Women’s Conference: Against a Politics of Fear

“Shared Security is Double the Security – Against a Politics of Fear” was the topic of the spring women’s conference of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches. On March 26, around 50 delegates and guests from the FSPC member churches congregated in Berne.

Fears can provide valuable guidance. But they can also be used to manipulate public opinion with gender clichés and stereotypes. The reasons for fear and anxiety are “a daily issue in the media and go hand in hand with the call for increased security and more drastic measures,” explains the preparation team. “But Zurich, for example, is one of the five safest cities in Europe.”

To lead a secure life means to be protected in three areas, according to Katrin Meyer, philosopher and program coordinator of the Network of Gender Studies CH at the Center for Gender Studies at Basel University. “Security includes protection from physical violence, the creation of social solidarity and the reinforcement of an individual’s ability to act autonomously.” As a rule, the existence and dominance of patriarchal structures makes women more vulnerable in those three areas, and their safety situation “tends to be more precarious.”

Then Meyer presented “three forms of shared security.” First, she focused on the “fair distribution of material security” in the sense of distributive justice. This distributive justice must be accompanied by the “democratic sharing of the power of security.” With such an idea of justice in place, privileging one population group’s need of security above all others cannot be tolerated. “Therefore, there is no way around expanding the participation rights of the immigrant population,” explained Meyer. The third form of shared security, “commonly shared care,” mainly focuses on the issue of “the extent people in the global East and South are working to satisfy the security demands of people in the North and the West, thereby often putting themselves and their loved ones in danger.”

How do women deal with fear and safety? Is there a gender aspect to the issue of safety and security? Several workshops were held to discuss these issues. Topics included the economic crisis, how to deal with the news in uncertain times, and intercultural encounters. The next women’s conference will take place October 29, 2012, in Berne.

» Presentation (german only)