How “Universal” Are Human Rights? Listening to the Counter-stories of Subaltern Refugee Women Resettling in Sydney, Australia

By Daile Lynn Rung.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 8, 2015 Free Download

Currently there are more than 51.2 million people forcibly displaced worldwide (UNHCR 2014), with women and their dependent children comprising approximately 70–75 percent of the world’s displaced population. Through a critical, feminist reading of citizenship and social inclusion following scholars such as Ruth Lister, Iris Marion Young, Gayatri Spivak, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, bell hooks, and Chantal Mouffe, this paper explores a qualitative research study of how a small group of Sierra Leonean refugee women resettling in Sydney, Australia experience educational access and family protection before, during, and after forced migration. Drawing upon the participants’ narrative accounts, this paper investigates the complex human rights challenges faced by women who are socially positioned as subaltern and as refugees. Their voices depict how certain groups of women may be excluded from the “universal” human rights of education and family protection as outlined in the principal human rights document, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations 2015). It is argued that in order to advance human rights culture and democratic participation in civil society the voices and experiences of subaltern women refugees and forced migrants must be centred in the construction of knowledge about the complex social factors leading up to forced migration and the actualities of refugee resettlement.

Keywords: Refugee Women, Human Rights, Citizenship

The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations: Annual Review, Volume 15, 2015, pp.13-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 8, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 813.633KB)).

Daile Lynn Rung

Ph.D. Candidate, International Graduate Centre of Education, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia