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Global Gender

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  1. Global Gender • What it means to be female or male differs depending on what society a person finds themselves in. • Macro-level analysis finds differences in economy (kind and level of economic development), politics (kind of system), culture (majority’s core values and traditions), and history (key events, like environmental—hurricanes, colonization, as well as social history) • Micro-level analysis finds differences in meanings of male/female, social roles, cultural rituals/traditions, access to resources • Values of freedom? Human rights?

  2. Economic Differences • Countries differ by their level of economic development • Some countries have more agriculture and less industry; some have less industrial jobs and more service jobs • Distinctions are made between the developed North and the developing South—richer and poorer countries • Sociology—world systems’ theory provides one theory for these differences and how countries get linked together in newer globalization processes. • Economic globalization—the increased flow of goods and services, capital and people across national borders (WEDO fact sheet, p. 1.) • Women/men not same economically: majority of world’s poor are women and women work 2/3 of world’s working hours. • Major economic inequalities between women/men and countries

  3. Political Differences • Countries differ by the kind of formal and informal political structures they have • Country as “nation” (see Woolf’s quote in West p. 1—includes cultural group definitions) and country as “state”—formal political structures and processes • Nations are not always in states (see West) • What difference does kind of formal political structures make to equality between men and women? • Example: democracy vs. authoritarianism • Example differences in voting systems--parliamentary systems with proportional representation vs. two-party plurality--majority vote

  4. Social and Cultural Differences • Cultures: language, food, rituals, religion, cultural traditions differ • Social: social roles, values/norms, structures differ • Universal male dominance? Female subordination? How are societies the same? How are they different? • Examples: differences in how societies define beauty? (thinness/fatness); differences in how societies value sons/daughters? Differences in sex segregation/integration?

  5. Formal International Institutions • United Nations • International NGOs—non-governmental organizations

  6. United Nations Year for Women • Concern with status of women led to first U.N. conference on women in 1975 in Mexico City with mainly men or wives of leaders heading country delegations—133 governments attending • NGO Forum—non-governmental organization conference running parallel to govt meetings with grass-roots representation—6,000 women attending • Platform of Action—a U.N. document that articulated female inequalities and plans of action to remedy these • 1979—CEDAW—treaty U.S. has not signed

  7. A Decade for Women • 1980 Copenhagen conference—145 governments; still western dominated. Concern with cultural practices like fgm. West did first workshop on family violence with Center for Women Policy Studies at NGO Forum—8,000 women • 1985 Nairobi conference—157 governments put Africa and South into conference. Concern with western (feminist) domination and definitions (colonial histories) with 15,000 women at Forum • 1995 Beijing conference—189 govts. NGO 30,000 women AND men--control by Chinese communist government failed. Defining women’s rights as human rights • See Seager p.11

  8. 1995 Gender Issue • The word “gender” was bracketed in the early drafts of Platform of Action—why? • Coalition of Holy See (Vatican) with Latin American Catholic-dominated and Middle Eastern/Muslim representations saw the use of gender as an attack on their traditions because it emphasized the social construction of sex. • Opened the door to sex issues advocating homosexuality, abortion and teen age contraception use where sex not linked to marriage and motherhood. Pope John Paul II—problem of “radical individualism”. • American conservatives agreed with this interpretation • Brokered a deal and unbracketed gender avoiding issues of abortion and homosexuality

  9. A Decade Later • 2005 Progress Report: continuing gender inequalities with limits on women’s access to income, authority and power. • Global fertility declines—in some countries artificially high ratios of males to females • Feminization of work force with more women’s education • Effects of neoliberal macroeconomic policies (liberalization, deregulation of markets) • Cross-border worker migration • Increasing conflicts and peace building (UNRISD)

  10. Comparative Masculinities and Femininities • Emphasis on women ignores role of men as men with differences to each other as much as to women • Comparative study of what it means to be male/female delineates ideal types/kinds of masculinities and femininities that derive from different social contexts. • Examples—effects of colonialism on social construction of Indian masculinity; role of sports in defining masculinity in Latin America vs. UK; how does masculinity come to define femininity in drinking cultures? • Can we move beyond the power paradigm?

  11. References • Joni Seager, Penguin Atlas Women in the World • United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World 2005. • WEDO: Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Fact Sheet: “Shortchanging Women: How U.S. Economic Policy Impacts Women Worldwide” get from www.wedo.org) • “Beijing Betrayed: Women Worldwide Report that Governments Have Failed to Turn the Platform into Action” (WEDO, March 2005) • Lois West, Feminist Nationalism; also “The Women’s United Nations Conferences and Feminist Politics” in Prugl/Meyer, Gender in International Organizations 1998.