Gender Politics and the New Christendom: The 1994 Cairo Population Conference

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 2:50 PM
Grand Hall D (Hyatt Regency Atlanta)
Kimba Tichenor, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study
The 1994 Cairo Population Conference witnessed a clash between US officials, population experts, and secular feminists on the one hand and conservative Islamic and Christian groups on the other. At issue was the UN Draft Plan’s failure to rule out abortion as a reproductive right. This paper analyzes this conflict so as to highlight how gender politics in the late twentieth century contributed to the contraction and intensification of Christian religious life in the North and to the shift in Christianity’s epicenter from the North to the Global South. In particular, it focuses on this transformation in the Catholic Church, demonstrating that Cairo was not a Pyrrhic victory for the Vatican, as often claimed, but led to a revitalization of Catholic position on the international stage.