The United Nations Development Fund for Women. Informal Institutions: Impact on development and social justice.
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Informal Institutions: Impact on development and social justice
‘While formal, de-personalized structures of State and politics do exist, the dynamics of real power in South Asia remain intricately linked to family and personal connections ( …).. Formal channels and structures of political power in the region are seriously threatened by the politics of informal power brokerage, and systems of patronage overshadow the formal systems of governance. Consequently, the exercise of real power is often indirect (…).
Kabeer 2002: Informal institutions = ‘parallel traditions of belonging’ that juxtapose ‘a moral economy, founded on norms of reciprocity between socially-acknowledged members, with the contract-based economy based on agreements between abstract individuals’
A depressingly recurrent characteristic of ‘relational’ understandings of rights and obligations: is that they create hierarchies based on gender, age, and ethnicity.
Suad Joseph: ‘patriarchal connectivity’ – the individual’s position in the family shapes assumptions about their rights and entitlements as citizens. ‘sex-role spill-over’ from private to public space.
Continuities between patriarchy in private and patriarchy in politics weakens democracy because the ‘voice’ of women, youth, socially derided racial or ethnic minorities – is stripped of authority
Weakens development because imposes artificial constraints on social mobility, limits women’s property rights, and condones severe abuses of their rights such as sexual and gender-based violence.
Ironically, both suppression of informal institutions, or the recognition of their value, produce an internal patriarchal ‘closing of ranks’:
Menon 1998: ‘Male privilege, female subordination and community identity become intrinsically bound up with each other so that the rights claimed by communities vis a vis the state, the right to autonomy, selfhood and access to resources, are denied by these communities to “their” women’.
- What does it take to liberalize informal institutions?
What makes informal institutions the recognition of their value, produce an internal patriarchal ‘closing of ranks’:
- Change on their own terms – from the inside – e.g.: Islamic feminism (Shirin Ebadi)