The West and the Global South: Assigned Resources

Joyce M. Chadya,
“Mother Politics and Anti-Colonial Nationalism”

In this article, Joyce M. Chadya analyzes gender relations within decolonial movements in Africa. Chadya notes that although women were fundamental to decolonizing efforts, women have been largely left out of policy-making and political decision-making since independence. Colonialism, Chadya demonstrates, forces women to fight two different struggles, one for gender equality and one for nationalist autonomy.  In this context, women engaging in feminist struggle are depicted as traitors to independence movements. As Chadya writes, “in these struggles, nationalist interests overshadowed women’s issues as women were encouraged to focus on nationalist goals first”.  Women are constructed as “mothers” of the emerging nation, who work to reproduce the nation literally and symbolically, Chadya argues, without any recognition for their contributions.

As you read:

  • Try to put Chadya’s argument in your own words
  • Note examples Chadya uses to support her points
  • Identify examples of ways that African women experience both oppression and power
Devon Matthews
WID, WAD, GAD, or What?

Next, we turn to the question of gender and development with this short article by Devon Matthews titled, “WID, WAD, GAD, or What? Exploring Where Women Fit Into Development Theory and Practice.” In this article, Matthews complicates narratives about liberating women and girls in the Global South through education.

As you read:

  • Identify the differences between Women in Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD), and Gender and Development (GAD) approaches
  • Explain how this article employs a post-colonial feminist critique (hint: identify the author’s critique of ‘universalizing’ narratives of women and girls in the Global South)

Content warning: this article features discussions of gender-based and sexualized violence.

Next, you will watch a documentary titled Schooling the World. There is a pervasive narrative that education is the key to abolishing patriarchy in the Global South. But advocates of girlchild education in the Global North rarely pause to ask, “whose education?” and “for what purpose?”. This documentary identifies the ways that education has, in fact, served colonial powers by advancing “civilizing” missions to assimilate Indigenous peoples. This film asks, whose interests are advanced when advocates from the Global North emphasize education as the key to ending gender inequality?

As you watch:

  • Reflect on definitions of progress. What measures exist to assess “progress”? Who defines these measures?
  • Reflect on narratives about development — who determines what counts as “development”?
  • Reflect on campaigns for educating girls and women in the Global South — have you ever paused to question the benefits of Western education in the Global South?

Content warning: this documentary features discussions of residential schooling and graphic images of war (3 min 30 seconds)

  • Note: this YouTube video features ad interruptions.
Sheryl WuDunn
“Half the Sky: Our Century’s Greatest Injustice”
18 min 3 sec

Finally, you will watch Sheryl WuDunn’s TED Talk about education in the Global South, “Our Century’s Greatest Injustice“. WuDunn is co-author of “Half the Sky” about worldwide gender inequality. WuDunn argues that “only when women in developing countries have equal access to education and economic opportunity will we be using all our human resources”.

As you watch:

  • Apply a postcolonial feminist lens, which critiques Western feminist frameworks that tend to universalize women and girls from the Global South
  • Think critically about Western metrics of “development” worldwide: what are the political implications of applying Western measures of “progress” focused on economic growth to the Global South? Does economic growth actually solve problems of gender inequality?
  • Think about the role of education in transmitting knowledge, cultural values, and skills. Whose version of education is advanced here?
  • Consider WuDunn’s argument in the context of the Global North — does equal education actually lead to gender equality? Or do gender inequities persist in the Global North despite equal access to education?

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