chapter  8
33 Pages

Seeking Human Security in a Militarized Pacific: Struggles for Peace and Security by Pacific Island Women

ByRonni Alexander

Human security is an approach to security that seeks to place persons and communities, rather than states, at the centre of the security discourse and to open up the concept to various kinds of security and insecurity within the broad framework of freedom from want and freedom from fear. In so doing, it not only allows us to name a wide variety of forms of structural and cultural violence as insecurity, but also enables us to consider how various kinds of insecurity relate to gender, and in particular, here, to women. At the same time, there is still work to be done. For example, the human security discourse is, I believe, still grappling with fi nding ways to enhance personal and communal security that are not in the end dependent on states, even though they might not entail military action. This is an extremely diffi cult issue, and as the following pages will show, one reason for that diffi cultly lies in the fact that due, in part, to the institutionalized gender hierarchies in states themselves, women can engage in effective

resistance while at the same time contributing to the reproduction of traditional cultural practices that marginalize women. Similarly, while human security recognizes difference, there is much variation in just how much difference is to be acknowledged. For example, human security is theoretically applicable to queer people, but in practice, for reasons of space as in this article or otherwise, they are often left out. The social transformation required to achieve human security involves a reworking of gender relations, part of which would include affi rmation of variations and combinations including transgender. While the discussion here will as a fi rst step focus on women, an important area for further work is to explore the implications of human security for multiple gender identities, including transgender and queer people in the region.2