Securing Reproductive Health: A Threat to International Peace and Security?

Image: DFAT Cambodian Midwife Project, Christoffe Gargiulo Flickr [CC]

Event details

IR Seminar

Date & time

Monday 16 September 2019


SDSC Reading Room 3.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU


Associate Professor Sara E. Davies, Griffith University


Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert
+61 2 6125 0919

Audio recording of the seminar

Reproductive health is a threat to the security of women around the world. This seminar offers three arguments as to why reproductive health should be recognised as an international security threat. First, global health security performs a normative function: this should be harnessed to elevate reproductive health as a policy concern. In so doing, the concept of global health security needs to be rethought from its common statist conception. Such an engagement refocuses the nature of threat (state denial of reproductive rights) and referent object (women accessing reproductive health services) in global health security. Second, a security frame directly confronts the security dilemma that underpins current cycles of advancement and backlash on reproductive health issues, specifically with relation to reproductive rights, resistance, and denial. Reproductive health presents a security dilemma for its advocates and users: reproductive health services is vital for women’s mortality and morbidity; yet provision can further threaten the lives of women and the people who advocate for services. Such a dilemma should be recognised and named. Third, reproductive health is a missing pillar of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Ending this oversight is crucial given how reproductive health limits women’s meaningful participation in politics and society.

Sara E. Davies is an Associate Professor at the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Australia. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gender Peace and Security Centre, School of Social Sciences, Monash University.

Sara’s areas of study is the Asia-Pacific, and her research interests are in human rights and global health governance, patterns of systemic sexual and gender-based violence in conflict-affected countries, and responsibility to protect principle. Sara has published in Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, and International Affairs. Sara is author of Continuing Contagion (Johns Hopkins University Press), Global Politics of Health (Polity) and Legitimatizing Rejection: International Refugee Law in Asia (Martinus Nijhoff), and co-author of Disease Diplomacy (Johns Hopkins University Press) with Adam Kamradt-Scott and Simon Rushton. She is co-editor, with Jacqui True, of The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace, and Security (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Please note the paper on which this seminar is based is co-authored with Sophie Harman, Queen Mary University of London.

Updated:  25 September 2022/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team