Feminist Understanding of Globalization

Globalization leads to increased inequality, a feminist issue because women and children are a majority of the poor, the people hurt by climate change, sweat shop labor, migration, neoliberal government austerity measures cutting social programs and so on. Feminist civil society organizations act on this problem in “globalization from below,” often calling on enforcement of human rights. Feminist look at these problems from different theoretical perspectives as:

Postcolonial (i.e. Uma Narayan) and Third World feminism (i.e., Chandra Mohanty and Vandana Shiva) critique Western colonialism and neoliberalism’s austerity cuts of government social programs have a harmful impact on the global South.[i] For example, school fees make education difficult for girls whose brothers are first in line for limited family resources. Foreign funding of NGOs is seen by some as a new form of colonialism.

“Ethics of care” feminists (i.e., Arlie Hochschild) critique the neglect of devaluation of women’s role as unpaid caregivers and cultivators of relationships versus neoliberalism’s individualism. Transnational feminists (i.e., Ann Ferguson and Valentine Moghadam) are similar to Second Wave international or global sisterhood feminists (i.e., Robin Morgan) in their emphasis on common global experiences of patriarchy, but the newer approach understands the specificity of feminist methodology. It acknowledges the intersectionality of oppressions that include more than gender (such as class and nationality). They understand that local context matters and that generalizations about gender globally are inaccurate. They are able to be self-critical about personal bias and ethnocentricity where Western women might stereotype Third World women as ignorant.

[i] Serena Parekh and Shelley Wilcox, “Feminist Perspectives on Globalization”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/feminism-globalization/



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