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IR Working Paper 2004/4 (PDF, 225KB)
Nicole George, ‘Advocacy or Activism: Gender Politics in Fiji’, IR Working Paper 2004/4, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Affairs, The Australian National University, October 2004.
This paper asks whether new insights can be gained by differentiating between advocacy and activism when examining the work of civil society organisations in relation to gender equality. The scholarly community and practitioners in the field of development have shown increasing interest in the political activities of non-governmental organisations and civil society more broadly. Until fairly recently, these groups have been characterised as innovative and autonomous agents of reform. While this view has tended to provide a relatively homogenised view of civil society, it has also ignored the extent to which individual organisations within the ‘third sector’ negotiate space within a broader political culture that can at the one time place both opportunities and constraints in their path. This paper is part of a new wave of more critical literature which aims to provide a detailed portrait of this terrain’s complexity. Focusing upon the ways in which women’s organisations in Fiji approach issues of gender equality, I contrast strategies employed in the 1960s and 1970s with those adopted in more recent times and consider the extent to which the prevailing political culture has afforded these groups the space to exercise a critical political voice.