in a very successful manner by a press which, rather than being merely compliant with the neoliberal agenda, has, in fact, in key instances acted as primum mobile.
  7. Monbiot's 2007 observations preceded but in many ways foreshadowed the 2008 food crisis. Concerning this crisis, comments regarding the influence of globalisation by United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Zeigler, were even blunter. As reported on the 20 April 2008, Australian Broadcasting Corporation website, Zeigler observed that rises in global food prices were a form of 'silent mass murder.' Globalisation, he continued, had 'monopolised the riches of the earth;' multinationals were responsible for a type of 'structural violence.' Zeigler furthermore argued that 'we have a herd of market traders, speculators and financial bandits who have turned wild and constructed a world of inequality and horror.'[5] I read this as I finalised the editing of several articles featured in this issue, including Rekhe Pande's discussion referred to above. When noting the incursion of economic rationalist ideas into the Indian economy, including the withdrawal of state-sponsored support for those with limited access to social resources, such as impoverished women, Pande posed the following 'disturbing question:' under these circumstances, 'who is responsible for helping the poor and underprivileged?' This question transcends the specifics of the women in Pande's study and is relevant for many of the women, and the men in their communities, whose life stories are presented here. In fact, I regard it as the focus question of this issue.
  8. That many of the world's poor are women is an irrefutable statistical reality. In her commentary on 2008 International Women's Day, Emily Maguire noted that, globally, 70 percent of all people living in poverty are women and that 80 percent of those trafficked into slavery, including sex slavery, each year are also women.[6] These figures demonstrate the pressing need for a continued commitment to feminist theory and practice. The neoliberal agenda, of course, decries feminist thinking and declares that feminism is no longer necessary. In the light of Monbiot's comments given above we might conclude that this myth circulates rampantly because of a press determined to inculcate such thinking among a reading and viewing public largely denied access to the popular discussion of an alternate point of view. However, when we consider the figures given by Maguire, we can only conclude the serious misrepresentation of claims, sometimes made by prominent women themselves, of feminist obsolescence. This point also becomes apparent when we read the contributions to this issue.
  9. Concerning the ever greater, rather than diminishing, need for a feminist approach to social issues, Dutch/Australian scholar, Rosie Braidotti is adamant. Braidotti notes the emergence of 'new master narratives'[7] according to which difference, including gender difference, has been appropriated by neo-liberals and related groups 'as the prologue to structural patterns of mutual exclusion at the national, regional, provincial or even more local level.'[8] In today's post-industrial society, she argues, vested interests seek to 'proliferate' difference in a way that will 'ensure maximum profit.'[9] Braidotti argues that the 'human bodies caught in the spinning machine of multiple difference at the end of postmodernity'[10] are regarded by neo-liberals and their allies as 'disposable commodities to be vampirised.'[11] Reaffirming, however, the notion of sexual difference as a 'signifier of multiple and complex differences not only among women, but also within each single woman,'[12] she concludes that all is not entirely pessimistic. For these same bodies are also 'decisive agents for political and ethical transformation.'[13]

    'Robust hope' and dismantling constraints
  10. How might this political and ethical transformation be brought about? Sydney teacher educators Christine Woodrow, Wayne Sawyer, Michael Singh, Toni Downes, Christine Johnston and Diana Whitton have posited the notion of 'robust hope.' This is a process whereby democratic processes and principles which emphasise equality and create spaces for all groups and individuals to access social resources are used to guide, among other things, research practice.[14] It is important that, in spite of developments over recent decades that seek to erode this right, we keep the imperative to seek equality in mind when considering the circumstances of the women whose stories are heard here. In the context of educational practice, Woodrow et al cite David Halpin's argument that researchers have a responsibility to maintain a theoretical focus on identifying and critiquing those factors which 'structurally inhibit reform.'[15] The application of the notion of 'robust hope' to the circumstances of women traders, whose incomes are increasingly diminished and work conditions increasingly eroded by the tenets of neo-liberalism, is a more amorphous task and it is therefore more difficult to identify the targets of critique. Nevertheless, an unambiguous rejection of the fallacious 'freedom' of the market in favour of the right to equality for all women and men, traders or not, is surely a primary requirement of feminist research.
  11. In their introduction to the previous issue of Intersections (number 16), editors, Rosemary Roberts and Helen Creese, provided an incisive discussion of the relationship between what they term agency and structure.[16] Here Roberts and Creese note that the lives of women need to be considered in 'relation to the complex matrix of culturally specific social, political, religious, class, gender and other power relationships and structures, within which they [are] positioned.'[17] There is no issue of debate in the assertion that women in all cultures have the infinite capacity to respond creatively and innovatively to their environment, to produce and not merely reproduce, and to construct and reconstruct. However, the social reception of women's pro-activity is not necessarily positive for, as Roberts and Creese observe, 'patriarchal social and cultural structures privilege traits defined as masculine and devalue those defined as feminine.'[18] In my own article in this issue, examining the representation in narrative of a woman from China who trades in Chinese brides for Japanese men, I note how an emphasis on agency can sometimes come at the expense of rendering researchers and writers less sensitive to what Roberts and Creese call 'structure' and what I refer to as 'constraint.' To understand how this structure/constraint operates we might repeat the example given by Roberts and Creese of the fact that 'the "choice" of poor, unskilled women rendered unemployed by China's post-Mao reforms to work in the sex industry might be better understood not so much as agency but structurally created necessity.'[19]
  12. This issue, too, features a number of telling examples of women's agency exercised within the types of structural restraints which leave few viable options. Discussing the choice by women to work as traders in the male-dominated topos of open market places operated on a periodic basis (pola markets) in Sri Lanka, Fazeeha Azmi argues that engaging in this activity 'does not empower women at the societal level.' With respect to the considerable agency shown by women who leave Indonesia to work as domestics in nearby Malaysia, Zakiah Hasan Gaffar demonstrates that these choices are made in the light of very limited wages and sometimes unbearably arduous working conditions in the home site. Although Gaffar does not argue the point overtly, the women in her study, too, are clearly enmeshed in the web of constraints demanded by the advocates of economic rationalism.
  13. We have established the need for feminist researchers to identify, to explain clearly, and to combat theoretically, in the wider context the circumstances in which many women featured in this collection find themselves. However, I would argue that there is also a responsibility on commentators to ally themselves with women in other sites by recognising the considerable gender discourses that impinge in their own environments. For example, the Maguire article cited previously referred to female circumcision as an example of women's position of relative global disadvantage. While this is certainly an issue of concern, the author might have also cited the penchant among the 'liberated' women of industrialised societies for body enhancing plastic surgery. Her selection of examples is reminiscent of the 'wasp-waist lotus-bud' approach of English gentlewomen who campaigned vociferously against the bound feet of women in China.[20] This they did while laced into whale-bone devices designed to force their bodies to comply with male defined notions of, paradoxically, both feminine sexuality and chastity. While cosmetic surgery may be regarded as a choice, it is a choice considered only when body image is required to conform to a norm well beyond the natural shape of women's bodies. Cognisance of the operation of local gender discourses by women in industrialised sites is a prerequisite for creating alliances with women from non-local sites.

    Featured articles
  14. The first contribution to the issue is Rekhe Pande's discussion of women who work in the Old City of Hyderabad, India, in the bangle and agrabatti (incense stick) making trades. The women featured in Pande's article include large numbers of home-based and informal sector workers. Since statistical categories in India have been constructed according to narrow western definitions of paid work, information regarding the activities of these women escapes official data collection processes. Accordingly, one of the principal concerns of the author's research is the invisibility of the work of women in the trades discussed. She points out that since there is no trade union activity in the informal sector, workers are completely vulnerable to the demands of contractors and agents who enjoy unfettered privileges. Earlier analysis of the trading women who appear in Pande's article might have focussed on the gender discourses of Indian society and the writer herself makes clear that these discourses operate to some extent. However, she also discusses how the implementation of the 'growth orientated policies' demanded of the Indian economy by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank resulted in women losing control over traditional occupations and being 'denied...better avenues of employment.' Of particular concern to Pande is the prevalence of child labour in the trades she examined and the urgent need to intervene through, for example, the provision of educational facilities targeting girls working in these trades.[21]
  15. Fazeeha Azmi's paper presents the narratives of a selection of women who trade in the Thambuttegama periodic market (pola), one of a series of outdoor markets operating in Sri Lanka. The writer notes that unlike similar markets in, for example, Africa, periodic markets in Sri Lanka are largely dominated by male traders. Thus women who work in these markets must enter a masculinised environment not conducive to their life experiences. While seeking work as a pola trader can be regarded as an example of women's agency, Azmi notes that, in fact, like the sex workers in China cited above by Creese and Roberts, women are 'compelled to work at pola mainly due to socioeconomic conditions and personal misfortune.' She cites Jayaweera Swarna's observation that although globalisation-driven 'development' in Sri Lanka has increased women's access to paid work, this work is 'largely confined to low-paid, casual and marginal income-earning activities.' Poverty, Azmi argues, makes these women vulnerable to a range of disadvantages 'embedded in the conditions of the social, historical and political environments at both the local and global levels.' Like the women in the majority of the articles featured here, these pola women often carried the burden of caring for family members in addition to participating in paid work, sometimes as the sole earner of family income. Azmi concludes that 'the need to find paid work almost always adds an extra burden to these already marginalised women.'
  16. Zakiah Hasan Gaffar's paper on Indonesian women who migrate to Malaysia as domestic workers explains that much scholarship on women's migration emphasises the economic imperatives involved in movement of this kind. Her paper, while acknowledging economic factors, also seeks to expand existing research into the migration of women workers by examining issues specifically relating to gender. Factors identified by the author as impinging on decisions made by women to leave Indonesia to find work in the more favourable Malaysian economic environment include the impact of early marriage on the education and subsequent employment opportunities of girls and the need to earn a viable income following the death of a husband. The author also demonstrates that even educated women in Indonesia can face difficulty in finding well remunerated work. Gaffar's paper directly addresses the issue of sexual harassment by pointing out that one of the women in her study left a relatively secure position to escape the unwanted advances of her sister's husband. An important outcome of this research is the finding that works against the 'dutiful daughter' assumptions on which much literature on women and migration is based and which takes for granted that mobility decisions are always made with a view to supporting families. In noting that this was often not the case for the women to whom she spoke, Gaffar very correctly observed the need to 'look beyond accepted assumptions when researching women's experiences.'
  17. Ziling Ye's article introduces a historical perspective by discussing the pre-1950 lives of the so-called 'self-combing women' or zishu nü from the Guandong Delta of southern China. These women marked their choice to remain unmarried with a rite in which they combed their own hair into the style of a married woman. While the decision to remain single has been interpreted by some earlier scholars as a subversion of local gender discourses, Ye argues that, in fact, these women should be regarded as 'embodying traditional Chinese mainstream cultural ideals of family behaviour.' Grouping zishu nü with other 'chaste women' who 'served their parents for their entire lives,' the author discusses the valuable contribution these unmarried women made to their families and local communities. Ye also notes that, since they were eldest daughters often from families with limited financial resources, there was an expectation that the women concerned would take partial responsibility for both the family business and household chores. Some were sent away to large cities as domestics to earn incomes which effectively supported their natal families. Notwithstanding the fact that, as the author notes at the outset of her article, the contribution of women in traditional Chinese society was often not valued, a number of these women were regarded with great affection and respect in recognition of their economic input. Ye cites the close relationship between one of the women interviewed in the course of her research and the woman's three unmarried aunts. This woman noted that:

      When I was young I always thought my aunts' lives were wonderful…The best husband could not treat you as well as your brother. My aunts were never forced to do anything, unlike my mother who suffered in the family…[These women] did not lose anything but enjoyed their freedom and others' respect.

  18. Chen Ta-Yuan's discussion of women whose work supported the fishing communities of south west Taiwan also adopts a historical perspective by providing oral histories of the lives of these women between 1945 and 1975. Chen observes that women in Taiwanese fishing communities were given arduous tasks such as net mending and maintenance because of a perception that few men possessed the patience necessary to undertake such detailed work. This claim recalls similar justifications for the gendered division of labour in the case of the bangle makers and incense stick makers in the Old City of Hyderabad. In a pattern repeated throughout this issue, the women of the community researched by Chen were required to do work that required a high level of skills but which paid very low wages. Although poorly remunerated, the work undertaken by the women, including keeping accounts for their husbands, was essential to the effective operation of the community. Chen also notes the irony of the fact that while wives were regarded as the property of men, they were nevertheless required to support themselves and their families during the lengthy absences of their husbands. As the industry expanded, relocation to larger centres disrupted the networks which had sustained these women in smaller communities, where, as Chen points out, women turned to their natal families for support. Some women, unable to cope in the new environment, found themselves battling gambling problems while others, hardly surprisingly, sought companionship in other relationships.
  19. Ayami Noritake's paper uses a theoretical matrix of time, gender and space to explore the lives of women street entrepreneurs in contemporary Seoul, Korea. She discusses how recent development and the domestic promotion of Seoul as a 'world city' has marginalised people engaged in street entrepreneurship, the majority of whom are women. The author is particularly interested in investigating the diverse identities of these women, and how the identities they construct for themselves differ from the dominant images circulating in public discourse. She also provides an incisive discussion of the tensions and contradictions which characterise these women's identities. The spatial focus of Noritake's research is the Tongdaemun Market in Central Seoul and her article opens with a discussion of the post-war history of this site. She argues that the heightening of discrimination against the formal labour force which followed the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis led to an increase in the number of women seeking informal sector employment. She also explains how the limitations of Korea's pension system results in significant numbers of older women seeking to work as street entrepreneurs. Noting that many of these older women migrated to Seoul when young, Noritake confirms Gaffar's findings regarding the movement of women between Indonesia and Malaysia that, while economic factors play a part in migration, mobility is also driven by factors with a clear gender base.
  20. Jill Miller brings us the story of the life of 'the visionary Japanese woman,' Teruko Mizushima, who pioneered the introduction of time banks in post-war Japan. This is a narrative, above all, of the types of innovative social change that women can initiate through contemplating their circumstances as the members of society responsible for the hands-on, face-to-face care of others. Miller's discussion indicates that, while Mizushima had no interest in subverting the conventional monetary economy grounded in profit, she sought to create an alternate, parallel economy grounded in reciprocity. This economy, in which the principal unit of currency was time, permitted women to trade their skills as carers and nurturers through volunteer labour and to bank this labour as credits for times when they might need to seek assistance themselves. When reading this article it is difficult not to deeply lament the lost talent of women in societies dominated by masculinist principles. In spite of Mizushima's considerable public profile and the receipt of a number of public and private awards, her personal contribution and that of her organisation was never seriously regarded as part of the hard core centre of the Japanese political or economic sphere. As late as June 2008, the Japanese government released a white paper calling for the need to 'help women advance into leading roles in society.'[22] Citing a string of statistics indicating the low level of participation by women in various public offices in Japan—only 10.5 of local assembly representatives are women and only 0.9 percent of mayors—the paper calls for the need to 'take advantage of women's will and ability' to help find solutions for the various problems with which regional communities are 'currently saddled.'[23] Miller's account of Mizushima's life raises the question of just how many other talented women have been passed over in Japan, a land where, as Aurelia George Mulgan's 2006 book, Power and Pork,[24] demonstrates, those in public office have a fine tradition of contempt for members of the voting public outside their own self-interested clique.
  21. This special issue concludes with Barbara Hartley's discussion of the literary representation of a woman from Japan who trades in Chinese brides for Japanese men. The phenomenon of bride trading is not confined to Japan. Chen Ta-Yuen's discussion of women and the fishing communities of south west Taiwan noted how, since few young Taiwanese women are interested in marrying a man who will be absent for long periods of time, many of the wives of fishermen today have been 'purchased' from mainland China or countries in South East Asia. The text that Hartley discusses was written in Japanese by a Chinese woman resident in Japan and nominated for a prestigious literary award in early 2008. In addition to analysing sections of the text, Hartley examines a range of more general issues including the need for feminist researchers to acknowledge both the agency of women and the constraints that operate on women's agency. She notes the author's blurring of key binaries, such as the urban/rural divide and Japan/China, in addition to drawing attention to the text's interest in pre-modern knowledge and the manner in which discourses of nation and diaspora are largely exclusive of the lived experiences of women. Hartley concludes by arguing for a need to consider the war-time atrocities committed on the Chinese mainland, particularly as these were perpetrated against women, in any discussion of women from China and men from Japan. It is furthermore clear from Hartley's discussion that the globalising forces referred to in the first half of this introduction are responsible indirectly for the bleak circumstances of the novel's protagonist.

    Concluding comment
  22. Zakiah Husein Gaffar noted that, when she conducted interviews for her research on the migration of women between Indonesia and Malaysia, a number of the women she spoke to were reluctant to acknowledge the value of their experiences. 'Oh…Nothing!' they claimed, when she asked them to explain their particular reasons for leaving their homes. 'There's nothing special about my experiences!' This issue of Intersections devoted to the lives of women traders throughout Asia strongly disputes that modest claim. It is a claim made by many women socially indoctrinated in a manner that renders them unable to ascribe profound motives to their own actions. However, the experiences of the women whose voices are heard in Gaffar's article and, indeed, in each of the articles featured in this issue of Intersections, are special in the extreme. Careful attention to these voices will help feminist scholars to understand the complex social constraints which operate on women in the globalised world. Furthermore, the narratives featured provide researchers with critical data necessary to combat these constraints, which metamorphose repeatedly in a range of forms to impinge upon the agency of women in settings all around the globe. The stories of the women heard here also confirm beyond doubt the extraordinary agency of women, often demonstrated in the face of unjust and unreasonable social demands, and the incalculable value of the highly pro-active contributions made by women from different sites to their various communities.
  23. In conclusion I must express my gratitude to each of the contributors with whom I worked for this issue. Their research has greatly contributed to my own understanding of the diversity of contemporary women and I thank them for this. But even more so I especially would like to acknowledge the work of Carolyn Brewer and the on-going support she has provided through the development of this special issue. While my name might appear as the guest editor, the vast majority of on-the-ground work has been carried out by Brewer, including the editorial responsibility for the papers by Ziling Ye, Chen Ta-Yuen and Ayami Noritake. As many readers will be aware, Carolyn Brewer also undertakes responsibility for the daunting task of the web work for each issue of this e-journal. Her patience has been unfailing and her good humour inspirational. Australian scholarship in the fields of sexuality and gender in Asia and the Pacific, and well beyond, is greatly enriched for the contribution she makes to the publication of research narratives in Intersections.


    [1] Elizabeth V. Spelman, Inessential Woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought, Boston: Beacon Press, 1988.

    [2] Elizabeth Grosz, 'Sexual difference and the problem of essentialism,' in Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies, New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 45–58.

    [3] Uma Narayan, 'Essence of culture and a sense of history: a feminist critique of cultural essentialism,' in Hypatia, vol. 13, no. 2 (Spring 1998):86–106.

    [4] All citations in this paragraph are from George Monbiot, 'How the neoliberals stitched up the wealth of the nations for themselves,' in The Guardian, 28 August, 2007. Available at, accessed 28 May, 2008.

    [5] 'Food price rises are mass murder: UN envoy,' in ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation website, 20 April 2008, online:, accessed 29 May, 2008.

    [6] Emily Maguire, 'Our cause matters to women everywhere,' in ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Commission website, 7 March, 2008, online:, accessed 28 May, 2008.

    [7] Rosi Braidotti, 'The return of the masters' narratives,' in E-Quality, ca 2003, online:, accessed 24 June 2008, p. 1.

    [8] Braidotti 'The return of the masters' narratives' p. 2.

    [9] Braidotti, 'The return of the masters' narrative,' p. 2.

    [10] Braidotti, 'The return of the masters' narrative,' p. 3.

    [11] Braidotti, 'The return of the masters' narratives,' pp. 3–4.

    [12] Braidotti 'The return of the masters' narratives,' p. 9.

    [13] Braidotti, 'The return of the masters' narratives,' p. 4.

    [14] Wayne Sawyer, Michael Singh, Christine Woodrow, Toni Downes, Christine Johnston and Diana Whitton, 'Robust hope and teacher education policy', in Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 35, no. 3 (2007):227–242.

    [15] Woodrow et al., 'Robust hope and teacher education policy,' p. 228. The original reference is D. Halpin, Hope and Education: The Utopian Imagination, London: Routledge Farmer, 2003, p. 20.

    [16] Rosemary Roberts and Helen Creese, 'Gender, text, performance and agency in Asian cultural contexts,' Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, Issue 16, March 2008, online:, accessed 12 May, 2008.

    [17] Roberts and Creese, 'Gender, text, performance and agency in Asian cultural contexts,' para. 7.

    [18] Roberts and Creese, 'Gender, text, performance and agency in Asian cultural contexts,' para. 5.

    [19] Roberts and Creese, 'Gender, text, performance and agency in Asian cultural contexts,' para 6.

    [20] Marni Stanley, 'Wasp waist and lotus buds: the corset looks at footbinding,' in Pacific Encounters: The Production of Self and Others, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997, pp. 79 –94.

    [21] Child labour has been the topic of previous research conducted by Rekha Pande.

    [22] 'A href="">White paper urges greater role for women,' in Japan Times, Saturday 14 June 2008, online:, accessed 15 June 2008.

    [23] There is actually a sense in reports of this paper of the well-known discourse of men in trouble abrogating their responsibility to more hard-working and creative women. For an example of this in Australian politics, we might consider the case of Joan Kirner's being handed the Victorian Premier's position by the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1990 only after the Cain government's administration was in crisis.

    [24] Aurelia George Mulgan, Power and Pork: A Japanese Political Life, Australia; ANU E Press and Asia Pacific Press, 2006.


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