WWW.DISSERTATION.XLIBX.INFO
FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials
 
<< HOME
CONTACTS



Pages:   || 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

«ASPJ Africa & Francophonie - 2nd Quarter 2015 Feminism and the Politics of Empowerment in International Development Carole Biewener, PhD* ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

ASPJ Africa & Francophonie - 2nd Quarter 2015

Feminism and the Politics of

Empowerment in International

Development

Carole Biewener, PhD*

Marie-hélène BaCqué, PhD

B

y the end of the twentieth century, the term empowerment had entered the

mainstream of international development discourse. Yet, its origins in this arena

derive in large part from feminists working in nongovernmental organizations

(NGO) throughout the global South in the 1970s and 1980s, many of whom

were interested in fostering alternative forms of development along with “women’s liberation.”1 Considerable work has addressed the mainstreaming of empowerment, with critical commentary on how this action has brought significant shifts in its meaning and use.2 In contrast to those who argue that international development institutions “have taken the power out of empowerment,” we contend that mainstream initiatives envision and further significant forms of power—forms that enable particular types of subjectivity and agency that lead to a “depoliticization” along the lines of what Wendy Brown has addressed in her work on neoliberalism and de-democratization.3 We also argue that, although the mainstreaming of empowerment discourse has brought a normalization and domestication along liberal lines, significant differences are at play within the mainstream that need to be acknowledged. In this article, we trace the emergence of empowerment discourse within the World Bank (WB), identifying a neoliberal orientation in which Carole Biewener is a professor of economics and women’s and gender studies at Simmons College in * Boston, Massachusetts. Her research and publications have addressed the French Socialist government’s financial policies in the 1980s, community development and social economy projects in the United States and Canada, and debates at the intersection of poststructuralist feminism and postmodern Marxism. She has also undertaken a long-term joint research project with her coauthor, Marie-Hélène Bacqué, on the genealogy of the term empowerment in the fields of gender and development, urban politics, and social work, culminating in several journal articles and a book, L’Empowerment, une pratique émancipatrice (La Découverte, 2013). Dr.

Biewener’s current research addresses gender and the political economy of food.

Marie-Hélène Bacqué is a professor of urban studies at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. She is affiliated with UMR LOUEST (CNRS), an interdisciplinary urban studies research center, and served as the director of the Mosaïques-LAVUE research laboratory from 2009 to 2014. She has conducted research and published widely on forms of urban democracy in French and North American cities, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. More recently, Dr. Bacqué has researched the origins of participatory approaches, coediting two books in this area: La démocratie participative inachevée: genèse, adaptations et diffusion (Editions Yves Michel, 2010) and La démocratie participative: histoire et généalogie (La Découverte, 2011).

FEMINISM AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 59

empowerment is connected to individual rational choice, efficiency, investment, free markets, entrepreneurship, and, more recently, a social-liberal framing that locates empowerment in relation to governance, poverty alleviation, equal opportunity, capabilities, and “effective asset-based choice.”4 We contrast these two liberal empowerment projects with the left feminist approach that developed from community-based activism in South Asia.

We then conclude by considering some of the key challenges facing feminists, given the tensions inherent in a radical empowerment project, arguing that in light of the current context in which powerful liberal conceptualizations have taken center stage, it is especially important for feminists to pursue a “postcapitalist politics” that connects empowerment to alternative, noncapitalist visions of the economy.5 Since its inception in the midnineteenth century, the word empowerment has been used in two different ways. On the one hand, reflecting its early origins, it has meant that power has been “given,” “invested,” or “authorized” by a higher authority (such as the state or a religious institution). On the other hand, reflecting its contemporary usage dating from the mid-1970s, it may designate a process by which individuals come to develop the capacity to act and to acquire power. As such, it is seen as something that individuals develop themselves. Understood in this latter manner, the term came of age in a period when global/local synergies and tensions became prominent (i.e., the 1970s and 1980s).

Its embrace across the political spectrum reflects a widely shared recognition of local and/ or individual instances of power as crucial elements in the realization of any social project.

It also reflects a common reaction against the authority of large-scale, hierarchical, and bureaucratic institutions, and a turn toward emancipatory projects based upon some vision of self-actualization and/or self-determination. Thus, empowerment as the embodiment of a “grassroots” or “bottom-up” vision of social change also came of age in a period when questions related to agency, subjectivity, and identity exploded onto the social and political landscape. By looking at the emergence of the left feminist, neoliberal, and social-liberal empowerment perspectives, we are able to appreciate the alternative politics at play in these different projects, along with the different conceptualizations of agency, subjectivity, and power.





From the “Grassroots”:

Empowerment as an Alternative Feminist Approach to Development The term empowerment began to be used among feminists working in South Asian community groups and NGOs in the mid-1970s.6 As Narayan Banerjee notes, in India “the concept of ‘empowerment’ of women is the product of [the] post 1975 women’s movement.”7 By the mid-1980s, the Indian government had embraced “grassroot organizational empowerment” as part of its planning agenda for rural development. Concurrently, a distinctive feminist “empowerment approach” to development emerged on the international scene in the mid-1980s through the work of one of the first transnational feminist networks—the Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) project.

60 ASPJ AFRICA & FRANCOPHONIE Throughout South Asia in the 1970s, feminists reacted against the government’s top-down welfare approach to women in development and worked to break women’s “shackles of the mind.”8 In India, feminists sought to transform the meaning of the word empowerment to that of a woman needing to be “given self-hood and self-strength” or “to be strengthened to be herself ” rather than being a “beneficiary” who needed to be “dealt out cards—welfare and money—to make her feel better.”9 Similar to what was happening concurrently in the battered women’s movement in the United States, as feminists in South Asia organized against domestic violence, rape, dowry, and sati—and for reproductive rights—they recognized that empowerment necessitates an internal, subjective dimension that addresses a woman’s positioning of herself relative to the world.10 To them, “it was a process, that of acquiring a sense of identity that is couched in terms of selfworth and equality.... Until women recognize themselves as worthy of rights they are not going to get empowered.”11 Thus, throughout South Asia, feminist understandings of empowerment emphasized the importance of recognizing and developing a woman’s sense of identity and agency through a process of consciousness raising or “conscientization.”12 This feminist activism contributed to the Indian government’s embrace of “an induced organizational approach” to rural women’s development that shifted the government’s understanding of empowerment toward more of a grassroots orientation.13 By the mid-1980s, a new meaning of empowerment had emerged within the Indian government’s planning arenas—one oriented toward “grassroot empowerment” for poor, largely rural women via collective reflection, participation, and group self-organization.14 By the mid-1980s the term empowerment also had gained broader international political and economic recognition when at the NGO forum at the United Nations’ 1985 second World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, the nascent DAWN project of “Third World women social scientists” circulated a platform document outlining an alternative development approach.15 This widely discussed “manifesto” provided a critique of mainstream development programs and offered a vision of an alternative feminist “paradigm” in which women’s empowerment figured prominently. It was subsequently published in 1987 as what has become a well-known book—Development, Crises, and Alternative Visions: Third World Women’s Perspectives.16 DAWN itself became institutionalized as “a network of activists, researchers and policymakers” from the “Third World,” engaging in what Mary Hawkesworth has characterized as an “information politics.”17 This above-mentioned book, dedicated to “a process of ongoing empowerment of women,” is notable in several respects:18

• Written by feminist activists, academics, and policy makers from the global South, it connected the grassroots-level work that many of the women were familiar with or engaged in, to a macroeconomic analysis and critique that showed how neoliberal development practices had aggravated women’s circumstances throughout the world, resulting in a food crisis in Africa, the Latin American debt crisis, a crisis of poverty in South Asia, and militarism in the Pacific Islands.

FEMINISM AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 61

• It put forth an alternative left feminist vision of “autonomous and equitable development” oriented toward satisfying people’s basic needs. As such, it criticized the “integrationist” approach of the liberal “Women in Development” perspective that implicitly assumed that “women’s main problem in the Third World is insufficient participation in an otherwise benevolent process of growth and development.”19 Furthermore, it called for structural and systemic change so that “inequality based on class, gender and race is absent from every country, and from the relationships among countries.”20

• The book argued that only by taking the standpoint of poor Third World women might one come to a proper understanding of development and be able to fashion effective alternatives.

• It posed empowerment and the self-organization of women as necessary for realizing such alternative development.21 Subsequently, DAWN’s alternative “empowerment approach” gained substantial recognition in more mainstream development arenas with the 1989 publication of an influential article by Caroline Moser, a social anthropologist, in the highly respected journal, World Development.22 By the 1990s, one could find references to empowerment in international development literature that spanned the globe.

Given the local, grassroots nature of people working to “empower women” and the considerable diversity of regions and contexts, differences exist in how women’s empowerment has been described and undertaken.23 Yet, generally, feminist empowerment has been viewed as a process involving the self-organization of women in a manner that enables them to mobilize to effect transformative social changes in “structures of subordination” so as to free them from subjugation. As such, feminist empowerment necessitates work at the individual level as well as at organizational and social levels. Indeed, it involves an articulation of at least three different dimensions: (1) an internal, psychological, or subjective level of empowerment in which a person’s “power within” and individual-level “power to” are developed; (2) an interpersonal and organizational level whereby a “power with” and a “power over” are cultivated; and (3) a political or social level where institutional and/or structural change is made possible via collective action.24 As Srilatha Batliwala, an Indian social worker and feminist activist, has written, Radical transformations in society... cannot be achieved through the struggles of village or neighbourhood women’s collectives.... In the final analysis, to transform society, women’s empowerment must become a political force, that is, an organized mass movement that challenges and transforms existing power structures. Empowerment should ultimately lead to the formation of mass organizations of poor women, at the regional, national and international levels.25 Thus, feminist empowerment has been understood fundamentally as a multifaceted process that explicitly addresses social power and inequality and that enables social transformation on the basis of women’s self-organization. Further, as a reaction against topASPJ AFRICA & FRANCOPHONIE down welfare and neoliberal approaches to women and development, this transnational feminist project of social change has been connected to a vision of alternative, noncapitalist development.



Pages:   || 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |


Similar works:

«1 FOCUS ON THE TECH: Internet centrism in global protest coverage Deen Freelon Sarah Merritt Taylor Jaymes (Forthcoming in Digital Journalism) Internet centrism, the notion that online tools play substantial roles in social and political processes, is frequently invoked by journalists, pundits, and academics. Existing research has explored this idea directly in the case of protest, attempting to discern the actual magnitude of the Internet’s role in protest organization and mobilization....»

«VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN SYRIA: BREAKING THE SILENCE Briefing Paper Based on an FIDH assessment mission in Jordan in December 2012 Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political...»

«LESSON THREE: Politics and Portraiture IMAGE THIRTEEN: George Grosz. American 15 (born and died in Germany), 1893–1959. LESSONS “The Convict”: Monteur John Heartfield after Franz Jung’s Attempt to Get Him Up on His Feet. 1920. Watercolor, pencil, cut-andpasted postcards, and halftone relief on paper, 16 1⁄2 x 12 (41.9 x 30.5 cm). Gift of A. Conger Goodyear, 1952. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG BildKunst, Bonn IMAGE FOURTEEN: Hannah Höch. German, 1889–1978. Indian...»

«Recommended Test Accommodations for ELLs with Disabilities PLEASE REFER TO YOUR STATE’S ACCOMMODATION POLICIES FOR LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TESTING FOR POLICY GUIDANCE. WIDA PROVIDES ONLY RECOMMENDATIONS ON ACCOMMODATIONS. Accommodations This section describes WIDA’s recommended test accommodations for ELLs with special needs, particularly students with an Individualized Education Program and/or a 504 Plan as determined by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and the...»

«Southeast  Asian  Studies  Symposium:  10 ­11  March  2012,  St.  Antony’s  College,  University  of  Oxford   PANEL  VI:  ENVIRONMENT     Paper 1 Hazy Governance: The Politics of Environmental Securitization in Southeast Asia* Dr Lee Jones Queen Mary, University of London l.c.jones@qmul.ac.uk NB: Work in Progress: Comments are welcome but please do not circulate or cite without the author’s permission. Abstract Most scholars and environmentalists concur...»

«The Headscarf as Threat: A Comparison of German and U.S. Legal Discourses Robert A. Kahn∗ ABSTRACT This Article compares how U.S. and German judges conceptualize the harm the headscarf poses to society. The examples are the 2003 Ludin case, in which the German Federal Constitutional Court held that the civil service, in the absence of state regulation, could not reject a woman from a civil service teaching position solely because she would not remove her headscarf while teaching, and State v....»

«European Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3, May 2016, pp. 317–332. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA Open Arms Behind Barred Doors: Fear, Hypocrisy and Policy Schizophrenia in the European Migration Crisis Kelly M. Greenhill* Abstract: In 2015, over one million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe, laying bare the limitations of the EU’s common border control and burden-sharing systems. This article examines...»

«Robert Kenny, Robin Foster & Tim Suter The value of Digital Terrestrial Television in an era of increasing demand for spectrum January 2014 About the Authors Rob Kenny Rob advises on strategy and policy issues across telecommunications and media. Prior to co-founding Communications Chambers in 2010, he was for four years MD of Human Capital, a leading media consultancy. Previously he headed M&A for Level 3 (a leading US telco) and strategy and M&A for Hongkong Telecom. He was also Commercial...»

«The maritime cluster in the Baltic Sea region and beyond Edited by Kari Liuhto BSR Policy Briefing 1/2016 BSR Policy Briefing 1/2016 The maritime cluster in the Baltic Sea region and beyond Edited by Kari Liuhto © Centrum Balticum Foundation, 18.5.2016 BSR Policy Briefing 1/2016 Contents Authors 1 Introduction 10 Kari Liuhto EU support to unlocking blue growth opportunities 14 João Aguiar Machado Evolution of the maritime cluster in a changing world 17 Tuomas Routa The Finnish maritime...»

«Adriel A. Hilton, Ph.D. www.adrielhilton.com Home Address 579 Hampton Circle, N.W. Apartment 2B Walker, Michigan 49534 (305) 491-7125 (mobile) adriel_hilton@hotmail.com (e-mail) EDUCATION Doctor of Philosophy Higher Education (Administration) Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD School of Education and Urban Studies Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership and Policy Dissertation Title: The Perceptions of Administrators Concerning the One Florida Initiative Master of Applied Social Science...»

«Durham E-Theses xotion of hivine „ri—l in the ur9—n e griti™—l en—lysis —nd ‚e—ppr—is—l of the ˜—l© x—rr—tives — ROUZATI, NASRIN How to cite: xotion of hivine „ri—l in the ur9—n e griti™—l en—lysis —nd ‚e—ppr—is—l of ROUZATI, NASRIN (2013) the ˜—l© x—rr—tives —, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/10541/ Use policy The full-text may be used and/or reproduced, and given to third parties in any...»

«International Center for Public Policy In Working Paper 12-31 INTERNATIONAL October 2012 CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY Toward a More General Theory of Revenue Assignments Jorge Martinez-Vazquez Cristian Sepulveda International Center for Public Policy Working Paper 12-31 Toward a More General Theory of Revenue Assignments Jorge Martinez-Vazquez Cristian Sepulveda October 2012 International Center for Public Policy Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Georgia State University Atlanta, Georgia 30303...»





 
<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.