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A huge security Approach: Towards Human, Gender, and Environmental Security

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A HUGE Security Approach: Towards Human, Gender, and Environmental Security

Úrsula Oswald Spring

1. Introduction

Gender violence is still an invisible aggression that occurs primarily within families. It is often socially accepted and sometimes even promoted. The origins of this subtle and sometimes brutal discrimina­tion are complex, and closely related to the social representations (Moscovici 1976; Herzlich/Graham 1993) of gender construction. This chapter develops a broader security concept of Human, Gender and Environmental Security (HUGE), based on a widened concept of security (Wæver 2008; Brauch 2005, 2005a, 2008). HUGE combines a broad gender concept that includes children, elders, indigenous and other minorities with a human-centred focus on environmental security (ES) challenges, peace-building and gender equity. Gender secu­rity (GS) reflects livelihood, food, health, and public security issues as well as education and cultural diversity.

The most frequent violence is related to gender, nevertheless there are only few theoretical developments on gender security. This chapter asks why this happened. As gender security is related to human and environmental issues aggravated by regressive globalization (Kaldor/Anheier/Glasius 2003) and climate change (IPCC 2007, 2007a), women and children are also highly vulnerable and threatened in multiple ways. As GS has only recently been discussed in the social science literature and in international relations (IR), the analysis focuses first on the de­velopment and limits of this concept that are imposed on gender epistemology by the prevailing patriarchal mindset in science. It then reviews the theoretical elements that are contributing to the evolution of GS (3) within four main fe­mi­nist currents: epistemological feminism, feminist empiricism, postmodernism, and standpoint feminism.

As a historically and socially constructed concept, the author explores four phases of GS studies (4): the analysis of identity and social representation; postmodern feminism and its links it to the gift economy; ecofeminism and the new social movements focusing on peace movements. In the conclusions (5), the HUGE concept discusses gender links with HS and ES in order to stimu­la­te a new economy of solidarity and a democratic, ‘glocal’ and participative model of governance that guarantees for the most vulnerable persons equity, and peace with quality of life and prospects for a future threatened by global environmental changes (GEC).

2. Human, Gender, and Environmental Security: HUGE

From a constructivist approach, the conceptualization of security has evolved focusing on the ­relationship among different security concepts. The ‘Copenhagen school’ systematized the links among several security approaches (Wæver 2000, 2008, 2008a; Buzan/Wæver/de Wilde, 1998). The different security dimensions and levels of analysis are interrelated: often mili­tary security directly affects societal and economic security by causing for individuals and groups a fear for survival. These national security concerns still prevail in almost all countries in the South and in the ‘war on terror’, by defending national borders in a globalized world, the transnational economy and the occidental civilization process. Migration and the cultural homogenization processes resulting from instant communication, fashion, and consumption is contrarily creating also greater diversity and nee cultural interlinks.

Among the extended concepts are societal security (Wæver 2008a), labelled by Møller (2003) as ‘incremental’; HS described as ‘radical’ and ES termed as “ultra-radical” (table 1). Going beyond the tra­ditional realist approach of Wolfers (1962), the security definition of the Copenhagen school distinguished between different referent objects (state, nation, societal groups, individuals, humankind, and ecosystems), depending on the security concern where the values at risk are sovereignty, national unity, survival, and sustainability (Ullman 1983). Asking for se­curity from whom or what, risks from whom and threats from whom and from what, the sources of threat have changed since the late 20th century. This classification has offered a specific heuristic contribution that has inspired subsequent modifications and where gender security was included.

Degree of expansion


(security of




(security of


Value at risk (security of what?)

Sources of

threat (security

from whom and

for what?)

No expansion

National Security (political, military)

The State

Sovereignty, territorial integrity

Other states, terrorism, sub-state actors, guerrilla


Societal Security

Nations, societal groups

National unity and identity

Nations, migrants, alien cultures, mass media


Human Security

Individuals, humankind

Survival, quality of life, livelihood

State, globalization, elites, terrorism


Environmental Security




Nature, global change, global warming,



Gender Security

Gender relations, indigenous,


children, elders

Equity, equality, identity,

solidarity, social representations

Patriarchy, totalitarian institutions (governments, religions, elites), dominant culture, intolerance, violence
Table 91.1: Human, Gender, and Environmental Security (HUGE): A Transradical Approach. Source: Møller, 2003: 279; Oswald Spring, 2001, 2004, 2007.
3. Human Security

Why do more than 24,000 persons, basically children, die each day of hunger, and why only in Sub-Saharan Africa has the number of undernourished children augmented from 29 to 37 million during the last decade? Why do three billion persons lack access to basic sanitation systems? Why did the globalization process and scientific progress create more than 2 billion extremely poor people? Why do 55 million Latin Americans not have enough to eat while living in the most biodiverse region on the planet that provided the world three of the five basic food crops (corn, beans, and potatoes)? How did this situation develop and get worse in different countries of the south? What is happening with China and India and how are the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to processes of development, modernization, efficiency, and justice? Why are 70% of extreme poor people women? The present situation of existing gaps in a world of plenty requires a deeper and wider approach to GS (Bellamy/McDonald 2002), and an epistemological shift from a techno-centric perspective to a holistic approach.

Social inequalities are historically developed and accentuated within developing countries due to the North-South and the internal gaps, creating social vulnerability. It includes unsatisfied human needs and limited access to resources (Melillo/Suárez/Rodríguez 2004), therefore the lack of human security is understood as ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’.

4. Environmental Security

Due to global and climate change, environmental security (Mathews 1989) is not only an issue of scientists (Dalby 2008; Dalby/Brauch/Oswald 2008) but increasingly also of politicians (Stern 2006). Resource depletion (water, land, air, minerals, and fossils) and their pollution are limiting the offer for productive processes and life quality, worsened by higher demand due to population growth, urbanization, more food demand, and the claim of an ongoing process of modernization in developing countries, particularly in China and India (The Economist 2007; IPCCC 2007, 2007a). Disa­sters will further reduce available resources. These factors are pressuring on the demand side, reducing at the same time the supply due to scarce and contaminated resources. Besides oil and gas, water and virtual water (food) is threatening ES. Scarcity alone is not what kills people or causes political violence; nume­rous other factors are important in the destruction of the social networks that ensure survival.

There is no reason to believe that states are necessarily acting in ways that ensure the security of their populations, despite official rhetoric. The critical development literature and discus­sions of political ecology emphasize that state actions in support of development may be a con­tributing fac­tor to the vulnerability of social and ecosystems, which are then incapable of ensuring survival when disaster strikes. Neither are states the innocent arbiters of disputes, nor neces­sarily benign agencies primarily interested in the welfare of their populations; they may be in­volved in the violent sup­pression of resistance to central rule or to the dislocations of eco­nomic globalization and the con­comitant commoditization of items essential for survival. Therefore the shift from the ‘holocene’ to an ‘anthropocene’ (Crutzen/Stoermer 2000) suggests that the link between human and ecological matters must be understood in a way that transcends the divisions between the ‘natural’ and the ‘human’ that have structured the thinking on se­curity and especially identity since the emergence of mo­der­nity.

5. Gender Security

5.1. Gender as Analytical Concept

Several organizations within the United Nations systems that collect data (UNSC Resolution 13251; UNIFEM 2007; FAO 2006) have confirmed that the violence against women and girls is the most frequent form of violence on earth (Riviere/Cominges 2001). Each third woman in the world is being beaten, and each fifth is being sexually harassed or violated (UN 2006). Normally, this violent behaviour happens inside the house; however, in research surveys men who were re­sponsible for committing these crimes claim guilty for men from other cultural backgrounds, different regions, and lower social classes. Most countries in the South still lack laws against this type of violence, and even if they exist, they are not being enforced by male judges due to a patriarchal practice of law and power exercises.

Thus, gender security is normally taken for granted, socially identified, and represented within so­ciety. The world has been orga­ni­zed for at least five thousand years on patriarchal patterns, where the male gender (the strong sex) dominates the female (the weak sex), creating inequity, exclusion, violence, and sub­mission. Female powers were considered marginal and merely delegated. The main control on material goods remains in the hands of men who decide on family expenses, property, productive activities, inheritance, and gifts. The lack of the right to own property has reduced the nego­tiation capacity of women and increased their insecurity.

As the relationship between men and women implies complex interlinks and relates to human and societal security, the threats are not always perceived as purely con­fronta­tional. Nobody is born as a man or woman; everybody is born with a body which acquires a generic significance in this world (De Beauvoir 1949; Lama 2002, 1996). From early childhood on gender is socialized (Lloyd/Du­veen, 1992; Piaget 1950) and consolidated during the personal life history. Family structures, schools, work, and clubs are organized to subsume gender identity into daily life, avoiding that gender discrimination get perceived and combated. Gender is also an analytical tool, socially constructed, and the axis of classification is linked to ge­nital differen­ce (sexual dimorphism: female-male), facts that permits a biological expla­na­tion of social representations of gender, rooting still more the mechanisms of distinction, and with them the process of discrimination. The key role of women is in caring about the well-being of children, family, and animals, and is considered a homo domesticus.

5.2 Gender Security Studies

Nonetheless, violence against women did not lead to a theory on gender security (GS). The UN Security Council referred to it in Resolution UNSC 1325 separately to ‘gender, security, and human rights’. Key elements point to the economic security of women with respect to property rights, education and training, equal access to paid work regardless of ethnic, religious, and caste differences, and the encouragement of small-scale business within local areas (Beijing Conference 1995). In analytical terms and linking up human and ES to GS, this author proposes a transradical level of expansion (table 1). An initial definition of GS refers to the process of socialization to ‘become’ a gendered human being; a man or a woman, depending on the position of the social structure. Thus, GS is socially constructed and systemic within the present patriarchal society, and it is normally taken for granted. The relations are linked to gender status – ethnicity/race, class, age, and minority status – in relation to the model of reference. Equity and identity are values at risk, and the source of threat comes from the patriarchal hierarchical and violent order, characterized by exclusive, dominant, and authoritarian institutions, non-democratic governments, churches, and elites; secondly, from the established and developed social relations of vio­lence and prejudice. They are penetrating the most intimate space of a couple and family, affecting labour relations, political and social contacts, and primarily also the exercise of power where a system of exclusion, discrimination, and stigma dominates, threatening equi­ty and personal or group identities.

5.3 Evolution of Gender Security

GS has a long history and complex analytical processes behind it. The European Union refers to GS as the systematic examination of the differences in “conditions, needs, rates of participation, access to resources and development, management of the patrimony, of the power, of decision and images among women and men relating to their roles assigned in the function to their sex”2. Structural inequity is reduced in some progressive countries through quota systems, which can improve the participation of women, but it still remains discrimi­na­tion, although a positive one with the goal to achieve greater equality. Clear political norms and roles sup­­ported by institutional actions that note existing differences could improve the gender balance, and therefore may reduce gender insecurity and violence.

The historical evolution of feminist thinking and the diverse practices had a strong influence on the deconstruction of the GS concept. Feminist studies have evolved through several phases: from theoretical feminism to the desire for female voting and greater equality. The relation between GS and HS started with the debacle of five decades of failed and misguided development, directly linked to the omission of gender considerations. The exclusion of women and other minorities from science, tech­nology, history, and public life have implied and continue to cause enormous costs for the poli­tical process, the eco­no­my and the environment, for peace-building, and culture of the world.

The patriarchal system constituted the base of gender insecurity. It is characterized by male dominated extended households, patrilineal inheritance and patrilocal housing for married women (the Roman pater familiae). Community owned property became private property, and a system of norms was created that obliged society to legally consolidate the changes in the context of the pax romana (Oswald 2008). Male kings or leaders strengthened their power due to conquests of new territories; they developed better weapons and armies, and made slaves out of the conquered people, and exploited nature. The leading elite established mo­nar­chies of absolute power ruling their land, commodities, resources, and subjects. With supernatural forces or as divine deputies of god on earth (pope, prophet) they consolidated empires. Military control stabilized their empires externally and internally and social unrest obliged them to legitimize elite’s hegemony (Gramsci 1977). Later, democratic institutions and a division of power consolidated economic and poli­tical power and a system of rule justified the legal use of physical force in the hand of the state (Max Weber 1987). This summarized process of the rise of patriarchy was further consolidated by the three mono­theistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The belief in one father god and the only truth relied on male priests, representatives of god on Earth.

Thus ‘gender insecurity’ is a historical process whose root causes is do­minance, oppression, violence, and invisibility. Only one part of society dominates and exploits the other part. Hierarchical orders and repressive mechanisms maintain control, and mass media, ideology and religion the hegemony. They create social representations and identity processes to maintain the status quo. Therefore, only the overcoming of patriarchy related to other syste­mic factors of control and violence could overthrow the present unjust sy­stem of global society and liberate every­body, men and women. Existing social representations also excluded women from science and technology. By decon­struc­ting assigned social roles and patriarchal thinking several schools of feministic epistemologies were developing.

6. Scientific Currents in Feminism

Feminist epistemologies have analysed the ways in which metaphors of mas­culinity operate in the construc­tion of ideals of rationality and objectivity (Bordo 1990; Lloyd/Duveen 1992; Longino 1990, 1993, 2001). Sandra Harding (1986, 1988, 1991; Harding/Hintikka 1991) argued that dualism such as na­ture-cul­ture, subject-object, and masculine-feminine supports modern epistemological ana­lyses, and that femi­nist epistemology should deconstruct this dualism (Stuart 1990). Scien­tific theories contain also a gender bias, not only due to the under-­representation of women, but also in the construction of objectivity and underlying values. Therefore, a GS approach proposes the incorporation of explicit gender-related values, represented by the selection and delimitation of the object of study, the empirical work, the justification, the methodology, and a theory-building with ethics. Therefore, the analysis on GS must critically understand the diversity and values in a so-called rigorous or objective scientific analysis. It scrutinizes especially the narrow concept of military security, the related military complex, and its economic interests (Valenzuela 1991).

Feminist empiricism criticizes the ‘androgenic’ mainstreaming in science, where the stereotypical masculine mental approach excludes emotions. Objectivity in scien­tific knowledge also in physics and biology (Harding 1986, 1988, 1991) has gender biases (selection, objectives, methods), and methodologies have themselves male-centred limits (Harding/Hintikka 1991). GS studies promote a shift and ask for cognitive ‘equality’ or ‘sameness’ with the patriarchal thinking. Therefore, the approach of GS shifts from opposition to collaboration. It creates a common front of the multi­disciplinary and process thinking that allows dealing with the pre­sent threats and the coming challenges of climate change, which will affect both genders and the planet as a whole (Haraway 1988, 1997).

Postmodern perspectives (Butler 1990; Alcoff 1996; Alcoff/Potter 1993; Nicholson 1990; Persram 1994) have established radical critiques by rejecting any gender category, due to the fact that every individual is unique. They also oppose possible coa­litions between women and other suppressed groups, because most of them would repeat the patriarchal conduct within these groups. For the GS analysis, their cri­tiques of theories justifying sexist practices, where women are treated in an essentialist sense or as objects, are useful. These currents avoid in GS studies a bias of androcentrism, super-generalization or super-speciali­zation, insensibility to gender analyses and issues, the normal elimination of sex and sexua­lity, double evaluation stan­dards and payment for men and women in scientific achievements, sexist dichotomies, and a formalism limiting the unity of analysis (Bartra 1998). However, a postmodern approach limits also the deepening of GS, due to its influence by individualistic occidental thinking.

The standpoint feminism was initially developed in the social sciences (Hartsock 1983, 1983a, 1988, 1993; Harding 1988; Chodorow 1978; Collins/Pinch 1998; Smith1974). Women and other oppressed groups are better trained and sensitive to deconstruct the mechanisms of exclusion, domina­tion, violence, and submission. With these epistemic privileges they can deepen their analy­sis and better un­derstand discrimination. Their analysis does not glorify women in research nor does introduce gender issues in a collateral way into international studies, but promotes a trans­versal and gender-clear approach, where both quantitative and qualitative methods should understand the processes of identity formation and consolidation of stereotypes, thus generating, repro­ducing, and anchoring the present situation of inequity. A GS approach observes that there could be no single standpoint, since women and marginal groups are differently situated within diverse social positions, cultural backgrounds, socio-economic conditions, race, class, ethnic group (Warren 1998), sexual orientation and geographic location, and that it is precisely this diversity which can enrich their analyses.

Such an advance permits to situate knowledge socially by anchoring it in local interests and values. When oriented to a liberation perspective, the disadvantageous situation induces learning processes that are able to free them from their situation of oppression (Freire’s liberation methodology 1998). In relation to GS studies, a clear distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification would avoid confusions. Harding insists further that modern science is “deeply and completely constituted” by “local resour­ces” (Harding 1986: 157) and bottom-up processes. This approach offers not only a theoretical and empirical link to HS, but includes also ES concerns when resource appropriation and distribution and social vulnerability as result of disasters are incorporated.

7. Four Phases of Gender Security Studies

By linking logically and empirically human and environmental security with gender security, the con­struction and visibilization of the invisible, of the repro­duction of injustices, and of the production and ideo­lo­gical circulation process can be understood. Four phases can be included in the consolidation of ‘GS’: first, the process of identity building and social representation; second, the gift economy; third, the evolution of ecofeminism; and fourth, the emergence of social movements.

7.1 Gender Identity and Social Representations

‘GS’ has gender relations (men and women) as its object of reference, and the values at risks are precisely identity and social representations (table 1). Thousands of years of experiences have permitted to consolidate a system of so­cial representations that has been able to control all elements in the specific socio-historic context of a society. Symbolic elements of identity were developed – such as class, ethnicity, age, religion, race, nationality, professional ascrip­tion, political ideology, education, and others – which are in permanent change, reflecting a large diversity and capacity for adaptation, while conserving the outstanding historic attributes (gender, sex, and race) and the material conditions of late capitalism: poor and rich (Giménez 1999, Habermas 1995, 2000). Gender identity refers to the process of socialization to ‘become’ a gendered human being: man or woman, depending on the position in the social structure. Sociology defines gender identity as “a social construct regarding culture-bound conventions, roles and behaviours for, as well as relation­ships between and among, women and men and boys and girls” (Krie­ger 2001: 693-700). The formation of gen­der identity is a complex procedure that includes processes of gestation since birth, of learning during the first infancy, and later the socialization and acquiring of social roles. Identity generates roles within society where a systematic process of identification establishes the differences between status, needs, positions, and privileges of each gender. These roles have two explanations: they articulate the totality of ways through which oneself expresses gender identity, and secondly, it defines the roles in relation to the type of activities that a society determines as adequate for a person with specific gender identity. The result of this long-standing gender discrimination has produced historical inequality and inequity, exclusion and discrimination. They are highly exposed in daily life to gender-related violence, and their labour inside the house and in childrearing is not considered productive with economic dependency from men.

Moscovici understands social representations as a systems of ideas, values, and practices ful­filling a dual function: a) esta­blishing a framework of order where the subjects are orien­­ted in their material and social world where they live; and b) permitting the com­munication with a common code among the members of a collective, where all objects are named and the processes precisely classified (Moscovici cited in: Herzlich/Graham 1993). At the same time, social representations en­force the communication among members of the community (Flores 2001), providing them with a so­cially shared code of interchange where names are classified without any ambiguities, in­cluding world-views, mindsets, and personal and social histories. Duveen explains two basic processes of production of social knowledge linked to ‘anchoring’ and ‘objectification’. Anchoring is a process that permits integrating the unknown situation within the existing representation (internalization). Objectification permits that the­se new representations are projected into the world as concrete objects (Duveen 1997: 87). The acquisition of these control mechanisms permit in independent situations to internalize in society two basic psychological processes, which works as control me­cha­nisms and therefore generate gender insecurity: a) women should be: assigned an identity (social facts); and b) women should be available for others: self-identity (socialized).

The exercise of power is the basis for a privileged access to socially valued resources, such as commodities, money, status, leadership, group membership, education, and knowledge. Power im­plies the necessary control or change of mentalities of others to impose the proper ones. All dominant groups tend to create homogeneous identities and social representations within their subjects, where the oppressed decide to support and maintain the oppressive situation in the name of their supposed own interests. These social representations turns women are extremely vulnerable during disaster situations, and recent studies have shown that the death rate of women has been between 68 to 85 per cent. But a crisis situation creates also conditions for resilience-building and empowerment, reinforcing gender security. The affected people get prepared for dealing better: preventing from further disasters and adapting to difficult life situations. Women who are heads of single households are at greater risk, due to stereotypes developed in any specific society, and as a result of generally accepted social representations based on identity processes.

7. 2 Identity and Gift Economy

Genevieve Vaughan (1997) deconstructed postmodern feminism, including women’s free labour for child rearing and unpaid homework as a ‘gift economy’. This free gift is related to maternal thinking (Rud­dick 1995) or mothering (Chodorow 1978), producing collective social changes which go beyond capitalism and communism, both systems with clearly patriarchal roots (Nikolic 2004), and belonging to the logic of exchange. Economic and gift paradigms coexist today. “One is visible, the other invisible; one highly valuated, the other under-valuated. One connected with men; the other with women. “Ex­change puts the ego first and allows it to grow and develop in ways that emphasize me-first com­petitive and hierarchical behaviour patterns…What we need to do is validate the one connected with women, causing a basic shift in the values by which we direct our lives and policies” (Vaughan 2004: 11).

The gift agenda implies to liberate “everyone – women, children and men – from patriarchy without destroying the hu­man beings3 who are its carriers and the planet where they live” (Vaughan 1997: 23). These practices emphasized the need-oriented satisfaction, which creates emotional bonds between givers and receivers. Especially raising young children, mothering re­quires kindness and creativity, and for this reason it is an important gift for the child and society, what deeply challenges the patriarchal economy of exchanges, profit, and interests. “Giving and receiving word-gifts organized in sentences and discourses creates a human relationship among people with regard to things in the world” (Vaughan 1997: 38). By this intentionality of giving, the caretaking is more important than the objectivity of an account, satis­fying the constant social communicative needs, where reality is represented and reinterpreted without competitiveness, transforming homo sa­piens into a homo donans.

Values and the symbolic understanding of male power (skyscrapers, monuments, jewels, arms, bank accounts, supermarkets, and malls) transform social processes into property. Nevertheless, gender identities of men and women are based on processes, and mothering is threatened by narrow military security concerns. Thus, GS understands this mothering not as a self-sacrificing process leading to victimization and control, but as an integral human process and an especially intense moment of gift giving, which is able to increase human and gender security with care for the environment. The gift-economy visualizes also the invisible passivity and receptivity of women not as a mecha­nical concatenation, but as a creative process, where always equal exchanges not only are self-reflecting, but also self-validated by reciprocity. These processes would change the dominant system of existing social representations by creating new identities, increasing GS, and reducing violence and exclusion.

7.3 Ecofeminism

The gifts of nature, such as air, water, sunlight, food, biodiversity, biomass, that are used by humans uncons­cious­ly permitting them adaptation, evo­lu­tion and well-being (D’Eaubonne 1974; Diamond/Orenstein 1990) coexist alongside human gifts. The ‘exchange paradigm’ privatizes these collective natural good and protected by the World Trade Organization (WTO) through Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIP’s) and only a small elite is benefiting. Similar pro­cesses are occurring with the privatization of water, health care, and education (Illich 1976). Thus, the gift economy creates transitional structures to HS and ES, and criticizes the patriarchal capitalism and the position of power over other human beings and nature. In this process subsistence economies from the South are questioning the dominant way of understanding earth and life. Gift economy and ‘ecofeminism’4 are deeply interrelated and complementary, and are in­terpreted here as the third phase of GS studies. Ecofeminism is understood as a convergence of environmental, social, and feminist movements, where mothering spirituality is caring about nature and society; about the vulnerable above all. It represents a movement which is applying feminist modes of analysis and concepts to the environment. The key values are equality and equity, including care, inclusion, solidarity, and respect for other humans and for nature. The principle of sustainability and concern over the coming generation gives the philosophical approach and the activist a theoretical background to link up with human and environmental security.

Ecofeminists see the oppression of women and the exploitation of nature as interconnected. The dominant pa­triarchal system in late capitalism is affecting human, environmental, and gender securities with the same root causes. Control and commoditization of life and goods in favour of a small bourgeoisie are destroying the livelihood of billions of people, pushing them into extreme poverty (Forrester 1999). Also, human health and environment are affected when toxic waste is dumped into seas, waters, the ground, and the atmosphere. As a result, anthropogenic reinforced GEC causes more and worse disasters. However, human and economic losses are affecting differently geographical regions with higher impacts in the Tropics, the Arctic, the Andeans, and the Himalayas, and lower social classes (poor and marginal) and gender (highly women, children and elderly) are the most vulnerable.

When ecofeminists integrated with philosophers of ethics (Zimmerman 1987) and social movements, they deepened in the analysis of the differences between gender and sexuality (Szasz/Lerner 1998). With regard to environ­mental destruction, food scarcity, and women’s discrimination and violence (Pickup 2001), they found an analogue process of exploitation between gender and nature. The complexity of the interlinked processes brought ecofeminists to criticize neoliberalism and regressive globalization.5 From a transradical perspective, ecofeminists linked up to ecoindigenism, cultural resistance and GS. With other movements (women, peasants, indigenous groups and environmentalists) ecofeminists participated in a campaign against mul­tina­tional oligopolies of genetic modified seeds, pointing to the destruction of rural economies and the resulting migration of peasants to shanty towns (Shi­va 1993; CLOC 2004).

By promoting cultural and biological diversity, ecofeminists overcame the Cartesian relationship between subject and object. A cri­ti­cal revision of traditional cultural postulates found the patriarchal roots and the dichotomy between liberty and emancipation. Local sustainable development got excluded from the globalization process that excludes and only a ‘glo­cal’ approach – internatio­nally linked and locally anchored – supported by affected people is able to overcome the impo­sition and assignation of roles promoted by multinationals. The universality of Western thought was scrutinized, and culturally diversity, envi­ron­­mental sustainable self-reliance and food sovereignty with diverse cosmo­visions bloomed again and thus reinforced the cultural plurality and biodiversity, especially in towns and rural communities in poor countries.

7.4 New Social Movements

The confluence of diverse social movements represents a fourth phase of GS studies. Historically, after the explosion of nuclear bomb, feminist movements al­lied with pacifists, creating peace institutes and nonviolent social be­haviour (López 2004). Since the 1970’s, these social groups have cooperated with ecofeminists, indigenous people and ecologists on issues of environmental and social deterioration. When the neo-liberal model spread every­where, workers, trade unionists, the displaced middle class in many countries in the South, the unemployed, the young without a future, and many elders have joined.

During this fourth phase, questions related to GS acquired greater visibility, especially in Mexico when the Za­pa­tistas, an indigenous movement in Chiapas, launched their ‘conflict against neo-liberalism’ on the same day (1 January 1994) when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force (Oswald 2008). This phase of GS also coincided with the rise of international postmodern social movements (Me­lucci 1996). In Latin America they started with the opposition against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). The global connection among social movements emerged during the protest against the WTO in Seattle and alliances were strengthened during the World Social Fora. Sara Larraín (2005) called these new social movements altermundism6.

As diverse social movements they are training inside their organizations processes of democra­tization and sustainability. Although differences exist among these social move­ments, they agreed on specific themes such as the decentralization of power; even though they still have not yet determined how social and territorial decentralization should be implemented, and which could be the institutional options (Kaldor/Anheier/Glasius 2003). The social imaginary, once explored how to transform their legitimate demands – human rights, gender rights (Peters/Wolper 1995) welfare, food sovereignty, peace, environmental care and poverty relief. They questioned the hegemonic development agencies with their technological moder­nizing paradigms, using political power and economic pressure (IMF, WTO) to privatize public services at any costs of social con­di­tions in developing countries and poor social sectors.

These social movements asked for social representation with greater harmony among human beings and nature, coherence between public and private policies, between political offers and pu­blic policies, and a relationship based on reciprocity and cooperation, as well as on solidarity. Habermas (1995) correctly mentioned that this phase aims at an ideological and dis­cur­sive struggle. It is expressed clearly in the strategies of the Zapatistas. They struggle against the control of the mind by mass media, thus imposing socio-cultural representations (Castells 2002; Chomsky 1998). This fourth phase of GS offers an understanding of the interrelationship and mediation processes of different social levels: of micro and macro; of individuals or groups: of relationships among discourses and power domination, and deconstruction where the raising of local consciousness for a global struggle emerged. In strategic terms, the social representations, shared so­cially, permit the establishment of new identity patterns able to create wider alliances with greater achievements and in­creasing capacity for alternatives (CLOC 2004, 2002; Via Campesina 2005).

In summary, the transformation of identity patterns, the creation of alternative social representations, and the visibilization of the gift-giving economy reinforce cooperation and nurturing of humans and nature. Ecofeminists and social movements not only criticized the Euro-American power exercises and ideological domination but proposed integrative mechanisms such as a HUGE security concept consisting of Human, Gender, and Environmental Security (Oswald 1992, 2001, 2005).

8. Human, Gender, and Environmental Security: HUGE

The revision on the three security concepts has shown that there is still a predo­mi­nant disciplinary, male and Western approach in security research (Buzan/Wæver/Wilde 1998; Kaldor/Anheier/Glasius 2003; Steffen/Sanderson/Tyson/Jäger/Matson/Moore III/Oldfield/Richard­son/Schellnhuber/Turner/Wasson 2004; Wæver 2000) deepening and widening in one or another aspect. The evolution of HS has broadened the discussion from personal mine protection to poverty alleviation, human rights (UN 2006), governance, gender participation (IFAD, 2005, UNFPA 2004; Whitehead/Lockwood 1999) and dignified jobs and social protection through income and governmental services (UNMP 2005). Substantially more environmental concerns (UNDP 2007) appear in HS reports (UNDP 2004; World Bank 2007); food and livelihood issues (IBRD/WB 2007; World Bank 2007); peace and conflict resolution (UNES­CO, 2002), and on the regional level new actors and triggering situations are analysed (BID 2007). The five lost decades of development and the increase of poor people worldwide is reorienting the discussion also towards ethical concerns.

GECHS (Matthew/Fraser 2002) has linked social vul­nerability (Birkman 2006) with a loss of wealth as a result of the increasing and more severe disasters (MunichRe 2005). UNEP (2004) included the potential conflict situation due to scarce and polluted resources, and the chronic neglect of governments in poor countries (IFRC-RCS 2006, 2007). Economic concerns were widely debated when the Stern Report (2006) appeared, and critics in favour and against obliged the UNFCCC (2007) in Vienna to quantify future investments for mitigation and adaptation. After the appearance of the IPCC reports (2007, 2007a) and the G-8 Meeting in Heiligendamm (2007)7, ES studies deepened in the transversal process of interrelated social problems with the environment8 (UNEP-PCAU 2004), but few gender-related issues, mostly without any implicit reference to security (United Nations, 2006a; WECF 2006) were discussed. Diverse publications searched for protection of vulnerable social groups (youth, gender, minus valid, elderly; Villagrán 2006; UNDP 2007), animals, coral reefs, and specific ecosystems such as the dry tropical forests, whenever the GS aspect was missing. Nevertheless, an integral concept, linking HS, GS, and ES is still missing, particularly when risks inherent in the model of development are growing (Beck 2007).

The combined Human, Gender, and Envi­ron­mental Secu­rity (HUGE) concept will contribute more both analytically (as a scientific tool for analysis) but also by putting new concerns on the policy agenda (as a policy tool for action by social movements, NGOs, as well as by governments and international organizations) than the three isolated HS, ES, and GS con­cepts introduced above. As discussed before, HUGE relies on a wider gender concept and inclu­des other vul­nerable groups with a human-centred focus on ES challenges as well as peace-building and gender equity (Os­wald 2001, 2004, 2006). As ‘GS’ is still in incipient concept, it was necessary to explain the historical evolution and conceptual components that permitted the creation of a GS reflection with some solid theoretical bases.

The historical evolution of the constituent elements also revealed the deepening and wide­ning analysis of GS from socio-psychological identity concerns, to gift-giving, ecofeminism and social movements, where li­velihood, food,9 health and public security, as well as education and cul­tural diversity (Stephenson 1992) are interacting. Therefore, the HUGE proposal pretends simul­taneously an epistemological critique and a policy advice. It revises several levels10 and looks from an institutional and a grass-root perspectives. Theoretical and empirical diversity permits on one side a deeper understanding of GS linked up with social deterioration and growing poverty, GEC, and armed conflicts in many countries of the world (Muthien/Taylor 2002). Confronted with increasing risks and threats, multilateral organizations (FAO, UNDP, BID, WB) have launched a discussion on empirical stand­point studies and possible alternatives (Mason/King 2001).

A ge­neral agreement was crystallized in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that was approved unanimously by the member countries of the United Nations. They established specific gender policies, first reversing the present situation of inequality through gender quota as a pro­cess of positive discri­mi­nation, specifically in rural and traditional societies, where the con­ventional roles are still very rigid and the process of gender differentiation is still ta­ken for granted (UNMDG 2000). But this is not enough. Also in progressive and gender sensitive so­cieties, differences and inequalities exist as socially constructed phenomena and must be eradicated. This means not only reducing the explicit factors of oppression (time, money, preferences), but also to deepen in the social and individual unconsciousness, where psycho­analysis and Marxism both have tried to show the structural disadvantages of women in any existing society (Basu 1995; Muñón 1999; Muriel 1982; Oswald 1991; E. García 2004; B. García 1999). This process is challenging the present identity processes, consolidated in mass media and anchored by the existing social representations.

In this sense, HUGE reorientates ‘human security’ against structural discrimination processes, where specific governmental policies, institution building, and legal reinforcements should stimulate political and social participation of women, the young, and el­ders. It deepens GS concerns by transforming existing processes of social re­presentation-building and traditional ro­le assignation, linking them up with HS and ES processes. Empiric research during the last years on disasters in different parts of the world has shown that a higher number of the dead and displaced people are women and girls, but also victims of human trafficking, rape, and sexual exploitation.

HUGE focuses on ‘ES’ concerns where a healthy environment and resilien­ce-building for highly vulnerable groups can reduce the impacts of risks associated with hazards. Rein­forcing the own resilience through a bottom-up organization and com­bined with top-down policies effective early warning, preventive eva­cuation, disaster help, and recon­struction is granted. Thus, social vulnerability11 in the recovery phase can be reduced and nonviolent conflict resolution pro­cesses prevent and mitigate civil war situation. In synthesis, HUGE integrates social, en­vi­ron­mental, human, and cultural and iden­­tity concerns, offering solidarity, resilience, sustainable peace-building, and equity in an increasingly insecure and risky world (Beck 2007).

HUGE put on the agenda questions related to internal and external structural inequality and dependency. Linking social movements simulta­neously across the interna­tional levels (through the internet and web pages) and localities (through myths, symbolic acts, protests and daily struggle), the associative function of the anchorage is guaranteed and the processes of communication can be expanded. From this process of micro-genesis onward it is feasible to consolidate a wider social identity, motivating the participants to plan, participate, and develop creatively alternatives, taking as social norms the unconformity against the established model and their methods of domination, violence, discrimination, and exclusion. Once social facts have been transformed into normative and practical processes of alternatives, the structure of social represent­ations is changing in daily life. Simultaneously, in different parts of the world diverse processes of auto­nomy and political alternation (Bolivia, Venezuela, South Africa, and Liberia) are arising and are able to consolidate participative and more equal models of societies.

The HUGE concept is therefore based on a sustainable culture of peace, but goes a step further by including widened security concerns (ES and HS), that were discussed in April 2007 for the first time in the Security Council. Thus, HUGE complements the top-down policy approach on official human security approaches (UNDP 1994) by extending the traditional scope of security, the actors (also including grass-root perspectives), the re­ferent objects and insti­tutions, and the sectors of security concepts (water, seeds, gender). Consequently, a horizontal widening from national military security to political, econo­mic; social, environ­mental security; a vertical deepening from ‘state’ to ‘human’ and ‘gender’ security as well as from ‘natio­nal’ upward to ‘regional’, ‘glo­­bal’ and downward to ‘societal’, ‘local’ and ‘grass-root’ security; and a sectoralization from arms and military industry to energy, food, health, water, and livelihood security is included (Oswald/Brauch 2008: 941-942).

9. Conclusions

As population and environmental stresses increase conflicts and struggles about natural resources (Gleditsch 1997; Oswald 2006, 2006a, 2008b; 2008c), complex strategies are required from governments and international organizations, but also from all organi­zed groups at grass-root level to prevent, mitigate, and resolve them. Thus, the interrelationship of HS, GS, and ES is not simply a sum of three security concepts with their proper development; HUGE is more than the sum. HUGE links together in theoretical terms the social, physical, and ideological components of the three concepts, establishes levels of analysis with chaotic system and sub-system relations, and revises the capacity of the system consistence by self-regulation. In policy terms it orientates the proposals in the direction of a desirable future for majorities, but especially for the highly socially vulnerable. The utopia is a decentralized, diverse, sustainable world with equity and dignity, where ecofeminist and ecoindigenist paradigms care for humanity and nature.

Growing complexities during Anthropocene are impeding the prediction of future scenarios and risks (Beck 2007) that are growing exponentially and in direct relation to the non-action and immobility of powerful nations (Stern 2006; UNFCCC 2007). The theoretical and ethical parameters are clear (Brown 2005). What is missing is an agreement of action (Post-2012) where all nations, social groups, and levels of society are co-ordinately involved and create a multicultural, diverse, and su­stainable development for everybody. This means that nations with historical accumulation of greenhouse gases and high technological and economic development (USA, EU, Australia, and Canada) are historically and morally obliged to support poor nations in their efforts to adapt to GEC. A diverse world implies also political and cultural diversity, able to establish fragile equili­bria and to generate nonviolent conflict re­so­lution processes that can be reinforced by peace-building and prevention in conflict-prone regions.

On the policy side, horizontal inter­change among social movements, organizations, and experiences could strengthen the empowerment of the vulnerable. Solidarity with the poorest countries and social groups, financial aid, debt reductions, and genuine support for develop­ment (Sachs 2005) are pillars for sustainable peace (Oswald 2008, 2008c), able to reduce threats and fears, and to strengthen the HUGE perspective. The confluence and diversity of different strategies, ideological and political struggles and activities, share common basic ethical principles such as plurality, diversity, equity, justice, sustain­ability, and social equality. Globalization with a human face, social integration, gender equity, peace-building, nonviolent conflict resolution, environmental care, and risk reduction can be achieved by flexible structure and alliance.

Respect for diversity, voices of the voiceless, and empowering the socially vulnerable opens more than survival and resistance-building processes. Understanding of root causes, new threats of GEC and diverse experiences are permitting new alliances and alternative grass-root strategies which links up with top-down peaceful conflict resolu­tion, environmental care and genuine social development, where traditional technologies merge with modern ones. Locally created dignified employment can reduce migration and informal labour market, where gift-giving economy (Vaughan 1997) is strengthening also international solidarity in case of disasters.

Less violence and more cooperation means that the hard security and related sectors of the military and police can be trained for civil protection and disaster management, enabling them to guard citizens from hazard impacts by reinforcing early warning, evacuation, and rebuilding processes. Arms complexes and research can be transformed into the creation of sustainable energy. New investments in education and culture would help to consolidate a sustainable de­velop­ment process with environmental restoration in high-risk areas (islands, coastal areas, coral reef, mangroves, forests, savannas). This would reduce threats and consolidate security in hazard-prone regions, where conscious communities and social groups are enabled to create resistance and resilience. Bringing together human, environmental, and gender security with peace-building and risk reduction, the concept of the “Anthropocene suggests the interconnection of human and ecological matters [which) needs to be understood in a way that transcends the divisions between the natural and the human that have structured thinking about security and especially identity since the emergence of modernity. We are not on earth; we are part of an ecosystem we are changing.” (Dalby/Brauch/Oswald 2008).

The positive outcomes of these processes create larger ‘freedom from fear’, ‘from want’, and ‘from hazard impacts’, consolidating peaceful behaviour that is supported creatively by active and equal participation of women (Kameri-Mbote/Anyango Oduor 2008) and children (UNICEF 2000), bringing new energy to decentralized developing models that can consolidate nonviolent daily interaction. Emerging conflicts get resolved through negotiation and conciliation; where the vul­nerable receive an opportunity to express their concerns and the solutions are proposed in equal terms, offering the conflicting parts as a win-win opportunity.

Physical and structural violence is inherent in the present highly competitive free market system and its present mechanisms of regressive glo­balization. The Socia­list utopia was destroyed by a repressive and bureaucratic com­mu­nist regime in the USSR. Which utopia is left to develop ethic principles, communitarian responsibility, gender visibilization and environmentally su­stain­able development, in order to induce a ‘postmodern democracy based on consensus’, with equity, real citi­zen representation, and quality of life? The history of wars, domination, and destruction brought po­verty and death; will such an emerging civilization guarantee diverse, just, equitable, and su­stain­able coexistence, with tasking care for the vul­nerable? This is a challenge for the diverse actors of the 21st century, and HUGE locally and globally developed can find concrete answers to these new challenges.

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