The West and the Global South: Summary


This module has introduced you to postcolonial feminist theory and debates on Global North-led feminist development initiatives in the Global South. Western-led campaigns to liberate women and girls in the Global South, critics point out, tend to rely upon stereotypes and simplifications about women and girls in the Global South. Further, campaigns led by the Global North to ‘save’ women and girls in the Global South tend to emphasize Western progress indicators, including economic growth.

Postcolonial feminists, building upon the work of Gayatri Spivak, critique colonial and imperial discourses about white men (and women) saving brown women from brown men. Postcolonial feminists urge people from the Global North to examine issues of gender inequality in their own societies instead. Indeed, while women and girls in the Global North generally have access to education, gender-based and racist violence persists. In Edmonton, for example, Black Muslim women wearing hijabs have been the subjects of at least five recent attacks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made gender equality and women’s empowerment a feature of his foreign policy agenda. For example, in a 2020 speech at the launch of the African Women’s Leadership Fund, Trudeau argued: “Increasing the participation of women across all sectors leads to better outcomes. Not just for women themselves, but for our businesses, our communities, our economies”. Here, Trudeau positions gender equality as something good for business. Do you think that indicators of progress based on Western economic principles work everywhere? Who should lead women’s movements in the Global South? From a postcolonial feminist lens, what other questions arise for you? In your discussion posts for this module, you will have a chance to think more about these questions.

Discussion Questions

Discuss the documentary “Schooling the World” in relation to Sheryl WuDunn’s TED Talk “Our Century’s Greatest Injustice”, which is based on her book Half the Sky. Try to incorporate a postcolonial feminist perspective in your discussion post, including at least one example from the assigned readings by Chadya and Matthews. Use the following questions as a guide for your discussion. What do you think about initiatives led by the Global North to educate women and girls in the Global South? Why are these campaigns so persuasive? Have you ever paused to reflect on the benefits of Western education in the Global South? Why or why not? Who should lead feminist initiatives in the Global South? Does the Global North have all of the solutions for gender inequality? If so, why does gender inequality persist in the Global North?

Remember to check into eClass to submit upcoming activities and assignments, participate in the discussion board, and communicate with your instructor.


Chadya, Joyce M. 2003. “Mother Politics: Anti-colonial Nationalism and the Woman Question in Africa.” Journal of Women’s History, 15 (3): 153-57.

Clarke, Marlea, and Smith Oduro-Marfo. 2018. “Global South: What Does it Mean and Why Use the Term?” University of Victoria The Online Academic Community, August 8, 2018. 

Mattews, Devon. 2015. “WID, WAD, GAD or What? Exploring Where Women Fit Into Development Theory and Practice.” Medium, March 19, 2015.

Mertz, Emily, 2021. “Another Black Muslim Woman Threatened at Edmonton Transit Station.” Global News, February 24, 2021. 

Mohanty, Chandra T. 1984. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” Boundary 2 (12,13): 333-58. 

Mohanty, Chandra T. 2003. “‘Under Western Eyes’ Revisited: Feminist Solidarity Through Anticapitalist Struggles.” Signs 28 (2): 499-535.

Okeke-Ihejirika, Philomina, Bukola Salami, and Aryan Karimi. 2018. “African Immigrant Women’s Transition and Integration Into Canadian Society: Expectations, Stressors, and Tensions.” Gender, Place & Culture 26 (4): 581-601. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2018.1553852

Parashar, Swati. 2016. “Feminism and Postcolonialism: (En)gendering Encounters.” Postcolonial Studies 19 (4): 371-77. DOI: 10.1080/13688790.2016.1317388

“Prime Minister Trudeau Speaks About Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Addis Ababa.” 2020. Produced by Justin Trudeau-Prime Minister of Canada, February 8, 2020. Youtube video, 

“Schooling the World”. 2014. Produced by Roger Charlesworth, September 25, 2014. Youtube video, 

Spivak, Gayatri C. 1988. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, edited by C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, 24-28. London: Macmillan.
WuDunn, Sheryl. 2010. “Our Century’s Greatest Injustice”. July 2010, TEDGlobal,

Leave a Reply