Rhizomes, Weak Links and Far Flung Networks: Empowering Women’s Space in Tropical Asia

Anita Lundberg


The United Nations declaration of the ‘International Day of the Tropics’ intends to raise awareness of the importance of the tropical regions of the world – from their ecological and cultural diversity, to their unequal share of the burden of poverty. The date of the international day of the tropics on the 29th June each year, also celebrates the anniversary of the launch of the inaugural State of the Tropics 2014 report by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. This link to ‘The Lady’, as she is simply referred to by admirers, reminds me of an earlier time, twenty years previously, when Suu Kyi gave a recorded keynote address (she was still under house arrest) for the NGO Forum on Women which was also held in conjunction with the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, in China.

This connection between the tropics and women matters because many parts of the tropics continue to struggle against poverty and it is well documented that women and children bear the largest burden of poverty. The tropics are home to a reported 40% of the world’s population, with that population undergoing immense growth. Estimates are that by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s children under 15 years of age will be living in the tropics. This means the tropical zones of the world are also home to a vast number of women whose voices are striving to be heard.

This paper examines, in an exploratory voice, how women’s networks contribute to their empowerment, especially in regions of tropical Asia. Influenced by interdisciplinary theories of network science and the philosophy of rhizomatics, the paper analyses the power of networks across multiple plateaux. Starting with the networks evoked in a feminine artwork, the analysis flings across to women’s networks – those that are empowered and those that remained disempowered – and finally emerges through education networks.


women's empowerment; networks; rhizomatics; education; tropical Asia

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.15.2.2016.3547


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