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Adadevoh, I. (2011). Globalization and the Question of Women's Empowerment.. PHILICA.COM Article number 220.

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Globalization and the Question of Women’s Empowerment.

Irene Omolola Adadevohunconfirmed user (Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba,, Lagos State University)

Published in humani.philica.com

The essay as  titled: Globalization and the Question of Gender Empowerment, focuses on the myths of empowerment and realities of women’s marginality in the multicultural and international spheres. It confronts in a more holistic manner, the clarification of the wider interfaces between women’s global experiences, cross-cultural gender relations and the consequences of global  policies in engendering equality and equity. A critical review of the pragmatics of gender equality will be embarked upon to examine the problems and prospects of gender empowerment. This review will highlight the inherent problems as manifested most clearly and destructively in the domestication of women, their containment via resourcelessness, social control, violence and the wider structures of gendered tokenistic power structures. Another part of the research will also focus on identifying and redefining the fault lines of primary assumptions on globalization that suggest that it is part of a reconfiguring and rethinking of contemporary social theory and politics that have inevitably assumed the trajectories of hegemonic masculinity, sexist imagery and patrimonial patriarchal dominance (Kofman 1996) as directing principles. In short, the research theoretically situates within specified global  space the questions of evolving gender gaps and the integrative / inclusive strategies earmarked to bridge them. 

Article body

Globalization and the Question of Women's Empowerment.



Irene Omolola Adadevoh,

Dept of Philosophy

Faculty of Arts

Adekunle Ajasin University






Although women are increasingly active in community support systems, gender disparities persist in public positions at all levels: local, national, regional and global. In only 16 countries in the world is women's representation in national parliaments above 25 per cent. On average, they accounted for 11       per cent of parliamentarians worldwide in 1999, compared with 9 per cent in 1987. Despite the fact that the majority of the world's poor are women and girls, poverty reduction strategies insufficiently address the differential impact of poverty by gender and inadequately target gender equality as a core objective. Whereas women's contributions to the global economy are growing rapidly, women's labour remains undervalued and under-counted in national accounts; and data disaggregated by gender are still poorly developed.(United Nations Development  Network (UNDP) http://www.undp.org)


The essay as  titled: Globalization and the Question of Gender Empowerment, focuses on the myths of empowerment and realities of women's marginality in the multicultural and international spheres. It confronts in a more holistic manner, the clarification of the wider interfaces between women's global experiences, cross-cultural gender relations and the consequences of global  policies in engendering equality and equity. A critical review of the pragmatics of gender equality will be embarked upon to examine the problems and prospects of gender empowerment. This review will highlight the inherent problems as manifested most clearly and destructively in the domestication of women, their containment via resourcelessness, social control, violence and the wider structures of gendered tokenistic power structures. Another part of the research will also focus on identifying and redefining the fault lines of primary assumptions on globalization that suggest that it is part of a reconfiguring and rethinking of contemporary social theory and politics that have inevitably assumed the trajectories of hegemonic masculinity, sexist imagery and patrimonial patriarchal dominance (Kofman 1996) as directing principles. In short, the research theoretically situates within specified global  space the questions of evolving gender gaps and the integrative / inclusive strategies earmarked to bridge them.


Thematic and Problematic Issues in Global Integrative Strategies for Gender Empowerment: United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Paradigm.


The most common debate revolving round the notion of gender empowerment and global integrative space is centrally focused on the notion of gender empowerment development goals. According to the UNDP (United Nations Development  Network (UNDP) http://www.undp.org)

the question of why gender matters to the MDGs (The Millennium Development Goals) are integrated within a set of  goals and targets for extending the benefits of  globalization to all people especially the world's under-privileged citizens. The imperative of the development strategies in most developing countries round the world addresses the problem of gender inequality as it constitutes a major obstacle to meeting most sustainable and viable development strategies. In fact, achieving any positive development goals will be impossible without bridging the gaps between women and men in terms of capacities, access to resources and opportunities, and vulnerability to violence and conflict. In attaining global development and empowerment integration there is an urge for gender-sensitivity which makes gender experts and advocates suggesting several concrete ways to make such integrative implementation possible. These       suggestions include ensuring universal access to health services, eliminating gender       inequality in access to assets and employment. women's empowerment, gender equality strategy,        through equal opportunity employment, political empowerment through democratic governance         economic empowerment through poverty reduction, social security by prevention of crisis, recovery  of environment and energy, mitigation of HIV/AIDS.


Given these set goals of development strategies, several global women's movements have emerged as reputable networks of agencies advocating for women and gender equality in all social institutions. Various international organizations such as: UNDP supports Women's professional bodies and institutional associations to enhance gender equity and equality. The general hypothesis of these professional bodies and institutional associations is that empowerment of both men and women and achieving gender equality   permeates every area of any development plan, policies, programmes, investments since development and empowerment ploys are about people.   Gender equality and women's empowerment therefore pervades all aspects of human rights advocacy that lie at the basis of development aims and objectives.


UNDP particularly reports the tokenistic impact of gender incongruity in the view that despite the progress that has been made, six out of ten of world's   under-privileged people are still women and girls, less than 16 percent of the world's parliamentarians are women, two thirds of all children shut outside the school gates are girls and, both in times of armed conflict and behind closed doors at home, women are still systematically subjected to violence. That is why UNDP amongst many other international bodies seeks to integrate gender equality and women's empowerment into major economic, political, social, military, and environmental areas of work. These areas address the problems engendered by poverty, undemocratic governance, crisis incursions prevention and recovery, and environment and sustainable development. Most NGO's and International organizations seek to tackle these issues of development of rural  livelihoods, mitigation of vulnerabilities of migrant women under unsafe conditions, sexual exploitation, violence, HIV infection,  job segregation, democratic god-fatherism, economic insecurity & deprivation of rights, feminized poverty,  gender-based violence, gender injustice and unrest, political participatory exclusions.   It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the ability of nations to achieve their human development goals hinges largely on the quality of governance. As such, reputable international organizations have been at the forefront of the growing international consensus that good governance and sustainable human development are indivisible and that developing the capacity for good   governance can be - and should be the primary means to eliminate all forms of gender incongruities. UNDP particularly agitated for a sort of gender mainstreaming as an institutional and cultural   transformation process with a bid to eliminating gender biases in national and international development frameworks and paradigms; incorporating gender awareness into policies, programmes and institutional reforms; involving men to end gender inequality; and developing gender sensitive tools to monitor progress and ensure accountability. 


Although the UNDP astoundingly reports about profound changes in the status and role of women over the past two decades. This report explains the token narrowing of gender gaps and entrenchment of gender empowerment and significant participatory rights in education, health, labor force, politics, family, and economic spheres. Yet these potential participatory rights and empowerment at these various levels are demonstrable of slow and uneven progress which in the long run makes piteous the gruesome effects of basic inequalities in access to institutional resources and decision-making structures. (United Nations Development Network (UNDP) http://www.undp.org)



The question of how far women's movements come in the world can only be comparatively assessed in a multicultural alliance perspective vis-à-vis the salient quest for women's rights and gender equality round the globe. So far many prospects and achievements are in place by diverse key actors in the various movements. However there are also many barriers and challenges that confronted gender rights advocates both in the past as well as presently. This research theoretically examines the problems and prospects of such movements by rethinking the opportunities for the movement in engendering advancement of women's rights and gender equality.  In doing this, the research focuses on the reality of women and gender marginality in the scheme of empowerment. It confronts in a more holistic manner, the clarification of the wider interfaces between women's experiences in Africa, cross-cultural gender relations and the consequences of globalized segregationist policies. It explains that the rituals of empowerment should be made to transcend mere formalistic and ceremonial procedural gambit of hypocritical inclusion. This gambit manifests most clearly and destructively in the domestication of women, their containment via resourcelessness, social control, violence and the wider structures of gendered power (Pettman 1996:191). This paper focuses on identifying and redefining the fault lines of primary assumptions on empowerment that suggest that it is part of a reconfiguring and rethinking of contemporary social theory and politics (Kellner, 1998:24) that have inevitably assumed the trajectories of hegemonic masculinity, sexist imagery and patrimonial patriarchal dominance (Kofman 1996) as directing principles.


Gender Equality and the Question of Global Inclusion and Exclusion.

The problem of inclusion and exclusion in gender politics insinuates that we seriously doubt the view that we now truly live in an egalitarian world of dense and ever increasing inter- and transnational political, economic and cultural independence (Axtmann 1998).  Especially, when we consider that this inclusion by interconnectedness or exclusion by dis-connectedness amongst global national and human contestants have not brought about an enduring and more systematic socioeconomic and cultural inclusion of women into the scheme of things. This a tragedy of dual regressive marginality because the politics of inclusion is only inclusive of world powers while that of exclusion disconnects those blocs that are rated as inferior and dependent participants. The reality of non-belonging, marginality and inequality of women are critical contributors to stereotyping myths and the sustenance of the dimensions of transnational and globalized segregationist policies. This has led to the problematic of women's security in Africa that are inextricably linked to women's stereotypical traditional roles, which like job descriptions define their membership in the community, by requiring them to act in certain ways.(Adadevoh 2000) Feminist theory in which security can only be fully understood by examining gendered structures of inequality facilitates an analysis of security differences by sex (Caprioli 2004:412). Traditionally the woman in Africa functions as a mother, wife and co-wife. Her psyche is affected by the impact of colonial domination as well as male chauvinism, polygamy, dependence and inferiority complex. She is usually contemplated in the sense of dominated, disadvantaged, exploited and excluded (Uko 1996:4-5).

The fact that women are objectified and regarded as property, or even as inextricable attachments to serve un-protected domestic purposes, generated the national and global security dilemma, and its ensuing anarchic constitution which cannot itself be (re)solved through the entrenchment of already pre-established prudential or precautionary norms and institutions. The failure of hitherto existing institutional frameworks compounds the dilemma. Thus we ought to determine the extent to which discourses on sexual identities and global security take into account the social behavior of the sexes in the light of the maintenance of the status of masculinized securities and to examine the conditions for the affirmation of security, justice and equity for women within a genuinely humane and dignifying global order. Against the above background, we must establish the focus of our struggle the establishment of a logical basis for the idea of woman's emancipation and liberation (Alaya 1977:261). The challenge of our work is therefore, to determine the methodological conditions for raising woman from a state of degradation, inequality, poverty and vassalage, to her proper place in the scale of existence, where, in the dignity of independence, she may discharge the duties and enjoy the happiness of a rational being.

Institutional Hegemony as Conceptual and Empirical Tools for Sustainable Empowerment.


The conceptual and empirical problems of hegemony comes to play in women and  gender politics of dominance, because it marks out a sort of influence and control of power. To support this the conceptualization of hegemony as a gender model of influence and conformity to such influence, Gramsci (1995:97) proposes the idea of hegemony in order to describe the hidden and coercive power of an entity such as a state over other elements. Thus hegemony in global politics wields  influence on the members of a class to conform to the principles and act of the influential class.  For Callinicos (199:213 - 214) the key feature of hegemony is the rule of the dominant group through the securing of consent and coercive imposition of their will using  intellectual, moral, economic  and political instruments such as, state power, churches and schools, as disseminating agents of their dominant ideologies. For Sklair (1992: 107 - 108) the most important  economic, political and cultural-ideological goods, peoples and nations circulating in the globe are under one hegemonic control or the other. The hegemony can be seen as a representative individual, organization, state or class whose dominant interests prevail in the struggle for resources and significant authority. Slater (1996:275) argues that hegemony operates in time-space, which provides the battle ground between the superior and the inferior. In a significant sense, hegemony symbolizes power play where superiority is proved in victory and the story of progress is told by the victors. For Slater, this idea is represented in Foucault's distinction between the ‘power to; ad the ‘power over', which is expressed concretely in the history of progress and modernity through Western incursions and ruptures of non-Western spaces. With reference to less developed continents and peoples, hegemony is seen in the fact that are such groups are encapsulated as ex-colonial subjects, such that their actions are mediated and imposed upon by the persistence of neocolonialism arising from the continued intrusion of Europe. The aim of this intrusion when made applicable to gender and African situation is to reproduce the perpetuation of Africa's and womens' subordinate status in the contemporary world. (Serequeberhan 1994:2021). Thus hegemony deals with power relations existing in time and space, and of which Africa and women are currently in the marginal postion.


The marginality in women and gender dimensions of hegemony cast curious doubts on the conception  of  homogeneity and convergent alliance between peoples and cultures round the world. Leaman (1998:11) affirms ironically the possibility of the homogenization of the world's cultures. For him, one of the likely effects of the increasing homogenization of the world's culture is the widening of the segregationist development policy.  For example, the  Western do not have the knowledge of the traditions of development from the East, especially Japan, China and India. As the world is tilted towards cultural unification, it is difficult to understand how different models of development will be amalgamated,  such that the development and creativity of the East will be grafted into that of the  West. This is problematic because there are diverse forms of cultural exclusivity and independence as demonstrable by the world's multicultural political formation. Although it is indisputable that when one culture interacts with another, new possibilities become evident, and fresh life is breathed into both cultures. However where a culture maintains an assimilative posture then there is a huge problem of association.  Corroborating this view those who wish to acquire some understanding of gender cultural diversity  and its history will  have to be encouraged to view themselves as part of a world of ideas, not as members of the only part of the world which appears to have produced the ‘unalterable' cultural ideas. (Leaman 1998:12-13).  Thus taking a cue from Schlick's (1964:646) ideational analysis, it seems that the  question of gender unification process  will be addressed when the traditions, which remain in a current state of marginalization meet up with the progresses of  the erstwhile affirmed dominant traditions.


Outlaw (187:10) points out that there is a difference between what as has been characterized by the dominant figures in the dominant tradition throughout its Western history. The latter refers to "an enterprise more critically self conscious of its own historicity in ways that inform its practices and makes it possible to identify other discursive modalities and traditions as appropriates instances of a refined notion of what makes up the gender world, especially the non-European cultures". This simply means that the existing dominant and marginal spheres of gender intersections, are locked in conflict for influence and direction. In other words,  the present problem of  the gender politics of dominance had always been the ‘philosophy of the centre' in which dichotomies are formed and in which the power to designates the periphery and frames it as such remains the exclusive prerogative of a few.  (Serequeberhan 1990:5) In the light of this, Diop, (1997:726) restates the need to redefine the image of a modern Africa which in its actions in reconciled with its past and preparing or its future. For Serequeberhan (1994:37) the situation calls for an autochthonous overcoming of the indigence of our indigenous political and historical existence-created and perpetuated by European colonialism and neo-colonialism. In the struggle for  significant inclusion in the gender unification process, the most fundamental task is to establish the conditions for ‘a counter-hegemonic process that will diminish the current trend of marginality and segregation which beset the underprivileged. ((Ben 1985, Kofman, (1996:214).

Gender,  Women and the Sophism of  Segregationist Ritual of Empowerment. 


Having highlighted the general quagmire bedeviling empowerment as that of the composition of its conceptual and empirical integration policies. It is pertinent to note that this  problem subsists more vivaciously in the  error of gender intersections that argues from a property of parts of a whole to a property of the whole, without addressing the question of difference in human relations round the world. (Brah, 1992) For example, that the current world powers have war- protective inducement does not mean that gender transforming intersection plans of other allied nations should be.(Allen 1996)  This is because the cultural and security relativity of the parts of the world order cannot always be transferred to the entire world just as the rights of men cannot be attributed as representing those of womens' (Arnaud et al !990).against this backdrop, global feminism is restricted to the theoretical and pragmatic problems of material and human resources,  class and gender dichotomies which makes up the integral social, political  and economic crises that generally besets the different human races in world politics . (Andersen, et al (1995) . In this wise, global feminism is and has been both a set of ideas and social movement, in response to the damaging and destructive aspects of human institutions and social relationships that unnecessarily engenders subordination of people. (Lovenduski: 1986:6,  Grimshaw: 1986:21).   Another  problem which global feminism raises against the segregationist policies of the world powers is based on the genetic sophistry. This points to the  error of drawing an inappropriate conclusion about the viability or non viability of a people from the geographical and sexual origin of that people.


The  point being made here is that  such etymological   problem often draws attention to  the gallery problem that uses appeal to popular sentiments and allegiance to specific world power to support  their dominance of other blocs within the world order.  Global feminism as an agitation against segregationist philosophy therefore embodies all set of ideas espoused by a number of people-women and men- to form a movement whose goal is to attain the full equality of all peoples in terms of economic, political and civil rights (Macridis 1989: 727).   To this end, global feminism as an integrative postulate, seeks measures to ensure equitable utilization of the peoples, that makes up the global human resources, and centers more on a sociable, economic development of human potentials in order to boost an all inclusive gender politics. In this connection, there is the need to argue against the segregation of the world geographical order into disparaging dichotomies because such  unequal distinction reinforces the use of appeal to force, sanction, authority and in many times to aids, grants and relief programs to support the  underprivileged peoples' participatory rights within the gender integrative mechanism . contextualizing this in gender spheres,  the very first point worthy of note,  is the fact that women and gender segregation  poses diverse problems to the  development of a people, class, status and power  in international relations (Bendix and Martin:1967). This problem is even more pronounced  from the  historic perspectives, which elicits a form of dichotomy in paradigms  of development and underdevelopment in the gender world. Such hegemonic dichotomies poses a puzzled concept of development which mars optimism of integration of both sexes with the obstruction by  appeals engendered by force,  authority,  aids, grants and relief programs.( Agazzi :1993). What this means in effect is that in the securing the dominant group, there is always a propensity to politicizing  security. A process by which security is  either made factional and  protective of the people that hold the reins of leadership powers. (Alison, 2004)


Round the world, the  reality of marginality in the scheme of empowerment is more rampant especially when world politics is based on  dominance, superpower, leadership exploitations etc. Power or influence derived from such  authority is a kind that undermines the use of egalitarian empowerment strategy. This is because by virtue of the institutional significant office, there is a fallible tendency of steering hegemony toward a presumptive allegiance to such gender dominance that may accompany it. Though a form of marginality as steered from a peoples gender authority can be a reasonable way of sanction,  however, if pressed too hard in a power play or portrayed as a better justification for a sanction  than the evidence warrants, it can become problematic. It should be noted,  that  leadership based on the relevance of a  peoples gender recognition are widely  accepted as legitimate and sound, but then its hegemonic hold  can  under the many other situations be strongly condemned on some historical and  professional grounds as inherently misleading. The global feminist climate of opinion is to think of such hegemony as acceptable in some cases,  subject to the fact that they are not misused by sophistical world powers.

 In our bid to confront and clarify the wider interfaces between cultural  experiences in Africa, cross-cultural gender relations and the consequences of this to a people's claim to authority we also noted the  slippery slope hegemonic problem. This form of sloppy segregation  counsels against some contemplated action for inaction on the ground that once taken, it will be a first step in a sequence of event that will be difficult to resist and will (or may or must) lead to some dangerous (or undesirable or disastrous) outcome in the end.  For example  if a specific world order allows the withdrawal of  international relations with a specific nation in not too clarified terms then through withdrawal , the integrative policy of gender order can vitiate such respect for participatory sovereignty.  By this it is meant that gender order will eventually wind up with a totalitarian state where conformist gender order is endorsed and where politically anthitethical gender zones are routinely ostracized. While some slippery slope gender sanctions can be reasonable, but they should not be put forward in an exaggerated way, supported with insufficient evidence or used as a scare tactic. (Audi, 1975).In other words,  it is clear that world relevance manifests most clearly and destructively in the dominion exerted over others and their containment via resourcelessness, social control, violence and the wider structures of gendered power and control (Pettman 1996:191).


The most puzzling development obstacle to global feminism stems from the connections and interconnections that hedges around social interactions and the strong chord of humanistic recession that tends to underscore the development of the human and international relations.  This problematic as analyzed in this discourse subsist in the fact that the crisis of global feminism can be linked with the crisis of personality and sexuality amongst individuals, groups and nations. And more also by the correlative implication that today the globe is in throes of  deepening crisis in terms of  degradation of work, masculinized  labor and monopoly capital, which has brought unprecedented, misery and complacency to the female sex in contradistinction to the male sex. (Braverman:1974) The major problem  of segregation,  confronting gender development consists of the imperative to restore with respect to what people had lost in sexual and international relations, particularly in exercising or not exercising the autonomy of their will, the freedom of their conscience and equality for all in world politics.  And more specifically,  to ensure just and fair relations between peoples in  a equitable process that does not categorize global development along the patterns of social upheavals with respect to economic, institutional and political disruptions as well as ethical, spiritual and ecological quagmire about the ‘whole' of global nations and the part of each person within the integral whole (Dower: 1998:124). In view of this, gender segregation as restricted to the theoretical and pragmatic problems of material and human resources,  class and gender dichotomies should be restructured to enable integral social and economic integration for the betterment of  humanity. (Andersen, et al (1995).  To this end, global feminism as an integrative postulate, seeks measures to ensure equitable utilization of the sexes, that makes up the global human resources. Its conceptualization includes effective management of all resources and populations in pursuance of gender development. Gender in the integrative context refers to the social, political  as well as economic relationship between peoples. In view of this, gender development, specifically highlights the various modalities through which the human beings are not  alienated from their cultural identity,  productive activity, social value, economic product, other social  potentials.(Marx:1967:72). This means that gender development is segregational when  its operational processes are mapped by constraints of geographical recession and in which the people affected become increasingly aware that they are receding. (Waters: 1995:3)


This segregational recession become more vivid when, it revolves round the taking of responsibility by a group of human being for the transformation of economic, political, social and cultural living conditions becomes elusive. The point we make here is that the idea of  global feminism is based on gender integrative and inclusive policy, which  can be  used increasingly  to enhance the  productivity and protection of human race and hence their valuation.  Global feminism therefore seeks to raise the stock of human worth by fostering viable leadership structures,  enduring professionalism and secured gender environment necessary for human development.  (Hogendorn: 1996:310).


However gender segregation is often marked by profiteering dilemmas and image boosting problems posed by excessive appropriation of human labor, social ostracism of subordinate nations, unhealthy industrial competition,  trade conflict and ‘protective' warfare which consequently destroys the development of cooperative relationships between peoples. This reason for this impression is because  the above crises situations, makes development reified by privileged peoples and advantaged nations. This means that analysis of gender development from the consensus of the nations is a kind that appeals to the common consent of mankind to support impression which dictates the pace of gender development . (Audi, 1975)  Consensus of this sort  goes a long way to  reinforce an urgent need for gender development  re-mapping  by national and world leaders.(Peterson:1998). Buttressing this imperative for re-mapping gender  development, Bertsch maintained that when leadership hegemony does not raise the level of human dignity, the consequence is that the people are faced with  un-equitable distribution of goods, services, and values of life. Gender politics must therefore deal with this inequality and find ways to redistribute the world's wealth and power more equitably, both across national boundaries and within diverse block sections of the world populace  countries. (Bertsch et al: 1991:487-488).  This call for a form of gender appraisal based on the principle of interdependence of nations and interactions between the sexes. Global feminism,  therefore considers the importance of raising gender development from universal disparaging domestication for the female sex and socio-economic and political intrusion on the sovereignty of the less developed countries. (Waters: 1995:3). However since  people are the most important resources required to bring about development, the point remains that when large number of people suffer hardship and deprivation because of inadequate opportunities in both national and international policies, whatever level of development is achieved becomes of questionable value.


      Milberg (1991) states that the question whether ‘empowerment' can be egalitarian and humanitarian given the fact of marginality, and the  tendencies by privileged people and nations to maximize prestige, honor, economic   profit, productivity and presage of power remains doubtful? . In relation with this,  the pedagogy  of gender specified oppression calls for  redress on the social wrongs inflicted upon the ‘marginalized sex' such as poverty, illiteracy, exploitation and powerlessness. According to  Macridis,  (1989: 292), this had in most situations been the basis for constraints encountered in the vagaries of division and deprival of labor between the sexes. Jaggar,  (1983: 11) advocates for development that integrates conceptually the category of racial or ethnic identities with the categories of gender and class and leadership structures. Supporting Jaggar,  Lewis writes that gender segregationist policy makes it  open to men to debate whether leadership rank is dominated by men and whether progress is good for men or not should be regarded as sexist. In similar vein, for women to debate the desirability of any from of social  growth is to debate whether women should have the chance to cease to be beasts of burden and to join the human race (Lewis as quoted by Hogendorn 1996:20). This indicate that the frustrations being encountered in the fragmented  functionalism ascribed to people's social being and existence will hamper  cultural harmony if it engenders non uniform and inequitable gender development. (Chattopadhyaya :1993). The need to vitiate gender segregation is even made more necessary because we live in an era of ever increasing gender  interconnectedness of peoples, places, capitals, goods and services. (Axtmann 1998:2)  that envisions human networks of interaction by a singular logic of interdependent  hegemony over the  logic of independent or isolationist hegemony, (Mann 1986:204-205). This means that for there to be a  from of transformation of consciousness and identity, there should be a realization that we are all global citizens, who are as much concerned about the world as about our own selves, countries, or local neighborhoods. (Batou, 1991, Hogendorn: 1996:310).


It  is also  most often opined in many gender development theories that the dignity of human endeavour depends on quality of their training, education, experience, exposure and professionalism (Stevenson 1978,  Norris, 1987:71). Pettman, (1998) and Hutchful (1991) observed that the problems of gender and gender development  emanates from the subordination of human resource to material resource as evident in a commodity society. Omoregbe  (1991, 151) further explains that this kind of equivocation fallaciously stems inferentially from  commitment to materialism, which regarded material nature as primary in the dialectical transition of the gendered world power structure. The essence of this materialistic interpretation was to convey the fact that unchecked materialism  poses a threat to the rational laws of human relations, that is the laws of gender unity both of the external world and of human thought. (Engels 1972:11).


Meszaros,  (1986:72) and Ball, (1979: 785-789) highlighted a misconceived social consciousness of human dignity and responsibility both in national and international realms of human relations as they posit that the equation of human development with crass materialism is inimical to gender integration of men and women and nation states. Shutt  (1998) maintained that analysis based on material possession and acquisition depicts the whole history of mankind as history of sex and  class struggles, contests between the  exploiting and the exploited,  the ruling and the oppressed classes. Consequently, resulting in undemocratic power chasms between nations in international relations. (Bowles, et al: 1990).  To avert the disparity in gender development,  value and power should be initially culturally theorized and its beneficial consequence should be synthetically harmonized to accommodate its multicultural perspectives no t only to gender unification but also to women's liberation..  (Reed, 1975). Thus the  idea  of  gender development  though  culturally and socially contextualized yet possesses a multicultural blend of salient elements with  respect to other people's legitimate knowledge, gender relations, honor  and prestige systems.


It is against this backdrop of cultural and overlapping cultural relevance that the error of biological explanation that celebrates maleness and expose the social construction of binary male (Peterson 1998:13) are deconstructed. As a matter of fact, Hartmann, (1979: 28-29) is of the view that only in a gender segregationist context does it make sense to exhibit emotional or irrational gender development schism. In similar vein,  the question of  "global feminism" or "de-masculinization of globalization" are by products of vehement oppositions to the ‘patriarchal command rule' or ‘patriarchal sovereignty'.(William 1998).   For unification purpose, the concept or context that generate notions like  ‘undermined sex' and  ‘dominant sex' will have to be deconstructed as segregationist trajectories of hegemonic masculinity, sexist imagery and patrimonial patriarchal dominance.


The Masculinization of Empowerment Strategies and the Problems of Hegemonic Sexist Imagery.


In masculinizing empowerment there is often the problem of posed by neglecting   qualifications. This occurs where hegemony in world leadership structure is on the assumption of the inevitability of patriarchy (Goldberg, 1979).  Especially when such assumption is  based on who wields the greatest power and influence in world politics and subjecting those who do not wield such power to its laid down principles. (Goldstein, 1999)  One way of understanding  the masculinization of empowerment is arguing from the versatility of patrimonial  patriarchal dominance stance while overlooking or suppressing legitimate exceptions to its sexist imagery. The problem of masculinization of empowerment is visible in what Kellner (1998:24)  identifies  and redefines as the fault lines of primary assumptions on empowerment that suggest that it is part of a reconfiguring and rethinking of contemporary social theory and politics  that have inevitably assumed the trajectories of hegemonic masculinity, sexist imagery and patrimonial patriarchal dominance as directing principles (Kofman 1996) .  These trajectories become more problematic when it focuses on gender segregated roles and functions. 


In its hegemonic plot, empowerment is replete with male dominated culture that portrays disempowerment, oppression and subordination of women. The major crises of objectification and commoditization of women elicits philosophical investigation of the problem of equivocation of humanity with crass materialism.(Gordon 1996) This is because the notions of inferiority, oppression, exploitation and subjection is central to the entrenchment of social alienation and insecurity. In view of this, global feminism in our opinion should address the emotional, intellectual, spiritual fulfillment and security of both sexes. (Compton;1995). Hence,  global feminism should be convergent on social transformation  that seeks for inclusive modality to arrest any from of segregation on sexual basis (Jackson, et al 1993:107-8). Global feminist transformation shoul also make available cognitive reform measure to erode oppression, development negligence  and social obscurity as enforced by gender disparity (Rowbotham:1973).


Social and political obscurity in gender and patriarchal stratification is fashioned in line with a form of  subjugation principle that  expects conformity from the under privileged women to the whims and caprices of their privileged male counterpart. (Davin:1979,  Lewis:1980).  The Africa Research Bulletin (2000) construes such conformity as conflict ridden because it creates a class distinction in both international and sexual relations. Thus is a need remapping in the context of empowerment of the masculine hegemonic order in sexual politics. This is because it lacks equitable medium of  gender protection because it is  immersed in a  sexist imagery of  chauvinistic gender leadership structure. (Pellerin 1998)  The point we make therefore is that patriarchal hegemony in global sphere is directly a form of gender insecurity in so far as it is men who dominates the world politics (O'Brien 1995). Moreover, whenever  patriarchal hegemony enhances inhibition, violence or segregation, then there is no doubt that the  presence of violence, threat and hatred against women tends to view masculine hegemony in predominantly estrangement of the needs and wants of the adjudged under class sex. (Lodge, 1995)   This view signifies that segregation as enforced by the custodian of world leadership structures is replete with hegemonic creation of egocentric dominance which negates altruistic group selection between peoples. (Alexander; 1979).  Borgia's (1978; 27) buttresses this point with the affirmation that the construction of patriarchal domination deconstruct the  co-operative and integrative plot of gender order. (Dawkins; 1976). Accordingly, gender segregation is consequential in  patriarchal hegemonic stereotype, and  sexist imagery. (Havelock:1927, Jeffreys:1985: 105-6). According to   Lips, (1993: 4) patriarchal social categories of hegemonic associations are mapped virtually by every domain of human experience with presumptions about sexual neutrality and difference. (Ben, 1985:212, Sunstein; 1995:5).  Central to the analysis of patriarchal hegemony therefore, is the  insights it draws to the phenomenon that personifies leadership functions.  By virtue of this personification, masculine hegemonic roles are seen as reasons for social and sexual functions. (Appelbaum; 1999:270). In this construct,  one wonders how an institutional function is tied to the person and charisma of the leader involved. This means that  patriarchy  institutionalize norms and cultural  attitudes,  that are not neutral and  that are relative in a genetic personality closure. For example, it is seen as a sexist imagery to attribute the military prowess  as chaperoned by a female minister of security to her male counterpart by the spurious fact of hegemonic leadership. This point being made here is that patriarchal hegemony raises an argument against the woman. Though in gender politics, leadership character can be a legitimate issue.  however, genetic ones  are  commonly  used fallaciously in attacking ones sexuality unfairly. Another variant to genetic fallacy is the "poisoning the well" type of ad homonym argument , where by prejudice of masculine hegemony no regard is demonstrated for professional truth. This sort of attribution entrench development of the stereotypical division of values into autonomous ordering that suits and specifies ‘non-coordinate  relationships' between each sex either locally or globally. It also raises questions on the cultural and historical reinforcement  of male configured development landscape. McLennan's (1996:7-10) states that "the economic, political and spiritual world that we inhabit is ruled by such configured violation of other sex's right and freedom.  The disparity in terms of  the male configured development landscape hinges on the violation of equality in relation to political, economic, legal or social equality between the sexes. Okin (1979:277), also pointed out that  many social systems of power relations are so "extensively based on inequalities that any aspect of inequality jeopardizes the entire structure". Perhaps the most intriguing central problem of this masculinized hegemony is its tyranny of inequality, and the relegation of the other sex to dependency.


In view of the group that is  dominated, marginalized and subordinated, the central feature in the quest for redressing hegemony goes beyond  survival to concerns for the peace and progress of individuals, groups within the  society. This  idea operates on the principles of justice which  according to Goldstein (1999:430) raises a contention on the need for gender equity  against modes of ostracism. Each context of patriarchal hegemony that legitimizes masculine authority makes gender prejudice a quagmire for the female person (Lips; 1993:387, Lodge; 1995:316). Take the instances of the abuse and perversion of social,  economic and political masculine hegemony such as evident in the ordering of private property by the rule of masculine primogeniture. The argument of global feminism against the rule of primogeniture is that it  appeals to a threat of being treated as cultural non conformists or to fear of social ostracism in order to support a masculine hegemony or to intimidate a respondent into accepting it. These fears and threats are inherently fallacious, because appeals to threatening or fearsome sanctions are failures of critical approach to gender and social.  But because these threats and fears are powerful in eliciting emotions, they are often used persuasively as sophistical tactics to avoid fulfilling the proper requirements of a burden of proof of capability and competence.(Audi, 1975) .


Global feminism can therefore be used to deduce the error of correlation in world and human relation   For example, there might be a genuine correlation between the masculine dominance of the world politics and that of domestic arena.   But it would be an error to conclude, on the basis of such quantitative disparity that leadership should be automatically masculine. The presence of some female leaders though weak in quantity yet comes to play a significant role when the evidential strength of the dominating correlation is not exaggerated as causal evidence.  The apparent gender protective and integrative devices  are due to other factors that have not been given the significance status it demands.


Rethinking Global Feminism and the Insecurity of Women's  Empowerment.


The problem of women's insecurity in this essay is in relation to theorizing the world geo politics in accordance with patriarchal hegemony.(Walby 1990) First given the imperative of global feminism to argue for coordinate relations between the sexes, the convolution of women's insecurity  is dual faceted. This is because masculine hegemony subjects the female sex to a kind of incomprehensible security which anecdotally shows their pedagogic thralldom. This thralldom arise because  the  extent of  professional or social proficiency and success by the female person is often desensitized by androcentric prejudices. Many female patriarchal acolytes often excel as a result of masculine privileges in designated sphere in which many other women meet with uncivilized segregation. These masculine hegemony positions women in under-privileged and underclass positions.


On the other hand where  patriarchal privileges are not visibly clear the convolutions of women's insecurity is couched in a social placement that generates makes them insignificant.  The prevalence of this in gender context is that womens' local pool of resource are seen as inessential. This means that the problems of prevention from consolidating or feminizing their struggles with national or global  priorities, forces some women to remain spontaneously auxiliary (Sayigh:1984:124). Against this backdrop, global feminism explicates the convolutions of women's insecurity in connection with the local, national and international relegation of their roles and the social thralldom of their plight. Thus the convolutions of women's security is demonstrable by spouse battering, rape/pedophilia, incest, female genital mutilation, horrific widowhood rites, forced marriages All of which are  indications that brute and unchecked domestic masculine  hegemony  poses diverse   problems for leadership,  security,  justice, and equity. (Lips; 1993:388). These crises also undermine the ordering of a global bid for communal alliance and international tolerance between peoples. (Mc Lennan; 1996). Undoubtedly, the disadvantages of patriarchal hegemonic culture attempts to prescribe pseudo-projection of error of consensus on masculine authority on the female sex.  And in this construct,  it projects the female sex as vacillating between the extraneous performance paradigm as well as being affected by the traditional anti female bias that grants them only an assimilative mode of gender integration. Given this need for a  de-masculinization of gender politics, development and security programs,  Mazey (1988), argued for  cooperation between the peoples in ways that class structures do not erode participatory rights and in which it also does not symbolize the subjection of a set of peoples autonomy to another set.


The question then is, what parameter of gender role stratification will be suitable for global feminist tradition of equitable sovereignty. And can such traditional power ever be legitimately gender neutral and leadership secured ?  This questions arise as a result of  the convolutions of gender insecurity which more often contours the strategies of organization and development of people. Examples of  such convolutions in as earmarked in global feminism are the material segregation, ingrained learned malevolence, hatred, and other virulent falsification of human, natural and social history that obliterate the processes of normal development of respectable functional role for either sex. (Reed:1970:29, Hirsthleifer;1987:273). This signifies that  the conferment of property,  power and social relevance are  often misconstrued as the exercise of "the power of man over the minds and action of other men…  and the "capacity to impose one's will on others by reliance on effective sanctions in case of non-compliance" (Schwarzenberger; 1951:14).


Global feminism can also be fully understood by examining gendered structures of inequality because there is an underclass debate in which the female sex is usually contemplated in the sense of dominated, disadvantaged, exploited and excluded (Uko 1996:4-5, (Caprioli, 2004:412). And also there is a notion of an inevitable need for  emancipation and liberation of the female sex from the problems of such negative ascription of needs (Alaya 1977:261). What this implies is that there is a need for balance of rights between social groups such that will enhance the adjudged underclass' inclusion in gender development network. Accordingly Sunstein (1995:332) maintained that the convolution of insecurity first consist of legal practices that sustain and support sexist imagery and the secondly also consist of any rule, implicit or explicit, that might operate against social practices of inclusive gender relations. Such as exclusion of women from political power, unequal access to education, subjection of women to public and private violence, and unequal access to good nutrition and health care. The argument here is that the situation of gender community and humanistic integrative policies will have better focus, if it were brought to bear on basic need approaches that will alleviate social and domestic insecurities as shouldered by women. Hence, for there to be a  gender integrative network,  development should be first and foremost evaluated by the provision of better conditions of living that ameliorates tension between individuals in the parts of the gender  community. (O"Neill; 1995:461). In this wise, the theory of gender consequential  development plan must include the areas of women's security. (Spelman; 1988:171-2).


The Normative Imperatives of Global Feminism for Africa and ‘ Others'.


The challenge of local feminism is that many African nations falls within this paradigm of underclass debate because they have experiences of under- development statuses made more visible by the problems of inordinate populism, crass materialism and sensorial leadership  (Basu, 1995, Hawthorn: 1993:332).  The prospect of global feminism for the African woman  in the face of these problems continues to slip deeper into the doldrums and as such has not taken a transformation (Collier and Gunning 1999:3). Consequently,  this development problems has made it more difficult for the African woman  to catch up with her western counterpart because her activities are not often characterized by correlated economic productivity, high standards of living, technological advancement, participatory rights, the absence of basic human needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, high levels of literacy and education etc. (Opoku 1985:65,Landes: 1991:66).  Instead the African woman is beset with the need of  financial aids,  political assistance and social security (Hawthorn: 1993 42) Thus the natural hierarchy of basic needs  such as health care services, transport, roads, education, water, were the basic community security sought by the African woman . (Wisner; 1988:34, Maslow; 1970)


However the tendency of increasing privatization of economic technologies have added to the  poverty of these women which has in turn   hampered their development. In addition to this the problems of  segregation, civil strife, and military intervention and in some instances. desertion or what is commonly considered as excessive or massive migration of potentials and populace to greener pastures and places of solace, and the correlated adjustment to such new places are also contributive factors to the women's quagmire. However a pragmatic approach to the structural limitations encountered by the African nation states in question can be effectively mitigated if a more elementary safety net of minimum good entitlements, primary health care, elementary education, safe sanitation, etc. can be put in place by most developing nations. (Wisner; 1988:143) Development would involve taking cultural mode of gender integration seriously, (Belshow: 1980 195-202), and transferring these traditional heritage as inclusive social cognitive methodology for women's participation in global network of activities ((Anya, 1992,7, Caughman; 1979:3). This means that while African gender role stratification can be a conducive gender integrative device, it must not however be valorized along with its crippling cultural orientation and practices. In view of this cultural alienation of African perspective in the scheme of gender multicultural integrative device,  Africa therefore according to Davidson, "became subordinate Being subordinate; they were alienated from their own history. And then, after enclosure they were governed by colonial executive dictatorships, which allowed no smallest development of democratic initiative. Not even in the early flowering of structures of modern self- administration". (Davidson;1991. 13-15).


In Africa, it is needful to incorporate a socio-economic and political infrastructure that will generate significant changes, along the patterns of a continental development plan, steered towards building pragmatic human prospects, based on unity, strength, self-reliance, justice, egalitarianism, resourcefulness, and historic dynamism (Anya. 1981:79) In the component societies and communities that makes up the wold poliitcal order the crisis of development expectations is not so much about science, technology and industrialization, but a gap in socio cultural and human development prospects. Collier and Gunning {1999:3-22), explains that in the process of hegemonic  development, the areas in which the human persons are  favored by social, political, and economic circumstances are paramount. The peoples most favored are those whose nations are privileged by global leadership hegemony , while the rest remain, not only because of the misfortunes and misdeeds of history, but because for all manner of internal and external subjugation they are unprivileged .


From this, it is apparent that the simple way forward for global feminism as an integrative policy consist in blend and appropriation of human resources,  policies or cultural gender ideologies  of all component part of the global political structure based on its suitability to the peculiarities of the  people of the different continents that make up the world order. Global feminism in direct applicability to the African continent therefore should determine the integrative conditions for raising the African woman from a state of degradation, inequality, poverty and vassalage, to her proper place in the scale of existence, where, in the dignity of independence, she may discharge the duties and enjoy the happiness of a rational being. This rationalism, makes the marginalized groups, not to repeat the history of anger and resentment toward privileged groups.  (Albrecht & Brewer; 1990) And thereby creates modality by which principles of governance such as equity, justice and freedom in inter-sexual and intra-sexual relations can be properly delineated. Corroborating this Barret (1980;4) argued, that by positing a male centered hegemony, the different  structure and experiences of  gender imbalance and  oppression in different societies, periods of history and social class are unduly universalized.


Way Forward in the Midst of Problems on Global Universalization of  Gender Empowerment.


The problematic ensuing from the incursion of global universalization of gender empowerment was vividly captured by Anthrobus (2004) and Moghadam (2005)  more so because diverse global women's movement through their various strategies  and agendas have not fully realized the sustainable perspectives  in agitating for peace and justice  at both local and international levels, especially in areas pertaining to citizenship, rights and participation. The question of integrative ploys to merge grass-root development programmes and privileged women's programme have not been strategically mapped out. Similarly the emergence of  transnational  or global women's movement have been classed. Government centered gender organizations have not been properly earmarked from masculine dominated NGOs and social movements. Political strategies for feminist advocates reflects little or no changes. Cultural leadership prejudices against women in patriarchal stance have remained static and ridiculously unchanging even in the face of global new trends on human security. 

In essence the general problematic revolves round the parameter of assessment either by qualification or quantification, how to rate tangibly for instance AWIDs (Association for Women's Rights and Development) intervention in rights advocacy given the unbridled stance of patriarchy. Or what the CSO's (Civil Society Organizations) have  sustainably surmounted in the face of  these prejudices? Without being rhetorical one cannot help but wonder if there is indeed a way forward in the midst of all these problems.




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Irene Omolola Adadevoh  studied Philosophy at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos. She  had taught philosophy at University of Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria  and is still teaching  philosophy at Adekunle  Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo. She is keenly interested  in the developing diverse areas of socio -political relevance of humanities in  applied  philosophical manner. She has distinguished herself  in both activism and intellectual work on  gender philosophy, women's studies and applied philosophy and has also contributed  several articles and book chapters in both international and local publications.




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Peer-review ratings (from 1 review, where a score of 100 represents the ‘average’ level):
Originality = 175.00, importance = 150.00, overall quality = 150.00
This Article was published on 11th February, 2011 at 18:54:57 and has been viewed 8711 times.

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The full citation for this Article is:
Adadevoh, I. (2011). Globalization and the Question of Women’s Empowerment.. PHILICA.COM Article number 220.

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1 Peer review [reviewer #50699unconfirmed user] added 17th February, 2011 at 09:08:20

Earlier, I had read and assessed this paper in International studies, because its version in humani has unwieldy characters, however here again is my comment as forwarded in the earlier critique. This paper makes very good analysis by situating the woman question within the global space. It contributes to the teaming discourse on globalization and the disequilibria quagmire bedeviling the underprivileged and underdeveloped peoples, especially the double dilemma faced by women within global networking operation.

Originality: 7, Importance: 6, Overall quality: 6

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