There is a growing body of work on the nature of women's and feminist movements and their characteristics and concerns. In this section you'll find examples of this work, focusing on the growth and achievements of these movements in different global regions.
Representation and reality: portraits of women's lives in the Western Cape 1948-1976Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, 2007Apartheid’s most fierce attack on the lives of African women was conducted in the Western Cape. This book presents an unusual and regional perspective on the political history of South African women during the period 1948 to 1976.
By drawing on personal narratives, the author examines how social and political processes shaped the lives of women from all political inclinations, and in turn, how these women shaped the organisations and movements that they belonged to. This book provides a nuanced insight into how issues of identity, race, class and culture intersected with politics in their lives.http://www.hsrcpress.ac.za/downloadpdf.php?pdffile=files%2FPDF%2F2194%2F000%20-%20Representation_and_Reality%7E313200795806AM.pdf&downloadfilename=Representation%20%26%20Reality%20-%20Representation%20%26%20Reality%20-%20Entire%20eBook
Positioning in global feminist critical collaboration: self-reflexive talk among Manila-based feministsIsis International, Phillipines, 2006This Isis International-Manila paper contributes to the global feminist self-reflexive process to revitalise feminist politics, strategies for inter-movement collaboration, institutional engagements, and organisational ethics. In a series of discussions among Manila-based regional and international feminists, positioning theory was used to analyse discursively-constructed feminist practice. The idea for this paper, and the decision to use positioning theory, emerged during the first round-table feminist discussion held in Manila (2006) in preparation for the Third Feminist Dialogues.
Positioning theory addresses how individuals or groups position each-other within social interactions, and how these positions, fluid across and within interactions though they may be, consequently limit what they say or do in certain social situations. Following textual analysis and a process of determining consensus, the authors determined that there were five dominant “storylines” that emerged from the discussions: A broader analysis of power - issues raised at the second meeting critiquing that limiting one's view regarding critical collaboration to established institutions was reductionist, and ignored the power of non-institutional entities. This storyline positions feminists as having a right to engage in poststructuralist analysis of power, and a duty to avoid reductionism.
Non-unified global feminist movements - examining the nature of the global feminist movement itself, this storyline focused the multiplicity and diversity within the movement. Commitment to contradictions and contextualised moments - participants noted that on many issues, such as prostitution, feminists will have to learn to accept each-other's right to a diversity of opinions, and the fact that agreement will not always be met. To do otherwise is regarded as masculine politics. Commitment to temporal agreements and short-term agenda - again coming from a position of asserting the right to diversity, the strategy of short-term collaboration on specific agendas was suggested, as part of a perceived duty to bridge differences in a way that can progress the wider movement. Commitment to bottom lines - balancing the prior emphasis on difference, the final storyline is most comfortable with stability, centered on ideas of long-term commitment and shared values. This storyline positions feminists as having a duty to agree a bottom line stand-point that all must adhere to, particularly in critical collaboration with the State. The overall tone of the discussion involved a move away from stability and towards a more fluid notion of feminist strategies. The researchers found positioning theory to be a useful methodological tool for analysis, particularly because the content of the discussion centres around moves towards multiplicity and flexibility within critical collaborations.
Charter of feminist principles for African feministsAfrican Women's Development Forum, 2006The Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists was formed out of a movement building initiative known as The African Feminist Forum(AFF), a regional forum bringing together African feminist activists to deliberate on critical issues affecting the movement for collective action at regional and national levels. The Feminist Charter was adopted at the first convening in 2006. It was formed out of a need for a framework to guide analysis, practice and organising as individuals and as a collective.
The charter has been disseminated as far afield as Latin America and South East Asia in addition to Africa and has been translated into Spanish, Kiswahili (spoken in East Africa) and Wolof (spoken in West Africa). It has been used as a resource for training, awareness raising, mobilisation and constituency building, advocacy, organisational monitoring and review as well as education and policy development. It has been instrumental in shaping attitudes and practice especially within the women’s movement in Africa. This has led to better programming, partnerships and alliances especially on some of the more ‘controversial’ women’s rights issues such as sexual rights.
Neolibs, neocons and gender justice: lessons from global negotiationsUnited Nations [UN] Research Institute for Social Development , 2005
The subject of this United Nations Research Institute for Social Development report concerns the interplay between neoliberal economic thinking and attempts to negotiate a progressive social agenda. It draws on experiences of feminists who participated in negotiations of United Nations conferences during the 1990's, in which they gained much ground for the women's movement due in part to the limited control over state power by religious fundamentalists. This paper argues that neo-conservatism has changed this scenario, both in allowing religious fundamentalists much stronger control of state power and through facilitating the rise of a neoconservative political economy. In doing so, feminists and their allies have found themselves struggling to consolidate gains and make further progress.
The report begins by describing the strategic implications of multiple sites of gender relations. The authors argue that the traditional sites of household subordination and wider, community-based gender relations neglect to sufficiently recognise and analyse a third site: economic class or caste oppressions on grounds of race, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality. The most progressive sections of the women's movement hold a tacit understanding of the need ally with social movements whilst simultaneously promoting for change to gender practice within them.
The penultimate section asks whether the neoconservative era constitutes a clash of civilisations. It identifies external and internal elements that are central to the neoconservative agenda, including imperial strategies of militaristic subordination, corporate exploitation of resources, the further dismantling of the welfare state, and suppression of dissent. Although “the genie is out of the bottle” with regard to progressive social issues appearing in popular culture, the report argues that the neoconservative agenda will never-the-less continue to attack gender equality and LGBT sexuality. It also notes that economically, the ideology finds willing support amongst the corporate North, and that internal opinion of such economic imperialism is not widely divided at the governmental level.
Finally, the authors note that with the coming together of the Christian Right and US Government during the George Bush administration, feminists around the world face a formidable threat. This conflation led to conservative agendas on sexual and reproductive health being pushed at major conferences, and attempts to weaken UN agencies.http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BCCF9/(httpPublications)/15E6EA635E8A955BC12570B500357029?OpenDocument
Making waves: how young women can (and do) transform organisations and movementsAssociation for Women's Rights in Development , 2005This edition of the AWID series Spotlight (March 2005) looks at the challenges facing young feminists as they integrate into women's movements and organisations. While the globalisation of women's movements, as expressed at Beijing in 1995, has brought huge numbers of women from around the world together for the first time, many of these newcomers are frustrated at the ageism and elitism predominant in women's rights, and gender and development. Given the growing challenges facing women, there is an acknowledgement for the need to regenerate; this document illustrates that such intentions need to move beyond rhetoric and actively deal with the emerging generational issues.
It article by outlining why young women should be encouraged into movements. This new generation has often developed in a different context to older feminists, bringing with them valuable skills and ways of thinking that are necessary for movements to reinvent themselves and stay relevant. To be inclusive of younger feminists is also to be consistent with regard to ideals of inclusiveness and power, and can allow movements to build strength and sustainability.
Constraints on young women are then discussed, which largely concern how established feminist leaders and young women perceive each other. For many of the former, young women lack the passion that comes from being part of the collective political actions that pre-date many women's organisations. Yet this ignores the changed context in which they live, something that should be celebrated rather than dismissed – another bone of contention to some, who perceive a lack of recognition of that fact from young feminists. On the other hand, young women express concern over a lack of representation at decision-making level.
A series of six case studies is then presented, showing how different organisations and movements from around the world have managed the integration of young women. One case study shows how the Fiji Women's Rights Movement allocated resources and space to promote the inclusion of young women, allowing them to take the lead in creating their own activities and strengthening the movement as a whole.
The paper concludes that women's movements and organisations must promote inter-generational dialogue, not simply explicitly toward issues of power dynamics, ageism, and etc., but as part of a wider discourse covering shared issues and challenges. Feminists must recognise how the measure of activism is changing (e.g. a greater appreciation for self-care to avoid burnout), that 'experience' is neither synonymous with age nor desirable without diversity, and the need to providing space and opportunity to young women in ways that do not condescend or push-away women.