31-03-2010 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 877, by Carolyn Nordstrom
This article explores the realities of women’s work amid political violence, post-war development, and across the spectrum of in/formality. The conclusions serve to challenge established notions of power, profit, economy, and the role of gender within these.
Political violence amplifies contemporary trends occurring worldwide in the twentyfirst century: globalization, an increasing reliance on the informal economy, a shift from twentieth-century manufacturing to resource and labour wildcatting, and the growth of complex international extra-legal trade networks. Women are central to all of these, though their roles both as leaders of development and victims of violence are often overlooked in mainstream analyses. To explain these invisibilities, this article introduces the concept of vanishing points – places where formal analyses and policy effectively cease, such as the dividing lines between formal and informal economies, and the violence associated with controlling extra-legal profits that is effectively invisible to the public at large. The realities of women’s work amid political violence and postwar development, and across the spectrum of in/formality are explored. The conclusions serve to challenge established notions of power, profit, and economy, and the role of gender within these.