For example, in the South, married women have for long not been allowed to own property in their own name and their profits from any businesses they ran and their wages belonged to their husband. Yet, if a bourgeois husband falls on hard times, his wife usually does genteel work in the home, such as dressmaking, to earn extra money, or take a temporary or part-time job, usually white-collar.
In addition, when a worker’s wages fall below the level needed to feed his family, as it often does, his wife usually steps in to assist, going out to work for wages in factories or shops or other people’s homes, or turn the home into a small factory and puts everyone, sometimes including the children, to work. Since the decades of the 90s – i. e. the height of post-modernism – more and more (primarily post-colonial) feminist scholars are arguing to avoid universalist claims about “women” and situate feminism in a specific social, economic, cultural, historical and political context for analysis, especially when discussing development issues.
Making women and men equal, therefore, necessitates social and not individual solutions. Countries in the South are mostly post-colonial, developing (economically speaking) countries and they are situated at a juncture where legacies of old traditions and influences of Western ways of life create fusion that continually shapes the structure of the societies. Indeed, development studies have by and large seemed to segregate women to play into certain economic roles while men play a different set of roles.
Their activists have thus focused there energies in transforming institutions to reflect their aspirations i. e. to make sure that women have the same rights as men and the same educational and work opportunities. They concentrated in ensuring that the visible sources of gender discrimination, such as gendered job markets and inequitable wage scales where transformed to a level were women could have opportunities to get into positions of authority in the professions, government, and cultural institutions.
Hence, through there much heralded weapon of choice, that is, the civil rights movement they attacked the established to address gender inequality, especially in the job market. The civil rights movement succeeded in bringing about the anti-discrimination legislation and affirmative action. Affirmative action calls for aggressively seeking out qualified people to redress the gender and ethnic imbalance in work places. That means encouraging men to train for such jobs as nursing, teaching, and secretary, and women for fields like engineering, construction, and police work.
It was initially hoped that, with a diverse pool of qualified applicants, employers can be legally mandated to hire enough different workers to achieve a reasonable balance in their workforce, and to pay them the same and also give an equal chance to advance in their careers. However, although these feminist activists seem to have achieved much of there goals, the fact is that women workers in developing countries in Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa are paid less than men workers, whether they work in factories or do piece work at home.
One of the major reasons cited as a cause of this problem is that western ideas of individualism and economic independence are double-faced. On the one hand, these ideas support the rights of girls and women to an education that will allow them to be economically independent. They are also the source of a concept of universal human rights that can be used to fight subordinating and sometimes physically hurtful tribal practices, such as genital mutilation. On the other hand, Western ideas undercut communal enterprises and traditional reciprocal food production and shared child care.
In conclusion, the two faced nature of current feminist strategies in the South has brought about a bitter sweet finale to there quest. Although many women have entered into formerly all-men workplaces and schools, there has been an increasing awareness of constant and everyday put-downs from bosses and colleagues at work, professors and students in the classroom, fellow organizers in political movements, and worst of all, from boyfriends and husbands at home.
These “micro inequities” of everyday life — being ignored and interrupted, not getting credit for competence or good performance, being passed over for jobs that involve taking charge etc, crystallize into a pattern that insidiously wears women down, hence an anticlimax.
Snigdha Ali: Do We Need a A “Third World” Feminism ? http://www. mukto-mona. com/new_site/mukto-mona/Articles/snigdha_ali/3rd_world_feminism. htm#_ftn1 Johnson-Odim, C. : Third World and Third World Women http://english. emory. edu/Bahri/ThirdWorld. html LORBER, J. The Variety of Feminisms and their Contribution to Gender Equality