'Walking wombs': making sense of the Muskoka initiative and the emphasis on motherhood in canadian foreign policy

  • The Muskoka Initiative – or the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Initiative has been a flagship foreign policy strategy of the Harper Conservatives since it was introduced in 2010. However, the maternal health initiative has been met with a number of key criticisms in relation to its failure to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women in the Global South2. In this article, I examine these criticisms and expose the prevalent and problematic discourse employed in Canadian policy papers and official government speeches pertaining to the MNCH Initiative. I examine the embodiment of the MNCH and how these references to women’s bodies as “walking wombs” facilitate: the objectification and ‘othering’ of women as mothers and childbearers; a discourse of ‘saving mothers’ in a paternalistic and essentialist language; and the purposeful omission of gender equality. Feminist International Relations (IR) and post-colonial literature, as well as critical/feminist Canadian foreign policy scholarship are employed in this paper to frame these critiques.

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Author:Rebecca Tiessen
Parent Title (English):Global justice : theory, practice, rhetoric
Publisher:The Global Justice Network
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2015
Year of first Publication:2015
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/07/01
Tag:Canadian foreign policy; gender essentialism; gender inequality; maternal health; mothers
Page Number:22
First Page:1
Last Page:22
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 34 Recht / 340 Recht
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht