Reproductive health is a threat to the security of women around the world. This seminar offers three arguments as to why reproductive health should be recognised as an international security threat. First, global health security performs a normative function: this should be harnessed to elevate reproductive health as a policy concern. In so doing, the concept of global health security needs to be rethought from its common statist conception. Such an engagement refocuses the nature of threat (state denial of reproductive rights) and referent object (women accessing reproductive health services) in global health security. Second, a security frame directly confronts the security dilemma that underpins current cycles of advancement and backlash on reproductive health issues, specifically with relation to reproductive rights, resistance, and denial. Reproductive health presents a security dilemma for its advocates and users: reproductive health services is vital for women’s mortality and morbidity; yet provision can further threaten the lives of women and the people who advocate for services. Such a dilemma should be recognised and named. Third, reproductive health is a missing pillar of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Ending this oversight is crucial given how reproductive health limits women’s meaningful participation in politics and society.
Sara E. Davies is an Associate Professor at the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Australia. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gender Peace and Security Centre, School of Social Sciences, Monash University.
This IR Seminar was held on 16 September 2019 at ANU, Professor Davies was introduced by Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, IR Seminar Series Convenor, Coral Bell School, ANU.
Please note the paper on which this seminar is based is co-authored with Sophie Harman, Queen Mary University of London.