Gender and development

For several hundred years, Westerners have been concerned to ‘Improve’ gender relations In non-western societies. What are some of the problems with this project? Gender and development Abstract For hundreds of years, the West has been trying to improve gender relations within non-western societies through helping Third World countries develop. However this development process is firmly rested within the dualistic modernization framework which produces binary oppositions that limit both thought and practice.

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Feminist theories that work volt this modernization discourse are thus inevitably positioned opposite to each other as demonstrated by the Western’ liberal WIDE approach versus the Marxist/structuralism GAD ideology. Hence this essay argues that the very core ideas of modernity and development should be reconsidered and. Nevertheless, to avoid the theoretical black hole of post-modern deconstruction, this essay employs a less radical method of rereading the modernization theory.

Through the practice of rereading, it is clear that modernization theories as well as practices taken by the World Bank are intertwined with muscular understandings of development and as a exult often has a detrimental effect on women socially and economically, non-western societies. This task was subsumed under the master project of development, where the assumption was made that through helping non-western societies develop, I. E. To be more Like the west, gender Inequality would In turn disappear.

This is known as the modernization process in which traditional societies are seen as male-dominated and authoritarian and modern societies as democratic and egalitarian. L This essay focuses on the problems of using modernization theory as the dominant courses of development in improving gender relations since the end of the Second World War. Through the critical lenses of liberal feminists, Marxist/structuralism feminists and post-colonial/postmodern feminists. Four major problems of the Western modernization project becomes prominent.

The first issue, identified by anthropologist and liberal feminist Ester Bosporus, is that development does not automatically benefit women, unlike the predictions made by early modernization theorists. The second criticism came from Marxist/structurally scholars such as Gait Seen and Lourdes Benefit who objected to the unitary category ;women’ and the allure of modernization and liberal feminist theories to take into account the role of women within the family. The third problem was raised by post-colonial/postmodern feminists Like Aha Eng and Chancre Montana.

They accused Western scholars of creating a colonial/neo-colonial discourse that represented women In non-western societies as the undifferentiated ‘other’, oppressed both by their gender and Third the distinct feminist understandings of women and development were all directed at the modernization discourse of development and so far, none of the critiques was able to come up with an alternative understanding of modernity. Therefore, I chose to follow the steps of Did Stefan and Catherine V.

Scott who called for a reassessment of theories of modernization to understand their major themes, how they create hegemonic consensus and how they are put in practice by the World Bank. Through the act of rereading, I seek to redefine gender, modernity and development. This essay understands modernization theory to be the paradigm of the development discourse since neo-liberalism, the current ruling ideology in developmental studies and practices, could be seen as a ‘reformulation of modernization theory despite the ajar difference in their understanding of the role of the state. Terms such as ‘non- Western’, ‘Third World’ and ‘South’ are used interchangeably in this essay as shorthand, rather than implying a monolithic world outside European and American (Western) societies . 4 Modernization theorists view development as a linear, cumulative process in which value differences (traditional versus modern) are central. 5 During the sass and sass, modernization theorists paid very little attention to women’s role in development. Those who did offered blindly optimistic outlooks.

The modernization recess itself and the administration of development policies and projects were perceived as gender-neutral or particularly beneficial to women, who were believed to be more harmed than men by traditional values circumscribing their roles. 6 Advanced technology was seen to release women from the drudgery of housework; birth control was said to give women freedom from involuntary reproduction; and modern values and ideas were expected to increase women’s freedom of action. 7 These views remained unchallenged until 1970 when Ester Bosporus published her groundbreaking book;woman’s Role in Economic Development.

In this book, Bosporus employed an anthropological research method and found variations in sex roles across cultures. She argued that since women are always responsible for reproductive work, the differences in their social status across the globe came from the different sexual division of labor and hence gender is a socially constructed concept. 8 Focusing on rural production, Bosporus concluded that mechanization of agriculture which was equated with economic development had separated women’s labor from the agricultural sector which undermines their social status.

Forced to enter the market economies of the Third World, women were reorganized because they earn less than men as workers and farmers. 9 Poseur’s work inspired a number of supporting case studies on the issue of women’s normalization in development and created a new sub-field of inquiry swoon as Women in Development (WIDE). II Rooted in the liberal tradition, WIDE advocates understood Women’ as a category of essentially similar, rational individuals having rights equal to those of men. Al This led WIDE theorists to demand for women’s women’s subordination and oppression. 2 WIDE focused exclusively on the production aspect of women, recommending agricultural extension and technological training or women to increase their productive capacity. The state is expected to be the major actor in implementing this new agenda and should provide employment opportunities in industry and better access to markets. The WIDE ideology is dominant to this day in mainstream developmental programs initiated by agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations. 13 Nevertheless, it has been criticized for its unitary category Women’ and neglect of women’s role within the family.