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,

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?

The West and the Global South: Lesson and Big Idea

Lesson: The West and the Global South

What does the term “the Global South” mean? It depends on who you ask, which is why it is so important that we pause to discuss what we mean in this course when we talk about “the Global South.”  In a blog post titled, “Global South: What does it mean and why use the term?”, Dr. Marlea Clarke of the University of Victoria identifies three different uses of the term “the Global South”, each of which has political implications.  As Dr. Clarke notes, even though the terms “Global North” and “Global South” imply a clear geographic demarcation, the term “Global South” is not just about geography — rather, it is about power.  

First, some researchers and policymakers use the term to describe low-income countries. This definition of the term, critics argue, oversimplifies similarities between these countries, which have distinct histories and unique political, social, and cultural systems. 

A second use of the term “the Global South” distinguishes between the Global North and Global South as a way of critiquing global power relations, colonialism, and capitalism, which result in a concentration of wealth and power in the Global North. Those who subscribe to this definition of the term note that the distinction between the Global North and the Global South is not strictly about geography or place, even though ‘North’ and ‘South’ imply spatial relations.  Rather, this conception of the Global North and South acknowledges that there is poverty in the Global North and wealth in the Global South. As Clarke writes about defining the Global South:

“The term is not static and does not refer to a specific list of countries, groups or communities: it evokes different meanings and is used both descriptively and analytically. The north-south divide is present and increasing. But this inequality it is not just between countries (if it ever was); inequalities are increasingly marked on a smaller scale, between and within communities” 

Dr. Marlea Clarke, University of Victoria in “Global South: What does it mean and why use the term?”

A third conception of the Global South is rooted in a field called subaltern studies, a branch of postcolonial thought emerging in the 1980s which seeks to emphasize the perspectives, experiences, and knowledges of those who have been oppressed by and are agents of resistance against imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism.  Subaltern studies reject narratives of people from the Global South as helpless victims in need of aid from the Global North; rather, they emphasize that people oppressed by imperialism, colonialism, and global capitalism also have power and agency.  

The terms “Global North” and “Global South” have generally replaced the terms “developed”, “developing”, and “underdeveloped”, and “first world” and “third world”. The terms “developed”, “developing”, and “underdeveloped” emerged from the Global North in the post-war period as a way of categorizing countries based on economic indicators. Critics of the labels “developed”, “developing”, and “underdeveloped” argue that these labels imply a hierarchy based on Western, capitalist conceptions of what constitutes “success” and progress, based primarily on economic indicators.  Further, critics reject the assumption embedded in this classification that “development” — as defined by the West — is desirable for all countries.  The terms “first”, “second”, and “third world” emerged during the Cold War, when power was concentrated in either the first world (the West), the second world (the former Soviet Union), or the third world (the rest of the world).  Today, many scholars prefer the terms Global North and Global South because this distinction does not imply a hierarchy, does not depend on geography, and implies a critique of the role of imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism in producing unequal power relations that persist globally.

BIG IDEA: Postcolonial feminism

Postcolonial feminism is a branch of feminist thought and activism emerging from formerly colonized countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.  While the “post” in postcolonialism implies that colonizing relations have come to an end, postcolonial scholars emphasize the ongoing effects of colonialism and imperialism and the inequalities perpetuated by global capitalism. Postcolonial feminists provide powerful critiques of patriarchy within decolonial and nationalist movements and challenge Western feminisms that resort to stereotypes when discussing women and girls in the Global South.  Postcolonial feminists emphasize that colonialism, imperialism, globalization, and decolonization have particular consequences for women, and white, Western feminisms that imagine women and girls from the Global South as helpless victims contribute to unequal gendered power relations.  Postcolonial feminists emphasize that women and girls from the Global South have power and agency. As Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika and Bukola Salami (2018) write, “a postcolonial feminist perspective not only recognizes the resilience and resistance of vulnerable actors but also the need to place their knowledge at the centre of analysis” (94).  

Postcolonial feminists articulate important critiques of nationalist movements in formerly colonized countries.  Postcolonial feminists have theorized, for example, the ways that women take on the role of reproducers of national identity, language, culture, and tradition.  Because of their power and agency in reproducing the nation literally and symbolically, women and their roles are contested in colonial and postcolonial contexts. 

Let’s consider some examples of postcolonial feminist theory. First, Chandra Mohanty’s “Under Western Eyes”, first published in 1986, is an important text in the field of postcolonial feminism.  In “Under Western Eyes,” Chandra Mohanty critiqued the tendency of “Western feminist’ scholarship to generalize about the experiences of “Third World” women.  The tendency of white, Western feminism to treat the “Third World Woman” as a singular monolithic subject, she argued, is a form of discursive colonialism; that is, this kind of language functions to disempower “Third World” women.  She argued that feminist scholarship and social movements that seek to traverse different cultural and national contexts must account for both global power relations and local specificities. In a 2002 follow-up to “Under Western Eyes,” Mohanty writes: 

“Eurocentric analytic paradigms continue to flourish, and I remain committed to reengaging in the struggles to criticize openly the effects of discursive colonization on the lives and struggles of marginalized women. My central commitment is to build connections between feminist scholarship and political organizing. My own present-day analytic framework remains very similar to my earliest critique of Eurocentrism. However, I now see the politics and economics of capitalism as a far more urgent locus of struggle. I continue to hold to an analytic framework that is attentive to the micropolitics of everyday life as well as to the macropolitics of global economic and political processes.” (509)

Chandra Mohanty in “Under Western Eyes Revisited” (2002)

Postcolonial feminists have expanded on Mohanty’s work, refining her theory.  Swati Parashar (2016) writes, for example, of the importance of acknowledging differences not just between the West and the Global South but within postcolonial contexts: “As we now know, difference is not just between the West and non-West but within these geographies and temporalities as well and any universalism is discursive violence that writes out histories and mutes voices” (371).

Another example of postcolonial feminist theorizing is Gayatri Spivak’s   “Can the Subaltern Speak?”.  Spivak argues that women in postcolonial contexts occupy the status of the subaltern class — a subordinated or marginalized class.  Famously, Spivak writes in this essay of the ways colonialism often takes the form of “white men saving brown women from brown men.”  In this phrase, Spivak captures the race and gender power dynamics at play in British colonial India, in which British men justified their “civilizing mission” in the name of saving women from what they deemed an inherently patriarchal culture.  Yet, Spivak points out that Indian women’s own voices were excluded from the conversation.  Postcolonial and transnational feminists have applied Spivak’s critical representation of colonialism as “white men saving brown women from brown men” to critique the global “War on Terror,” which Western powers have justified under the sign of liberating women and girls.

Gender & Migration: Summary

Summary: A Demographic Revolution

A major social transformation is underway in Canada, whereby population increases are increasingly the result of migration. For example, by 2031, immigrants and children of immigrants will constitute 50 per cent of the Canadian population (Smith 2018, 45). This requires, Dr. Malinda S. Smith argues, “more innovative ways of thinking about social diversity” (2018, 45). Multiculturalism policy has been the Canadian approach to “managing” difference (Dhamoon 2009). Introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1971, multiculturalism was designed to help promote cultural interchange and remove barriers to integration and full participation in Canadian society. In her book Identity/Difference Politics, feminist postcolonial scholar Rita Dhamoon argues that multiculturalism “has many appeals”, including the exchange of foods, clothing, art forms, and acceptance of different religious practices. Yet, Dhamoon argues that multiculturalism does not address social inequities, or deal with issues of unemployment/under-employment, de-skilling of immigrants, poverty, or a lack of social supports.

As we learned in this module, people migrate for different reasons. Voluntary migrants often leave their homelands reluctantly in search of economic opportunities, educational opportunities, or to reunite with family members. Involuntary (or forced migrants) leave their homelands without choice — they must leave because of the threat of violence, famine, or persecution. Canada recruits migrants for three main reasons:

  1. because migrants provide “cheap labour” and take on work that many Canadian citizens do not want
  2. to grow its population
  3. for humanitarian reasons outlined in the United Nations Convention on Refugees

Indeed, evidence shows that migration, including involuntary migration, provides a net economic benefit for Canada. Yet, as we learned in the readings for this module, migrants’ experiences of resettlement can involve significant challenges, requiring specific supports and services. The readings and lessons raise several questions which you can discuss in your groups.

Discussion Questions

What in your view might be the reasons why some immigrants still choose to come to Canada, knowing that their professions may not be recognized and that they could end up doing menial jobs? Given that the scarcity of cheap labour is the main reason why we bring immigrants to Canada, is it a contradiction to expect the government to significantly improve their wellbeing? Is it an injustice to bring immigrants to Canada without making adequate plans for their wellbeing? How could service providers address the gendered nature of migration and settlement? 

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

Gender & Migration: Assigned Resources

You’ll be reading three journal articles based on your instructor’s research. Reading three journal articles might seem like a lot, but if you read with attention to the “big points” and follow the tips provided below, you will find this exercise takes less time and feels less overwhelming. In addition to the questions below, here are some tips to guide you:

  1. Start with the abstract, and then read the introduction and conclusion first. This will give you a sense of the “big points” the authors are making before you get into the details.
  2. Journal articles often include discussions of the researchers’ methods. For this course, you will not be assessed based on your understanding of the authors’ methods, so you can skim those sections.
  3. Write down the “big point” from the findings sections in point form. Your notes do not need to be too detailed.
  4. Skip ahead to the discussion questions on the “Summary” page so you can help guide your reading.
Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika and Bukola Salami,
“Men Become Baby Dolls and Women Become Lions”

In the assigned resources for this module, you have the unique opportunity to engage with your professor’s own research into migrant experiences. In this article, Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika and Dr. Bukola Salami study the gendered experiences of African Immigrant men in Alberta. By engaging with African men’s experiences of migration, they shift the focus from an association of gender with women to one that takes into account men’s experiences. Africans, Dr. Okeke-Ihejirika and Dr. Salami note, are among the fastest growing populations of immigrants in Canada, and as such research into their experiences is crucial to develop policy and services.

As you read:

  • Pay attention to the authors’ explanations of postcolonial and transnational feminism (page 94)
  • Try to define these approaches in your own words
  • Why do the authors say it is important to study gender and experiences of migration? (see page 95)
  • Identify the three main stressors that shape gender relations in the post-migration context (see page 96)
  • Try to explain each of these stressors in your own words.
Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika, Bukola Salami, and Ahmad Karimi
“African Immigrant Women’s Transition and Integration into Canadian Society”

Next, you’ll read about Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika, Dr. Bukola Salami, and Dr. Ahmad Karimi’s research into African women’s experiences of integrating into Canadian society. Their research reveals the challenges African women experience when integrating into Canadian society, particularly challenges related to their economic wellbeing and gender roles, a lack of community support, and Canadian socio-legal systems.

As you read:

  • Why do the authors argue that there is a need to study the experience of African Immigrant women in particular?
  • Identify specific examples of ways that migration is a gendered experience according to the migrants who share their experiences.
  • Think about supports, services, or policy changes required in Canada/Alberta to address the challenges described by the participants in the study.
  • Think about the question of who is best positioned to take the lead in these changes. What do the authors say about this?
  • Note: this article includes discussions of domestic violence.
Sophie Yohani and Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika,
“Pathways to Help-Seeking”

Finally, you’ll read about Yohani and Okeke-Ihejirika’s research on African women’s experiences of GBV pre- and post-migration. Yohani and Okeke-Ihejirika study African women’s experiences of trauma, but also highlight their resilience. Note that the authors frame the problem of violence as not just a problem for individuals, but for communities. While re-settlement, they note, can provide safety from violence and instability, re-settlement can bring new challenges in the absence of appropriate supports.

As you read:

  • Note how the authors describe distinct gender roles in the post-migration context (see page 384)
  • What are the four priorities and pathways to mental health supports that the participants identified? (see page 386-87) Can you explain each of these priorities and pathways briefly (1-2 sentences) in your own words?
  • What kinds of policy changes do you think should be implemented as a result of these findings? Who should lead the implementation of these changes?
  • Note: this article includes discussions of gender-based violence.

Gender & Migration: Lesson & Big Idea

Patterns of Migration

Why is it important to study patterns of migration and migrant experiences in Canada? This short background lesson explains migration patterns and population change using data from Statistics Canada in order explain why studying migration is so important. Click here to access the report to which this lesson refers if you’d like to see the data in more detail. As a settler-colonial state, Canada has always depended upon migration to maintain its population. By definition, Canada is a nation of immigrants — anyone who is not Indigenous is in Canada as the result of migration. Strong evidence shows, however, that migration is becoming more and more important to sustaining Canada’s population growth. Thus, we cannot ignore the experiences of migrants.

In any country, population growth comes from two main sources. First, from natural increases whereby the number of births exceed the number of deaths. To measure natural increases, researchers study death rates, birth rates, and fertility rates (the average number of children born per woman). The second main source of population growth is migration. To study population increases based on migration, researchers determine whether the number of migrants entering a country exceeds the number of migrants leaving the country.

Let’s look at patterns of migration and population growth in Canada. Around the time of Confederation in 1867 until the early 20th century, Canada recruited migrants to populate the West. Indigenous peoples were a majority in the West, so migration was a means of populating the plains with settlers. During this period, immigration policies attempted to produce a white nation, discouraging those deemed ‘unsuitable’ from migrating.  For instance, in 1885 John A. Macdonald argued regarding ‘African’ and ‘Asian’ people that: “It is not desired that they come; that we should have a mongrel race; that the Aryan character of the future of British America should be destroyed’ (quoted in Smith 2003, 112 , emphasis added). Instead, migrants were admitted to Canada to provide cheap labour to aid in nation-building. For example, Canada recruited Asian men to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Lisa Marie Jakubowski writes: “the Chinese railway workers were tolerated by the white workers, as long as there was no other source of labour available” (12). Building the CPR was dangerous work, costing many men their lives. When the work was completed, Canada tried to prevent Asian men from staying in Canada permanently by implementing the Chinese Immigration Act (1885), which imposed upon Chinese men a hefty cost for immigrating, and prohibited Chinese women and children from entry.

Between 1901 and 1911, migration increased, with around 1.2 million migrants coming to Canada. This was a period of rapid population growth, with high levels of immigration and high fertility rates (around 5 children per woman). Canada continued to try to restrict migration based on race, however. For example, the 1910 Immigration Act sought to prohibit certain ‘races’ deemed “undesirable” from coming to Canada.

The Canadian government tried to ‘sell’ the idea of immigration to the West, focusing on attracting migrants from Britain and America. For example, here Graham Chandler describes how images like this one, from the cover of Canada West (1925), were designed to appeal to potential European and American migrants, excluding Jewish and Black migrants.

After World War II, Canada witnessed a “baby boom”, which continued into the 1960s. In the 1950s, fertility rates averaged 3.9 children per woman. At the same time, immigration levels increased. By the 1960s, patterns shifted as migration took on a more significant role in population increases in Canada. There are two reasons for this. First, fertility rates began to decrease in the late 1960s and 1970s, falling below 1.8 children per woman. Second, death rates increased as the population aged. When the number of births are roughly proportionate to the number of deaths, as is the case in Canada since the mid-1960s, migration takes on a more significant role in population growth. In the 1960s, the Government of Canada liberalized immigration policy, transitioning from its implicit “White Canada” policy focused on attracting migrants from Europe to a a points-based system. The new system opened up immigration from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Today, most migrants come to the West from the Global South.

As the “baby boom” generation ages, death rates will increase. Since the mid-1970s, fertility rates have remained relatively stable, at around 1.5 to 1.7 children per woman. If fertility rates continue to remain stable, then migration will take on an even more significant role in Canada’s population growth, according to Statistics Canada. This fact calls attention to the need to study migration patterns and migrant experiences. Indeed, Dr. Malinda S. Smith writes:

“Canada is in the midst of a demographic revolution, one that is ushering in a great social transformation in the constitution of Canadian society”

Malinda S. Smith, 2018. “Diversity in Theory and Practice: Dividends, Downsides, and Dead-Ends.” In Contemporary Inequalities and Social Justice in Canada, ed. Janine Brodie. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

While the liberalization of immigration in the 1960s opened up migration from parts of the Global South, ‘race’ and gender continue to shape immigration patterns. For example, men tend to be the primary applicants for immigration, with women and children typically listed as dependents. In the 1990s, the Government of Canada favoured independent immigrants with economic resources, who tended to be men, while women and children were viewed as a potential cost to Canada. In reality, however, because immigrants pay taxes and work in Canada, immigration is an economic benefit. As we will learn in the readings for this module, immigrants’ experiences of life in Canada are often shaped by race and gender, highlighting the need for services and supports.

LESSON: The Danger of A Single Story

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains in her lecture, “The Danger of a Single Story,” how singular narratives flatten diversity and erase nuance. Telling stories involve power. As Adichie explains, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person”. Listen to Adichie’s lecture, and identify the problem with singular narratives about migrants and the Global South. As you learn about migration, keep in mind the need to resist adopting a single story about gender and migration.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
The Danger of Single Story


BIG IDEA: Involuntary Migration

The terms ‘migrant’ or ‘migration’ capture different forms of movement across borders. There are two main types of migration: voluntary migration and involuntary (or forced) migration. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) explains, it is important not to conflate these two types of migration, even though the term ‘migrant’ is often used as a ‘catch-all’ term.

Voluntary migration refers to migration by choice, including the choice to leave one’s home country to for economic opportunities, for educational reasons, or to reunite with relatives in a new country. Involuntary migration, on the other hand, refers to the process of fleeing one’s country of origin to escape war, violence, persecution, or, increasingly, climate change. Involuntary migration is the result of displacement in which people leave their home because staying would likely result in death or devastation. Involuntary migrants or refugees often leave their homes because they have experienced significant trauma, and the process of fleeing their country in search of refuge can itself be traumatic. This video provides more context about involuntary migration.

A growing number of refugees from African countries are forced to seek asylum in Canada due to conflict and instability. As Dr. Sophie Yohani and Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika (2018) explain, gender-based violence (GBV) is a widespread problem in conflict and post-conflict zones. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines gender-based violence as: “any act that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation fo liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. In the context of increasing involuntary migration from Africa to Canada, Yohani and Okeke-Ihejirika study the experiences of African women who have experienced GBV in conflict zones, and the kind of supports in Canada after migration. They emphasize the need for specific supports for women who have escaped GBV, including mental health and social supports that address their experiences in both the pre-migration and post-migration contexts. You’ll have the opportunity to read about their work in the assigned resources for this module.

Final Exam Review: Summary

To prepare for the final exam, it is important that you review the learning objectives for each module; take note of important terms and concepts each module introduces. Ensure you can identify some of the main points for each assigned resource. Think about how big ideas and main arguments relate to each other. Remember that you will have access to your notes, eClass, and the site. This means your responses to the exam questions should go beyond basic summary and provide critical analysis and thoughtful arguments using evidence from lessons and assigned resources.

The “test yourself sections” at the end of most modules are helpful for testing your basic knowledge of the module, but acing each of the “test yourself quizzes” does not guarantee that you are prepared for the final. The exam will require you to discuss these concepts and ideas in much more depth. Also remember that you have to reference all materials you use in your response and that your responses need to draw on course materials.

Make sure you are familiar with the code of student behavior and understand what constitutes academic integrity. If you feel unclear about this, please consult the sources on this website.

In advance of the final exam, reflect on what the most important issues in the study of gender and social justice are for you. Why do these issues matter? How has your view changed or your understanding deepened by taking this course? Which big ideas and assigned resources from the course would help you make the case that these issues are important?

Most of all, remember that you have been preparing for this final exam throughout the entire term! You have been studying the modules, doing discussion posts, thinking about these ideas in your community service learning placements, and applying these ideas in your big idea challenges and presentations. So, it is important that in addition to reviewing some of the material, you also take time to eat, rest, and get out for a walk or some exercise!

If anything extenuating circumstances prevent you from completing the final exam, it is important that you contact Dr. Susanne Luhmann as soon as possible.

Feeling stressed? Let us help! Book an appointment with a member of the teaching team. See eClass for booking instructions.

To do:

  • Review the big ideas for each module
  • Review the learning goals for each module; make notes about important terms and concepts
  • Review any readings you’ve missed
  • Book an office hours appointment if you require support
  • Block off some time in your calendar for completing the exam
  • Stay calm, get some rest, and remember to drink water!


Requirements, Format, and Submission:

First, let’s begin with the mechanics of the exam. This is a take-home, open-book final exam featuring short answer, long answer, and essay questions. You will have one week to complete it. I have broken this section down into a series of questions for ease of reading.

When is it? Please check the course outline. The exam is scheduled during the exam period. Once the exam opens on the date specified in eclass, you will have 7 days to complete the final exam.

How do I complete the exam? You will write the final exam in a Word document and submit it on eClass as a single document. Please double-space and use a 12-point font.

What is the format? The format consists of three parts: Part A concerns course terms and concepts (like in the midterm exam). Part B is a short answer question (max 250 words) and Part C entails one longer and one essay question.

The exam questions will require you to engage in analysis and synthesis of content across different modules. This means you will not be just summarizing information you’ve learned. Rather, you will have to think, apply your ideas to different questions and examples, and show how the different big ideas, concepts, and theories relate to one another. 

Do I have access to my notes?  Yes, the final exam is open book, so you do not need to download any sneaky spying software.  We won’t need to watch you write your exam!  You have access to the website, your notes, and all materials on eClass. 

How do I prepare?  Your and your peers’ discussion posts together with the Big Idea Challenges and the mid-term exam have been designed to help you prepare for the final exam. This review module is also designed to help you prepare.

Why is this exam format and schedule different than my other courses?  Because this is an online course, this course does not have a meeting schedule. This means that this exam is not scheduled by the registrar’s office.

How long will it take me? The time it takes you to complete the exam will depend on your individual learning needs and how prepared you feel. Like an exam where you all sit in the same room, some of you will be faster, and some will need more time. You might choose to write it in blocks of 45 min each, or one question at a time. Do what works for you. Because this is a take-home, open-book exam, you may find yourself thinking about your responses to your questions when you are out for a walk, or making breakfast. As such, it is difficult to estimate a precise timeline. Someone who has read everything and taken careful notes may spend less time planning their responses, compared to someone who finds they need to review the assigned resources or reread some lessons.

When it comes to the time actually spent writing, I recommend you do not spend more than 6 hours. More time is not necessarily to your advantage, and I would resist the urge to spend all of your time on this to the neglect of your other courses. If you’re well-prepared and have taken notes as suggested early on in this class, it is possible to write the exam in 3-4 hours.

What if I have 4 other exams during the same week? All of you will be completing multiple exams during the final exam period, so I have given you 7 full days because I think this will accommodate various schedules and enable you to budget your own time to work on the exam. 

What if I work during the final exam period?  I know how stressful it is to work when you are going to school! Let your employer know that you are writing final exams during this period. Try to make sure you have enough time set aside to complete this exam. If anything is preventing you from completing the exam, please communicate with us.

What if I have accommodation needs? This exam is designed to accommodate all folks who have documented accessibility concerns, including time multipliers. But please set up an office hours appointment with me ASAP if you are concerned that this format is not accessible for you or if you are concerned you will not be able to complete the exam in the timeframe allotted. 

What if something happens and I can’t write the exam? If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from writing the exam, let me know as soon as you can. We may need to apply for a grade of incomplete or a deferred final exam through your faculty. 

VIDEO: Final Exam Tips

(please note that this video is from 2020; so the dates Daisy mentions do not apply this year. But the tips are just as helpful in 2023 as they were then).

In the fall 2023 term, the exam opens on eclass on Dec 8, 2023 and closes on Dec 15 at 23:59 pm.

Review: Key Course Concepts and Big Ideas

You should be able to explain each of the big ideas from the course. A good explanation offers a broad overview, followed by a more in-depth explanation that refers to lessons and assigned resources. Offering a ‘real world’ example will strengthen your explanation. It is not enough to offer one or two sentences when defining a ‘big idea’ or key concept — you should elaborate in some depth. Review the big idea lessons and the readings to help you explain each big idea. If you head over to the “Big Idea Challenge” page you will find there some of the exceptional responses to the Big Idea Challenges to help refresh your memory about each of the big ideas.

Also important are other key concepts that are part of the learning objectives of each module. These usually are elaborated on in the assigned resources.

Please do not use definitions or explanations from sources outside of this course. The exam is about synthesizing your learning in this course. Exams help you to focus on the takeaways of your term’s work.

Assigned Resources: Review

Before the final exam opens, identify any modules that feel less familiar to you. Perhaps there was a module you had to read really quickly because you were busy with midterms, or you got sick during the semester and missed a few things. Start by reviewing the lessons for those few modules again, and make sure you review the assigned resources. Go over the learning objectives of each module and see if you can explain key terms. You may also find it helpful to review your group’s discussion posts from that module.


Angela Davis,
“Prison Reform or Prison Abolition?”

First, you’ll read Chapter One of Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete?, “Prison Reform or Prison Abolition?”  Angela Davis is a Black feminist scholar whose work is dedicated to prison abolition and civil rights. Born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama, learning how to resist white supremacist violence was part of Davis’s upbringing.  After studying philosophy in Germany at the Frankfurt school, Davis became active in the Black Panthers.  In 1970, Davis was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 months when four people were killed with a gun Davis had purchased legally.  Her wrongful imprisonment drew even more attention to her cause.  In the introduction to Are Prisons Obsolete?, Davis asks why prisons are taken for granted.

As you read:

  • Reflect on how prisons are taken for granted in Canada. Have you ever questioned whether prisons are necessary or good?
  • Remember that the political and economic context of prison growth is different in Canada than the U.S. In Canada, prisons are publicly funded. Keeping one incarcerated person in federal prison costs approximately $115,000 per year — almost triple the cost of tuition at Harvard University, according to the John Howard Society. Thus, profit does not explain prison expansion in the Canadian context.
  • Identify two reasons Davis argues prisons are taken for granted, and think of examples of your own.

You can access the book here.

Lucas Crawford and Robert Nichols,
“Rethinking Hate Crimes: The Hard Work of Creating Social Equity”

In this short essay from Beyond the Queer Alphabet, Lucas Crawford and Robert Nichols challenge the notion that hate crimes legislation protects queer, trans, racialized, and Indigenous people from violence. They explain that the criminalization of ‘hate’ simultaneously obscures and depends upon ongoing structures of oppression. That is, charging someone with a hate crime requires that the offender articulate a clear expression of racism, homophobia, transphobia, or misogyny, identifying crimes in the name of ‘hatred’ as different from ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ violence. As Nichols and Crawford explain, however, ‘normal’ violence cannot be so easily separated from violence in the name of hatred. They argue that hate crimes legislation, which results in longer sentences for those convicted, is not a form of protection for marginalized groups, but empowers the criminal justice system, which polices and incarcerates Black, Indigenous, and queer people disproportionately.

As you read:

  • Identify their argument and try to put it into your own words. How would you explain the problem with hate crimes legislation to your roommate, your mom, or your cat?
  • Pay attention to whether or not Nichols and Crawford think hate crimes legislation reduces instances of hate-fuelled violence
  • Explain why Nichols and Crawford want us to “look beyond prisons for justice”

You can access the book here.



Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique generalized about women’s experiences of domestic life in mid-twentieth century America, failing to consider ways that Black, poor, Indigenous, and immigrant women had different experiences of the private sphere. This is just one example of ways that liberal feminist perspectives espoused by primarily white, middle-class women have erased racialized and poor women’s experiences. As bell hooks explains, Friedan did not consider the ways that white women’s attempts to achieve equality with white men depended upon the maintenance of race and class power structures. hooks’s chapter “Feminist Politics: Where We Stand” advocates for feminist politics that challenge multiple systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, and colonialism. An analysis of gender oppression and patriarchy alone cannot produce a robust, inclusive, or effective feminist politics.

Examples from the Canadian women’s movement from the 1960s-1980s demonstrate that there are real divisions among women based on nation, race, language, class, and colonialism. Whereas white, English-speaking women focused on campaigning for the inclusion of a sexual equality provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example, Indigenous women mobilized to challenge the Indian Act‘s patriarchal rules about marriage and identity. Indigenous feminists challenge colonialism and patriarchy as mutually-reinforcing systems of oppression.

This module also introduced you to feminist, queer, and trans theories about sex and gender. Since Simone de Beauvoir articulated the sex/gender distinction in her 1949 book, The Second Sex, feminist, queer, and trans scholars have produced complex theories about the relationship between bodies, power, and identity. Feminist, queer, and trans scholars have challenged gender binaries — or gender dualism as Dr. Michelle Meagher explains here in wgs101. Trans scholars, including Leslie Feinberg, explain that sex — defined as chromosomes, hormones, and genitals — does not determine one’s identity or experience. As Feinberg writes, “sex and gender are much more complex than a delivery room doctor’s glance a genitals can determine” (195). In fact, research in the fields of biology and medicine confirm that biological sex can be quite difficult to define due to natural variations in hormones, chromosomes, and genitals. How might feminism embrace the idea of trans liberation? This is a question to reflect upon throughout the course. For now, take the opportunity to assess your comprehension of lessons, lectures, assigned resources, and big ideas from this module.

COMMUNITY SERVICE LEARNING (not available every year – please check eclass): Have you considered doing a CSL placement for this course? You can get credit for working for community organizations contributing to gender equality and social justice, making connections to course content along the way. You will find all of the information about CSL on eClass.

Test Yourself

Discussion Questions – please see eclass

This week you will practice using quotations effectively. You will choose a quotation from one of the readings and explain, in your own words, what it means, and why it is meaningful or memorable.

This image is decorative. A group of friends of varying genders take photos at a party.
Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. See guidelines here:

Plan your own gender reveal party. How would you reveal your gender to your family and friends? How would you convey complex information about your identity through a gender reveal party? How might your party engage in what Judith Butler calls “gender trouble” by disrupting sex/gender binaries? Reflect on the phenomenon of gender reveal parties and the process of distilling your gendered self into one big “reveal”. What feels inadequate or limiting about that process? What is liberating? Can feminists, queer, and trans folks ‘take back’ gender reveal parties as a form of resistance to gender binaries?

REMEMBER! Check out the details for the upcoming “Big Idea Challenge” assignment and deadlines on eclass.

And remember to post in the discussion forum Module 2. Use eClass for all assignments, to ask questions, stay up-to-date on announcements, and participate in the discussion boards.


“Canada’s Toxic Chemical Valley (part 1/2)”. 2013. Produced by VICE, August 14, 2013. Youtube video. 

“Canada’s Toxic Chemical Valley (part 2/2)”. 2013. Produced by VICE, August 15, 2013. Youtube video. 

Copeny, Mari. 2019. “The Flint Water Crisis Began 5 Years Ago. This 11-Year-Old Activist Knows It’s Still Not Over.” Elle, April 24, 2019. 

“Is Ecofeminism Still Relevant?” 2019. Produced by Our Changing Climate, April 26, 2019. Youtube video. 

Konsmo, Erin Marie, and Pacheco, A.M. Kahealani. 2016. “When Relatives are Violenced.” In Violence on the Land, Violence on Our Bodies, Building an Indigenous Response to Environmental Violence, 20-35. Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) and Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN). 

Riley, Sharon. 2021. “$100 Million in Federal Funding for Cleanup of Alberta Oil and Gas Wells Went to Sites Licensed to CNRL.” The Narwhal, May 7, 2021. 

Taylor, Dorceta E. 1997. “Women of Color, Environmental Justice, and Ecofeminism.” In Ecofeminism: Women, Culture, Nature, edited by K. Warren, 38–81. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Tong, Rosemarie. 2018. Feminist Thought, Student Economy Edition: A More Comprehensive Introduction, Fourth Edition. New York: Routledge.

Warren, Karen J. 1990. “The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism.” Environmental Ethics 12 (2):125-146.
Wiebe, Sarah M. 2017. “Toxic Matters: Vital and Material Struggles for Environmental Reproductive Justice.” In Abortion: History, Politics, and Reproductive Justice after Morgentaler, edited by S. Stettner, K. Burnett and T. Hay, 313-33. Vancouver: UBC Press.