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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Feminist critical human security : women's (in) security and smuggling on Ecuador's borders Donoso, Claudia


The study addresses the following central research question: What comprises the web of power relations that have led to women’s insecurity in Ecuador’s border provinces, El Oro, Carchi and Sucumbíos? A web of power relationships in those provinces has perpetuated intersectional inequalities that lead women to become smugglers. This web is supported by systems of oppression based on gender, class, race and geographical location that foster unequal access to education, paid work, health services and domestic violence, thereby aggravating women’s insecurity. Customs control, police and military subsumed under national and border security aggravate women’s security conditions. To complement this militarized response, the government of Rafael Correa launched Plan Ecuador and the Sovereign Energy Plan in 2007 and the Comprehensive Security Plan in 2011. These plans sought to confront the involvement of Ecuadorians in activities considered illegal by the security forces. While Plan Ecuador and the Integral Security Plan incorporated a multidimensional approach and a human security discourse to complement national security, they did not recognize the diversity of women's experiences of insecurity and roles at border provinces. To address this empirical case, this dissertation advances the concept of “feminist critical human security” to examine women’s security in Ecuador’s border zones, specifically in El Oro, Sucumbíos and Carchi provinces. Drawing on Black feminism’s idea of intersectionality and matrix of domination and on feminist critiques of national security, this research establishes women smugglers as referents of security rather than as criminals, as the border security discourse views them. By using a feminist critical human security lens that take into account the intersections of gender, race, class and geographical location and that includes the voices of women and their conceptions of local development and security, this research will enhance the ability of governments to improve their planning and policies related to increasing the security of women in border zones.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International