Lecture outline Nov 21
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Gender and Development: The Social Construction and
Representation of the “Third World Woman” in
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- Gender and development as socially constructed categories. How do they change through
- How do dominant views become dominant and how do they lose at least a part of their
relevance through providing alternative discourses?
- Generalizations about women in the “Third World” as if they are homogenous group of
- How media and general language continue to portray women and gender in a particular way
that prevents us from seeing the diversity around us?
- Looking at and deconstructing the language of development. Development as a socially
constructed idea in different historical periods used to justify actions during the colonial period.
Three dominant representations of a “Third world” woman: What connotations do these
1) Recipients of aid: Welfare Approach
- Women as recipients of welfare or aid.
- Built around notions of scarcity, limited resources, Malthusian idea. The world can’t sustain
such population growth: overpopulations as an obstacle to development, family planning and
social control of fertility
- What is the flaw in the argument that food is scarce?
Technology has allowed overproduction of food
Many countries have negative rates of population growth There are other reasons for having limited access to food
- Women as recipients to aid present a very simplistic vision of problems that exist: the
solution was to provide food aid and nutrition.
- Nestle tried to donate powdered milk so that babies can get healthy, women can be free
from that obligation and they can go out and be more productive; However, they didn’t have
clean water to mix the milk powder with, which led to many deaths in babies. DISASTER! Food
aid that didn’t work!!!
2) As objects to be integrated into a particular socio-economic system, some kind of role to
- People began to think in more sophisticated ways about the role of women in development
- Partly due to the feminist movement which was gaining ground and there were spillages to
the development discourse around women and development
- One particularly influential set of ideas: Ester Boserup, an economist who is starting to look
at development through empirical evidence. She began to look at what women were doing in
various economic settings. She found out women over the world are engaged in constant
productive activities (housework, making craft to sell, getting water), which were invisible and
uncounted. Women who do all of these activities are considered incomeless even though they
contributed so much to societal well-being. Housework, raising a child has great monetary value
and can be seen as a particular category of productive activity.
- Over 600 categories were established in Brazil; it can be overdone
- However the recognition fed into the modernization theory. If women can be productive,
why not formalize that. Instead of women working at home, why don’t we put them in factories?
Place children in school, so that mothers can be productive and contribute to the GDP
- Women are being portrayed as being integrated into the economic system. They are units
that can be counted in the economic system.
- Women are not recipients anymore, but contributors to GDP
- Move women from traditional role in household to modern economic roles
- Move from rural to urban environments because there isn’t enough work in the rural areas
- Documentary: Manufactured landscape: Enormous factories where to walk the factory floor
would take you half an hour, and where people are doing the assembling. - Arguments that women are getting income through working in these factories, and they can
pursue other activities and have some autonomy
- Some argue that the China model seems to be raising a lot of people out of poverty.
- China was one of the only countries that met the MDG’s; there are some good things that
have happened due to these forms of economic activities
- When women are