Bandung's Legacy: Solidarity and Contestation in Global Women’s Rights

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Book Chapter

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Luis Eslava, Michael Fakhri, and Vasuki Nesiah




Cambridge University Press




The Bandung Conference brought together leaders from Asia and Africa in 1955. Although the legacy of the conference is contested, scholars and activists credit Bandung as a founding moment in the rise of third world solidarity and the eventual formation of the non-aligned movement (NAM) (Seng 2008). The final communiqué made a significant statement towards human rights, declaring the full support of the Asia-African Conference to the Charter of the United Nations, and took note of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations (Bandung Final Communique 1955).

This chapter reflects on transnational feminist activism in global governance in the decades following the Bandung Conference. The chapter examines both moments of solidarity and points of departure as women’s rights activists sought to develop a unified platform for advocacy in international law following Bandung. First, using the example of the UN conferences on population, I demonstrate how GS feminists allied with GN feminists to bring a fundamental shift away from population control towards a reproductive health frame. Yet, I argue in Part II, tensions remain as feminists contest the centrality of the broader structural contributors to women’s inequality as part of a feminist agenda. This particular feminist debate, between a broader structural approach to women’s inequality and one based on single-issue feminist projects, is especially present in the global movement to end violence against women (VAW), which often places identity-oriented criminal law and security strategies at odds with broader socio-economic solutions to for addressing VAW.

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