Session 33: Room 11-411
Individual Papers on Gender in Asia

Chair: Keiko Aiba, Meiji Gakuin University

1) Zerina Shabnaz Akkas, University of Tsukuba
Literacy, Women Participation and Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh: A Case Study from Monsurabad Island

REFLECT began as a fusion of the theories of Brazilian Educationist Paulo Freire with the methodology of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and was first applied in pilot project in Bangladesh. The notions of Freire’s dialogical approach are people should participate and raise their voice in a trusting environment and struggle to liberate themselves from all forms of domination. His pedagogy embodies a language of hope and possibility for the potential empowerment of the people. Therefore, the main contribution of this study would be to demonstrate “how participation can become truly transformative in the Bangladesh context”. This paper aims to analyze the participation and empowerment of women in household and community decision-making processes and to critically assess the impact of Freirean dialogical approach on women’s empowerment. So far on one hand it is true that the level of participation in REFLECT program does increase, but on the other hand, women do not appear to be empowered in their family and community relationships. It is found that through participation in the REFLECT program, women achieve literacy, become conscious about their rights, about the negative impact of early marriage and so on. But the study did not find much significant evidence of women's active participation in household and community decision-making processes. Thus, from this study’s point of view, we can not talk about empowerment if the knowledge acquired through the program is not properly apply in daily life.

2) Thomas Barker, National University of Singapore
The Indonesian Film Industry and the East Asian Connection

The idea of a national film industry has loomed large in Indonesian imagination, with strong undercurrents of ethno-nationalism. The ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities play a prominent role in the film industry, but their involvement has been seen as negative, often being derided as economic opportunists and anathema to an imagined 'national industry'. The industry itself has been built by a diverse range of characters, least recognized so far are the transnational connections. This paper will take the example of the Korean-Japanese filmmaker, Hinatsu Heitaro aka Dr Huyung, who came to Indonesia in World War II as part of the Japanese propaganda efforts and stayed on to play an active part in the formation of the industry of an independent Indonesia. Through this rediscovery of this East Asian connection, it is hoped the beginnings of a transnational understanding of the Indonesian film industry can be laid out.

3) Daraka Chhay, University of Tsukuba
Coping with Challenges:  the Quest for Autonomy, Gender Equity and Roles Transformation amongst Women in Rural Cambodia

In Cambodia, the empowerment of women for economic autonomy, gender equality and emergence of women into public spheres, especially the participation in local governance is considered as a challenging issue which underlies the complex interrelation between economic factor, socio-cultural perceptions, and gender-based subordinations. This article aims to examine the challenges to women in struggling for economic autonomy and gender equity, and to observe the economic empowerment benefits on the changing roles of women as they have become involved in local governance and how the situation of women’s engagement in the public sphere is contributing to a change in Cambodia’s traditional gender regimes.  The core questions are why, in the face of remarkable changes of women’s employment and earnings, household works remain women’s works. How and why forms of social practices, ranging from formal policies and procedures to informal patterns of everyday social interactions, produce inequalities while gender awareness is integrated in government policy and several of development programs. The evidence from LWF’s microfinance program operated in Aoral District, Cambodia, indicates that with control over financial resources in households, labor and decision making largely vested into the hands of husbands. Although women’s access to financial services has increased substantially, their ability to benefit from this access is often still limited by the disadvantages they experience because of their gender. Further, the ability of women to move into public domains has been severely restricted by social norms and the prevalence of perceptions and forms of social practices.

4) Micheline Lessard, University of Ottawa
Trafficking in Women and Children between Vietnam and China during the French Colonial Period

In the middle of the nineteenth century, French Catholic missionaries began reporting on the kidnapping of Vietnamese women and children who were later sold on Chinese markets as domestic servants, concubines and prostitutes. The establishment of French rule in Vietnam (1885) did little to put an end to such practices and in fact the trade in Vietnamese women and children actually increased between 1885 to 1935. The scope of the trade was such that some French colonial administrators and consuls referred to it as "epidemic" in proportions. In addition, this illicit trade did much to undermine French authority in the area as colonial administrators seemed powerless to stem the tide of this form of trafficking. Furthermore, the infrastructures set in place by the the French administrators in order to enhance the economic potential of Vietnam actually abetted, albeit unwittingly, the trafficking in Vietnamese women and children.