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Women and Development

Western Feminism and Third World Feminism: How does the debate between western feminism and third world feminism inform the transformation of development programs? Introduction: The debate between western feminism and third world feminism is a subject that has elicited much criticism. However, there is a common ground when it comes to issues of economic and social development of women. Johnson-Odim, being one of the authoritative voices in matters of feminism affirms that there are several problems some Third World women have with First World feminism.

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He states that, “While it may be legitimately argued that there is no one school of thought on feminism among First World feminists — who are not, after all, monolithic — there is still, among Third World women, a widely accepted perception that the feminism emerging from white, middle-class Western women narrowly confines itself to a struggle against gender discrimination” Hence, to an extent, there is some kind of mutual ground between both parties as they both share the sane struggle.

This common ground has given them one voice when it comes to there participation in economic development. Indeed, Feminists have voiced the fact that the contribution of women in the Gross National Product (GNP) or their involvement in the informal workforce has been largely ignored and uncounted. There justification is the fact that it has become unavoidable, the necessity of assessing the opportunity cost of household works done by women, including the social value of childbearing and motherhood and the economic value of generating human capital.

This claims have led to governments the world over to formally acknowledge that there has been a negative impact on women of various national and international policies like discriminatory civil and judicial laws, privatization, structural adjustment etc. along with existing patriarchal social and cultural norms that reinforced the very process of discrimination[Snigdha Ali]. This has led to a lot of transformation in terms of social and economic development of women the world over.

One example of such a phenomenon would be how structural adjustment policies pushed by the World bank and the IMF to be adopted by Third World countries have restructured the economic and social conditions of this countries and impacted on the citizens overall and women in particular. Indeed, many agree that there implementation has brought about more equality in social and economic opportunities for development [Snigdha Ali]. Question #2:

Feminist activists from the South have challenged the foundations of development studies by focusing on development as “a transformation of institutions, structures and relations that perpetuate injustice, inequality and inequity” (Visvanathan, 1997: 29). Introduction: The extreme material and other associated inequalities of contemporary globalization, and the concentration of technological development and power in the rich economies of the North have increased the degree of disparity between economies in the North and those in the South. This has impacted on the important contributions to improve the status of women in the South.

Indeed, feminist activists from the South have challenged the foundations of economic and social development studies employed that still focus on gender differences based on biology. Spurred on by Karl Marx’s analysis of the social structure of capitalism, they point out that gender inequality is not an individual matter, but is deeply ingrained in the structure of societies. This means that gender inequality is built into the organization of marriage and families, work and the economy, politics, religions, the arts and other cultural productions, and the very language we speak.

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