Call for Papers: IDS Bulletin on Sexual Harassment and Accountability

Published on 17 May 2018

Renowned international development journal, the IDS Bulletin, is preparing a special issue looking at how accountability for addressing sexual harassment actually works on the ground. This call for papers is open to scholars, practitioners, policy experts and activists, and we welcome contributions from around the world. We are particularly interested a focus in difficult, challenging contexts.

The #MeToo campaign has generated ripple effects globally in terms of emboldening women and men to talk about the occurrence of sexual harassment in various institutional settings.

It has also encouraged whistleblowers globally to expose complacency and ineffectual reporting mechanisms where their calls for action earlier would have conventionally been suppressed as unnecessarily inflammatory or alarmist.

While the #MeToo campaign opened the floodgates of claims-making against practices that are deeply imbued in abuses of power, they have nevertheless raised important questions beyond the original campaign regarding:

  • What does accountability look like for addressing sexual harassment collectively?
  • What of the outcome of collective claims-making in difficult and fragile contexts?

About this special issue on accountability and sexual harassment

This special issue of the IDS Bulletin, edited by Mariz Tadros and Jenny Edwards will look at what accountability for addressing this phenomenon actually looks like on the ground, rather than the scope or nature of the problem of sexual harassment or its drivers. It is being produced as part of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability Research Programme (A4EA).

The issue aims to draw together articles from scholars, practitioners, policy experts and activists to reflect on this issue from their own contexts from across the world.

Inevitably, the articles will touch on the nature of sexual harassment as part of the background information, however, the focus will be on what accountability looks like in particularly difficult settings, such as high political, economic or security volatility and the consequent unpredictability in people’s lives, shrinking or closing civil space, strong social norms of shame, etc.

The special issue will be published in March 2019, time to coincide with International Women’s Day and the Commission on the Status of Women. It will be extensively promoted through IDS’ and A4EA’s networks and beyond.

What are dimensions of accountability which could be explored by articles submitted to this issue?

There are many dimensions to accountability that could be explored. A few examples could include:

(1) Accountability on a Discourse Level

How is sexual harassment talked about:

  • What myths are perpetuated?
  • What kind of power dynamics can be inferred?

The complexity of these dynamics is avoiding essentialist descriptions of power relations, i.e. hypermasculine male, victim woman.

How do we recognise the embedded deep structures of gender inequality and power over relationships without negating people’s agency?

(2) The Ethics of Accountability

Naming and shaming has always been a core dimension of accountability but there is also moral accountability: how do we prevent the political appropriation of naming and shaming to crush opponents and enemies in political struggles that have nothing to do with addressing sexual harassment?

(3) Accountability via the Law

How enabling are the institutional claims-making paths of accountability? What does answerability look like? What does enforcement look like from a legal perspective?

(4) Institutional Accountability

Beyond accountability for individual acts of infringement, what would institutional accountability look like in terms of creating an enabling culture that protects against abuse of power along a number of axes (gender, race, class, age, etc.)

These are just a few, however, and we look forward to submissions of what accountability looks like in diverse contexts and the issues it raises.

About the call

We are seeking articles of approximately 5,000 words long which engage with the issue of what accountability for addressing sexual harassment looks like.

We welcome contributions from across the world, but our focus in particular is on difficult settings described above.

Important dates

Friday 08 June 2018 – please email Mariz Tadros and Jenny Edwards with your expression of interest and a short abstract of your proposed article (up to 150 words).

Friday 31 August – submission of final draft of your paper, if it is accepted.

March 2019 – special Issue is published and promoted.

About the IDS Bulletin

The IDS Bulletin is an open access, peer-review journal and is one of the most widely read international development journals. While the journal is open access, there will be no cost to authors for submitting and publishing their articles (i.e. Article Processing Charges which are often charged by journals to authors to ensure their articles are open access).

Articles are hosted on OpenDocs, IDS’ institutional repository, which curates millions of downloads every year.

Each IDS Bulletin benefits from a specific and targeted promotional campaign which reaches both academic and policy/practitioner audiences.

About the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme

A4EA is an international research programme which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings, with a particular focus on Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan.


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