Note: This is the sixth and final post in a series, the whole of which is an article by Martha Nussbaum. The article, entitled "Women’s Bodies: Violence, Security, Capabilities," appeared in the Journal of Human Development (Vol. 6, No. 2, July 2005). Comments are encouraged on parts or on the whole.
Strategies for women’s empowerment
How can we make progress against violence of all the kinds I have described? This is a vast topic, and yet I feel that it can be illuminated by the theoretical approach I have defended. In addition to the obvious strategies of legal reform and better law enforcement, the capabilities approach urges us to think about how we might mobilize one capability to help another. If the analysis of the second section shows that the bad things all hang together, it is also true that supporting one capability helps support others, and sometimes, in an area as culturally contested as this one, the indirect approach through a different capability may be the best. Good women’s organizations typically do not march into a village saying ‘We are here to change gender roles and stop men from beating their wives’. Even when violence is a big part of their agenda, they typically pursue more indirect strategies, giving women greater bargaining power and exit options through economic empowerment.