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The Western patriarchal society does not value women for their abilities other than reproducing. This creates women being held back from economic development and questions woman’s rights. Women should stop being viewed as invisible and become problem solvers in solving the disappearing natural resources that have been laundered by the globalization project. The problem needs to be solved because women are an untapped potential.
On the fundamental level, women face marginalization due to neoliberalism and patriarchy. “Neorealism and patriarchy feed off each other and reinforce each other in order to maintain the vast majority of women in a situation of cultural inferiority, social devaluation, economic marginalization, “invisibility” of their existence and labor, and the marketing and commercialization of their bodies” (McMichael, p.193). Developed countries who follow the dominant version in the globalization project, view women as a resource that can be utilized for exploitation. In a male-based profit driven industry, women do not receive credit for their contributions.
In the patriarchal societies, women have become agricultural leaders, because they have gained skills in sustainable agriculture. “Women relate to natural resources as part of their livelihood strategies, which reflect multiple objectives, powerful wider political forces and, crucially, gender relations…” (McMichael, p.198). Women care more about humanitarian needs, however, structural adjustment prevented women from utilizing their agricultural skills.
However, structural adjustments reinforced women into taking on house-work responsibilities. Women were believed “to absorb the shocks of stabilization programs more work and ‘making do’ on limited incomes” (McMichael, p.196). Several developed patriarchal societies believed that women needed to make sure the man was taken care of, because of his productivity. However, Cynthia Enloe argued that men were cheap labor, because “…women are not simply acted upon by globalization; rather, corporate strategies depend on local constructions of femininity” (McMichael, p.197). Women were supposed to be involved in the decision-making process in the globalization projects’ development. However, women were viewed as charity cases that needed empowerment.
International institutions placed monetary values on nature, because they tried to control agriculture, since it was their only source of power “For example, where women have no secure rights to land, they are less able to engage in sustainable resource extraction” (McMichael, p.199). With the current shortage in natural resources the international financial institutions are blaming the population increase. Consequently, several states enforced sterilization and birth control. Fortunately, feminists are focusing on solutions, by advocating for women. “Feminists advocate enabling women to take control of their fertility without targeting women as the source of the population problem” (McMichael, p.199).
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) project that originated from the United Nations, focuses on changing attitudes towards women. “The United Nations Assembly in 1979, Article 5 of which imposes the responsibility on states to transform customs, attitudes, and practices that discriminate against women” (McMichael, p.194). There are still obstructions from the financial institutions, such as the World Bank that funds the feminist project, Women in Development (WID) that focuses on women empowerment in the global South. “WID projects were largely supplemental, and left unchallenged questions of differential access to services, resources, and opportunities between women and men, and the social and development consequences” (McMichael, p.195). The WID project does not provide resources to women. Projects such as CEDAW and WID projects focused on secondary issues, such as education, reducing fertility to improve employment prospects. The United Nations imposed the empowerment projects that lacked tools for women. The Millennium Development Goals does not address the current issues that women face.
Women are encountering inequalities, such a pay gap, sexual violence, and reproductive injustice. These inequalities have not been addressed by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. “The Millennium Development Goals, in producing gender-neutral development indicators (other than primary education), remained silent regarding women’s unpaid care work, reproductive and sexual rights, subjection to violence…” (McMichael, p.201). Equality and development cannot be achieved when women are undervalued. The United Nations has not been successful in promoting gender equality. However, DAWN focuses on women independence and gender equality. They value that everyone should create sustainability.
Women bring in the humanizing perspective to usually profit-driven world and should be allowed to make decisions. Women need to “reclaim the market in a global system where every part of life-even a person’s kidney-is increasingly meddled as a commodity, and which sees people as consumers rather than citizens” (McMichael, p.196). States focus on profit rather than individual needs. Everyone are viewed as consumers who keep the capitalist system flowing rather than as individuals.
Women should be challenging opportunities to be world leaders. Their inclusion in the conversation will be beneficial to the future of agriculture. With the more inclusive society, the world is slowly on the path to sustainability.
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