Accepted paper:

Beyond the revolution question: explaining the adaptation of women's mobilization in El Salvador


Julia Zulver (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper challenges the idea that revolutionary feminism is the best framework with which to explain women's mobilization in El Salvador today.

Paper long abstract:

According to homicide statistics, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. For the most part, however, policy discussions about how women's experiences as citizens are impacted in contemporary violent contexts remain silent. This paper will examine the way that feminist mobilization has developed over time in El Salvador, as well as provide a framework for understanding contemporary mobilization. Most scholars working in the 1990s describe women's organizations in terms of their origins as revolutionary feminist movements. This paper argues, however, that in the contemporary context of high criminal (as opposed to authoritarian) violence, the revolutionary framework falls short in terms of explaining strategies and objectives of mobilization. Today's mobilization centres on the creation of collective identity (manifesting as a variant of insurgent citizenship) that moves beyond the traditional practical vs strategic gender interest binary. Paying particular attention to two recently passed gender laws, the paper will seek to examine the ways in which women's movements have adapted their collective action based on contemporary social and political contexts in order to gain more from social policy. Through engaging with social movement literature, the paper will develop a new framework to explain the adaptation of women's collective action in a context of high violence.

panel P21
Challenging gendered instrumentalism in Latin American social policy?