Course: WRDS 150.08M
Gender Inequality and Developmental Programs in Developing Countries
A continued injustice against women in developing countries occurs despite the efforts made to enact social and economic change. Although international development purports to assist women living in developing countries with a form of empowerment through social and economic change, the opposite is true. In actuality, the influence of neo-liberal policies can have the inadvertent perpetuation of patriarchal norms and contribute to further gender oppression of women. Nonetheless, recent studies have focused on the growing establishment of economic as “micro-lending” (Friedrich 300; Lebaron 764). Batliwala and Dhanraj explain how the neo-liberal agenda “requires citizens to accept the reformed identity of the state as a facilitator, instead of a key agent of social and individual betterment” (25). Thus, the state acts as a medium for enacting neo-liberal policies while removing responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. The unseen hand of the market acts as a central regulator for development. In this sense, gender plays an integral role in the development of neo-liberalist policies due to the reinforcement of patriarchal hegemony regarding gender, class and ethnicity. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of neo-liberalization in perpetuating further oppression of females within developing countries. I argue that the enactment of neo-liberal policies causes the paradoxical empowerment and subjugation under the guise of developmental assistance. Thus, women are further oppressed even with assistance to be forever regaled to the role of domestic housewives and subordinated femininity.
An increasing development within the global world is the proliferation of neoliberalism as a means of enacting socio-economic change. Davies and Saltmarsh identify neoliberalism as the philosophy that perceives the “market as the sole decision maker for social and political issues while the State reduces its role in the economy causing citizens to have much less rather than more protection” (2). The effects of neo-liberalism cause an overall reduction in social assistance by the government while enabling the market to take care of socio-economic issues. Thus, the onus falls on individuals and their families to be able to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Neo-liberal reform programs promote “market liberalisation, privatisation, and deregulation” (Jasmine Gideon 1270). Developing nations face greater pressure to adopt neo-liberal policies due to the limited availability of public resources and funds. Hence, the use of deregulation and privatisation enables capitalism to take its course in solving a social problem. Nonetheless, the government then becomes negligent for its inability to provide for its citizens. Effectively, women and children are affected by these neo-liberalist policies because they are at the mercy of the market. Current theories on neo-liberal discourse hypothesize that neo-liberal policies create “assumptions of economic growth and stability, financial transactions, and human behaviour are intrinsically gendered while being presented as universal and neutral” (Griffin 223). Therefore, the introduction of neo-liberal policies reinforces the concept of patriarchal hegemony in the form of gender stereotypes while maintaining the structural stability of the traditional family. From this perspective, the notion of patriarchal hegemony creates what is known as the idea of “hetero-normality” through the “reproductive dominance of normative heterosexuality” (Griffin 225). Developing societies enact neo-liberal policies in order to preserve normative heterosexuality.
The role of non-governmental organizations can play an integral role in improving the overall well-being and socio-economic development within a country. However, controversy can also arise over the role