Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 9, No. 4, April 2013
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Gender Equality for Integral Human Development (Society)


This supplement is a digest of recent events and significant contributions to fostering gender equality - and human development - in various secular cultures and institutions. It is acknowledged that the distinction between the secular and religious dimensions is an artificial one, often blurred in real life situations. In those cases, if the material is predominantly secular it is included here; else it is included in Supplement 6. The selected items are the editor's choice. Suggestions by readers are welcomed. Reporting on good role models is a high priority. The following sections are included this month:

1. Men, Women, and Cross-Gender Solidarity
2. Men and Women in Marriage and the Family
3. The Patriarchal Culture of Command and Control
4. Gender Equality for Solidarity and Sustainability
5. Gender Equality for Adaptation to Climate Change
6. Women in Roles of Leadership and Governance
7. Men and the Changing Face of Masculinity
8. Men, Women, and the Human Habitat
9. Men and Women in Sustainable Human Development

The promotion of gender equality in society is a slow and painful process, and it is barely beginning to unfold worldwide. But it is a dynamic process, one in which progress begets progress. It is important to stay tuned to relevant news coming from all world regions and all world cultures. The Google News box displayed to the right may be helpful. Readers can enhance their web sites with their own version of this box - which is continuously refreshed as significant events are reported - by going to Google News, clicking on "Add a section," and follow simple instructions under "Create a custom section." This is a free service, but you must register in order to use the customization tool.

If you know about recent developments that should be mentioned in this page, please write to the Editor.

"How do we build a more equitable world?
If you want a formula from me,
I would say first: ensure there is gender equality"

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Elders, 25 January 2012


1. Men, Women, and Cross-Gender Solidarity

Source: AFWW and YouTube
No More War: The Human Potential for Peace

Futurist, behaviorist, and evolutionary biologist Dr. Judith Hand presents a compelling argument in her film “No More War” that if we chose to do it, we can achieve what no people before us could: a future without war. She introduces cutting edge hypotheses on the origins of cooperation, altruism and morality, indicating how they relate to the human potential for peace. The origins of war are explored, including a consideration of why men and women, in general, differ when it comes to using physical aggression to resolve conflicts. A proposal is offered that the time is right for us to mount a global, social transformation movement to abolish war and reasons are given for why we can, at this time, embrace the goal of ending war with confidence. Why participation of women as full partners with men in decision-making positions is a necessary condition, not an option, is stressed. Two complementary elements of a nonviolence campaign to end war are introduced: Constructive Program and Obstructive Program. Suggestions are offered for ways viewers can be involved in this great cause. Learn more.

A Future Without War is Judith Hand's website, where most of her writings can be readily accessed. The following are some links to material that should be of interest to readers of this journal:

Violence (war in particular) is the greatest obstacle to sustainable human development. Judith Hand is making a significant contribution to peace by pointing the way to a culture of global solidarity and nonviolence. The reader is cordially invited to visit A Future Without War for more information on this important piece of work. For some key excerpts from several authors on the general theme of "men, women, and cross-gender solidarity," click here.

Some additional supporting references and recent news:

Violence Against Women: An Integrated, Ecological Framework
Lori L. Heise, Center for Health and Gender Equity, October 2012

"This article encourages the widespread adoption of an integrated, ecological framework for understanding the origins of gender-based violence. An ecological approach to abuse conceptualizes violence as a multifaceted phenomenon grounded in an interplay among personal, situational, and sociocultural factors. Although drawing on the conceptual advances of earlier theorists, this article goes beyond their work in three significant ways. First, it uses the ecological framework as a heuristic tool to organize the existing research base into an intelligible whole. Whereas other theorists present the framework as a way to think about violence, few have attempted to establish what factors emerge as predictive of abuse at each level of the social ecology. Second, this article integrates results from international and cross-cultural research together with findings from North American social science. And finally, the framework draws from findings related to all types of physical and sexual abuse of women to encourage a more integrated approach to theory building regarding gender-based abuse."

2. Men and Women in Marriage and the Family

International Day of the Girl 2012:
Fulfill girls' potential; end child marriage

This Thursday 11 October marks the first-ever International Day of the Girl.

In a world where the adolescent girl is so often ignored, this is a day to highlight the unique challenges that girls face, raise awareness of girls’ rights and celebrate girls’ potential to change their communities for the better.

Spotlight on child marriage

Child marriage has been chosen as the official theme for the inaugural Day of the Girl: a sign of increasing awareness that girls’ empowerment will be impossible unless we address the fact that every single day, 25,000 girls around the world are married off before they turn 18.

As Desmond Tutu and Graça Machel recently wrote: “Choices define us and allow us to realise our potential. Child marriage robs girls of this chance.”

The issue of child marriage is often set aside as a sensitive ‘cultural’ issue; something that is taboo and difficult to address. Over the last two years, The Elders have worked to challenge this assumption and put child marriage at the top of the global development agenda. In 2010 they began to forge a global coalition of organisations tackling early marriage around the world. Read more about Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.

Take action to help end child marriage

This International Day of the Girl is an opportunity to highlight some of the inspiring work already being done to tackle child marriage, as well as a chance to join together and call on the international community to support programmes and laws aimed at ending this harmful practice.

With the Millennium Development Goals expiring in 2015, it is also an important moment to encourage world leaders to make the needs of the adolescent girl a focus in any post-MDG development framework.

Join The Elders and Girls Not Brides in marking the day:

  1. Watch and share our new video: International Day of the Girl: fulfill girls' potential; end child marriage

  2. Join Mary Robinson, Christy Turlington, experts and activists who will be discussing child marriage and answering your questions in a live Google+ Hangout on 11 October. We’ll be streaming the Hangout from The Elders’ website and anyone can take part by sending in questions and watching the live discussion. (You don’t need to be signed up to Google+!)

  3. Spread the word on social media: tweet using the hashtags #endchildmarriage and #DayoftheGirl; retweet @GirlsNotBrides and show your support by adding this Twibbon to your profile.

  4. Join one of the hundreds of organisations and individuals worldwide – including more than 50 members of the Girls Not Brides partnership in 30 different countries – celebrating the International Day of the Girl with activities and events designed to raise awareness about girls’ rights. Find an event near you.

    Source: The Elders, 4 October 2012

3. The Patriarchal Culture of Command and Control

The following is quoted from Wikipedia:

"Patriarchy is a social system in which the male gender role as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination. Many patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage.

"Historically, patriarchy has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic organization of a range of different cultures. Patriarchy also has a strong influence on modern civilization, although many cultures have moved towards a more egalitarian social system over the past century.

"Patriarchy literally means "rule of fathers" (Greek patriarkhes), "father" or "chief of a race, patriarch". Historically, the term patriarchy was used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modern times, it more generally refers to social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men.

"Anthropological and historical evidence indicates that most prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies were generally relatively egalitarian, and that patriarchal social structures did not develop until many years after the end of the Pleistocene era, following social and technological innovations such as agriculture and domestication. However, according to Robert M. Strozier, historical research has not yet found a specific "initiating event" of the origin of patriarchy. Some scholars point to about six thousand years ago (4000 BCE), when the concept of fatherhood took root, as the beginning of the spread of patriarchy."

For more on patriarchy, click here.

The patriarchal mindset of rivalry and domination is pervasive and induces a culture of "command and control" and transcends family relations and contaminates all human relations as well as the human attitude toward the natural habitat. An excellent exposition of the need for a good dosage of "ecofeminism" to overcome patriarchy is provided by Patrick Curry in Chapter 9 of his book, Ecological Ethics. Following are some excerpts:

"Insofar as patriarchy identifies women with nature and dominates both, they are internally linked, so the struggle to resist or overturn either must address both."

"Ecofeminism is a meeting of two strands. One is feminism itself: the awareness of the pathological effects of dominant patriarchal or (to use a more recent term) masculinist structures, both 'inner' and 'outer' -- particularly, of course, on women but also, ultimately, on their oppressors -- and the attempt to replace them with ones that also value the feminine."

"The other element is a recognition of, and deep concern about, the equally masculinist domination and exploitation of nature through the very same habitual structures of though, feeling and action that devalue and harm women."

Curry goes on to analyze the master mentality, both dualist and hierarchical: "humanity versus nature; male versus female; and reason versus emotion... the domination and exploitation of nature and women proceed by the same logic, the same processes and, by and large, the same people... only ecofeminism brings a critical awareness of the extent and ways in which the subordination of women and ecological destruction are integrally linked."

The chapter unfolds with a review of work by ecofeminist leaders such as Vandana Shiva (India) and Wangari Maathai (Kenya), and proceeds to deconstruct the androcentric (male-centered) mentality while, at the same time, making it crystal clear that ecofeminism is definitely not a matter of demonizing men. In fact, men are victims of patriarchal practices as much as women; in one way or another, domination that goes around comes around. Only an ethics of care, as in a mother holding her child, can break the vicious circle of patriarchal command and control whereby humans abuse the human habitat at their own peril. Indeed, as Lynn White proposed years ago, St. Francis of Assisi should be recognized as the patron saint of ecologists.


The Creation of Patriarchy, Gerda Lerner, Oxford University Press, 1987

The Patriarchal Family in History, Christopher Dawson, in The Dynamics of World History, ISI Books, 2003

What is Patriarchy and Why is it the Most Powerful Force in the World Today?, Mary L. Wentworth, GSN, August 2005

Patriarchy, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2008

Moving Beyond the Pathology of History: Why We Need a Shift in Human Consciousness, Jean Houston, Huffington Post, 21 September 2010


The Real Shame: India’s Patriarchy Roars Back After Delhi Gang Rape, By Nilanjana Bhowmick / New Delhi, Time World, 18 January 2013
My patriarchy is better than yours, By Hani Yousuf, International Herald Tribune, 17 January 2013
Parliament and patriarchy, Ramachandra Guha, The Hindu, 31 December 2012
Shrouded in patriarchy, Victoria Rossi, The Hindu, 15 January 2013
Benign patriarchy is deadly, , The Gleaner, Jamaica, 6 January 2013
Why we must not skirt the real issues—rape & patriarchy, Patralekha Chatterjee, DNA, 14 January 2013
Patriarchy begins with the textbook, Bhavya Dore, Hindustan Times, Mumbai, West India, 9 January 2013
No Patriarchy, No Police State, No Capital Punishment: A Report on the Rally Against Rape, Soma Marik, International Viewpoint, 7 January 2013
Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women, Vandana Shiva, Yes! Magazine, 18 January 2013
Microfinance and Patriarchy: 'A Drift Away from Serving Women', Knowledge@Wharton, Forbes, 18 January 2013
The Bible Is Man-Made: Why Patriarchy Still Reigns, George Elerick, Huffington Post, 21 ecember 2012
The tragedy of homo disappointus, Deepanjana Pal, DNA, 19 January 2013

4. Gender Equality for Solidarity and Sustainability


Aurora Javate de Dios
Janti Sudjati: Knowledge Lover's Blog, Indonesia, 16 August 2012


The paper examines and explores why gender equality must be seen as a final goal in and of itself and as a prerequisite for attaining sustainable human development goals and building global citizenship. Discriminatory practices in all areas including education, as well as traditional and harmful gender norms like violence against women limit, inhibit and eventually impede the full development and empowerment of women which is critical to the realization of these two goals.

The escalation of economic globalization has driven a demand for instrumental education which can be clearly tied to the goals of production, productivity and employment. As a consequence, programs for the development of critical thinking, humanities and the social sciences that foster a deeper understanding of global issues social justice, sustainable development and human rights have been diminished.

Given this situation the question for educators then is, how do we meaningfully utilize the enormous impact of globalization to develop and foster not only education to prepare students for jobs and employment but education that develops a deep understanding and solidarity for transcendent core values like justice, peace, equality and sustainable development.

Another purpose of internationalizing education is to expand and broaden student’s understanding and appreciation of socio-economic political realities of other countries and cultures as they relate to their own national and local realities in the hopes that such exposure can bring about tolerance of difference and solidarity for the common good. Global learning is also defined as education “that puts learning in a global context that fosters critical and creative learning; self-awareness and open mindedness towards difference; understanding of global issues and power relationships and optimism and action for a better world”.

Gender equality in educational access, participation and outcome is central to the promotion of democracy. A vibrant civic life in which citizens are engage in all aspects of society is critical to the flourishing of democratic institutions, and an important precondition for promoting social justice and human right. As Educational For All Global Monitoring Report 2011 : A Gender Review assert, education is a human right of everyone, including girls and women. Much more needs to be done in terms of educational reforms such as redefining quality of education to include : (1) transformative, gender-responsive educational processes and outcomes, (2) ensuring safety and protection of girls particularly in conflict areas, (3) higher investment in early childhood care and education is crucial for promoting sustained girl’s education, and (4) engendering school thru textbook revisions and teacher training, and providing space and support systems to encourage girl and young women to take on non-traditional subjects such as math and science.

The Human Development Report of 1995 asserted that there are four elements in the concept of human development which includes productivity, equity, sustainable, and empowerment. The human development paradigm must be engendered and based on three principle : (1) equality of rights between women and men as a fundamental principle, (2) recognition that women are agent s and beneficiaries of change, and (3) the engendered development model, though aiming to widen choices for both women and men, should not predetermine how different cultures and different societies exercise these choices. For illustration, the specific example of Miriam College in the Philippines, is used to discuss both the possibilities, and challenges of gendered global learning strategies.


I agree that the women have to struggle for gender equality by demanding rights and access to education which is a key step in their political participation and empowerment. Eventhough the role of women as equal as a man, the woman should responsible to her duty as wives, woman career, and mother. The reason above is the basic for developing the next generation in the future.

In conclusion that global education must embrace the principle of social inclusion, gender quality, peace, human right, environment and diversity as ways to develop global citizenship. Global citizenship principles, values and behavior can be proactively promoted now. In promoting education to integrated a gender perspective that requires national curricula to:

a. Unpack the historical and sociological meaning of national curricular norms;

b. Recognize (if not deconstruct) the various male and female forms of knowledge and their representations in the curricula;

c. Understand the different types of gendered performance within different school subject;

d. Be sensitive to the changing gender relations brought about by globalization and its significance in terms of male and female relationship to knowledge.

Quality and equality in education are inextricably linked (UNESCO 2004). Poor or marginalized children, who are more likely to have illiterate parents and less access to reading materials in the home, are more dependent on their teachers for their learning than are better-off children. As a result, poor instruction perpetuates inequities because it is more often the most marginalized children who become school leavers, either through failure or voluntary termination. Research has shown that girls seem to be more sensitive to school quality than boys and that the quality of teachers has a greater impact on the demand for girls’ education than for boys’ (Kane 2004).

There are four main dimensions of gender equality outlined in the framework : (a) equality of access, means that girls and boys are offered equitable opportunities to gain admission to formal, non formal, or alternative approaches to basic education. Actual attendance, rather than enrollment, is a better indicator of whether access has been achieved (b) equality in the learning process, means that girls and boys receive equitable treatment and attention and have equal opportunities to learn. This means that girls and boys are exposed to the same curricula, although the coursework may be taught differently to accommodate the different learning styles of girls and boys. Equality in the learning process also means that all learners should be exposed to teaching methods and materials that are free of stereotypes and gender bias. In addition, it means that boys and girls should have the freedom to learn, explore, and develop skills in all academic and extracurricular offerings. (c) equality of educational outcomes means that girls and boys enjoy equal opportunities to achieve and outcomes are based on their individual talents and efforts. To ensure fair chances for achievement, the length of school careers, academic qualifications, and diplomas should not differ based on a person’s sex, and (d) equality of external results, occurs when the status of men and women, their access to goods and resources, and their ability to contribute to, participate in, and benefit from economic, social, cultural, and political activities are equal. This implies that career opportunities, the time needed to secure employment after leaving full-time education, and the earnings of men and women with similar qualifications and experience are equal. (Subrahmanian n.d.).

References USAID, Education From A Gender Equality Perspective. This report was developed for USAID’s Office of Women in Development by the EQUATE Project, Management Systems International (Prime Contractor). Website:

GLOBAL GENDER GAP 2012 (World Economic Forum, November 2012)

"The Global Gender Gap Report 2012 emphasizes persisting gender gap divides across and within regions. Based on the seven years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, it finds that the majority of countries covered have made slow progress on closing gender gaps... The index continues to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women."


5. Gender Equality for Adaptation to Climate Change

This section is excerpted from
Women are powerful agents of change
CARE Climate Change

"As a rights-based organisation, CARE's climate change strategy is geared towards the empowerment of poor and marginalised people. CARE is deeply concerned about constraints that the inequitable distribution of rights, resources and power – as well as repressive cultural rules and norms – place on people's ability to take action on climate change. We believe that a wide range of development goals are achievable only if decision makers at all levels recognise the unique risks faced by poor and marginalised people and their essential roles in planning, implementing and evaluating action on climate change.

"The majority of the world's poorest people today are women and girls. Climate change is making it even more difficult for them to realise their basic rights, and it is exacerbating inequalities since they are more vulnerable to its impacts than men.

"Moreover, many women are denied access to new information about climate change and participation in important decision-making processes despite having unique skills and knowledge – about low risk farming, sustainable water management, family health and community mobilisation, for example – vital to effective adaptation.

"For all these reasons, and because women are central to the food and livelihood security of their families, we place a special emphasis on gender equality and women's empowerment."

For more, including links to other CARE resources, click here.



One specific case worthy of study in Women Bringing Solar Power to Sierra Leone, The Guardian, 15 September 2011. The following summary is excerpted from YaleGlobal, 16 September 2011.

"Developing renewables to meet the growing demand for energy is a top priority in the 21st century. So is enhancing collaboration among developing countries. By training semi-literate women from rural Sierra Leone in solar-energy techniques, Barefoot College in western India works towards achieving both these goals. Twelve women attended and then returned to villages in Sierra Leone to assemble 1,500 household solar units at a new branch of Barefoot College in Konta Line, where the training will continue, reports a blog for the Guardian. The governments of both countries have played their part; Sierra Leone invested $820,000 in the project, and India provided equipment. The vast majority of households in Sierra Leone go without power. Following its decades-long civil war, electricity is Sierra Leone's "most daunting infrastructural challenge," notes a World Bank report. Lighting extends education and socializing into the evening hours, and the women are planning on manufacturing solar units to spread the new power."

6. Women in Roles of Leadership and Governance

Source: Kaleidoscope
Joyce Banda - President of Malawi

"Joyce Hilda Banda née Mtila (born 12 April 1950) is a Malawian politician who has been the President of Malawi since 7 April 2012. An educator and grassroots women's rights activist, she was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2009 and Vice-President of Malawi from May 2009 to April 2012. Banda took office as President following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. She is Malawi's fourth president and its first female president. Prior to becoming president, she served as the country's first female VP.

"She was also Member of Parliament and Minister for Gender, Children's Affairs and Community Services. Prior to an active career in politics she was the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation, founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project. She was listed in Forbes Magazine 2011 as the third most powerful woman in Africa.

"She is the founder and leader of the People's Party created in 2011, and prior to Bingu wa Mutharika's death was considered likely to contest the Presidency of Malawi in the 2014 general election." Source: Wikipedia


7. Men and the Changing Face of Masculinity

New Internationalist

Coming in February 2013
Future Masculinity
with Dr. Joseph Gelfer

Do you genuinely want to make the world a better place? Do you want to experience greater wellbeing, and to increase the wellbeing of others? Well, here’s your chance.

Masculinity, as shaped by both men and women, has a profound impact upon the world in which we live. Yet few people stop to question the forms of masculinity that have been passed to them, let alone construct a more conscious alternative.

Future Masculinity is a course delivered by Dr. Joseph Gelfer via live web-based teleconferencing. Future Masculinity will help both men and women understand how masculinity functions in contemporary society, and how it can be re-imagined for a sustainable future.

8. Men, Women, and the Human Habitat

Vandana Shiva - India
Photo by VOCES


Vandana Shiva: Teachers for a Living World
Madhu Suri Prakash, Yes! Magazine, 27 January 2012
See also the Interview Video
Reprinted with Permission

While Ivy League schools marvel at India’s economic growth, Vandana Shiva’s University of the Seed looks to the earth—and Gandhi—for guidance.

Gandhi once burned British cloth imported from the mills of Manchester to reveal the power of the indigenous spinning wheel; and led the famous Salt March to underscore the capacities of all Indians (in fact, all human beings) to live autonomously, depending on the support of themselves and each other while throwing off the shackles of global empire.

Renowned food and anti-globalization activist Vandana Shiva’s Bija Vidyapeeth (University of the Seed), co-founded with Satish Kumar in 2001, is grounded on the four Gandhian principles of non-violence: swaraj (self-rule), swadeshi (home-spun), satyagraha (truth force), and savodaya (the uplifting of all).

Inspired by these principles, this university grown on a farm preserves a wild diversity of indigenous seeds in cooperation with thousands of farmers across India and the world, committed to the organic principles of working with Mother Earth—rather than waging war on her with chemicals.

“Gandhi and Globalization” is a course co-taught annually at Bija Vidyapeeth for ten short, intense days in November and December. Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar (founder of Schumacher College in England), and Samdhong Rimpoche (the first Prime Minister of Independent Tibet) designed this course for students coming from all continents, speaking in multiple tongues, and joined by a shared passion for both Gandhi and the end of the era of globalization or neo-colonialism.

During the last three years, I have had the privilege of joining these three great teachers in the fabulous intellectual and moral adventure of co-teaching this course with them. “Gandhi and Globalization” is one among a range of courses offered by Bija Vidyapeeth to demonstrate that Gandhi’s relevance grows even as globalization strangulates indigenous traditions of teaching, learning, living, and celebrating life and death.

Madhu Suri Prakash interviewed Vandana Shiva for YES! Magazine, a national nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Madhu is a contributing editor to YES! Magazine.

9. Men and Women in Sustainable Human Development

Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women
Vandana Shiva, Yes! Magazine, 18 January 2013
Creative Commons License

On 29 December 2012, the brave and courageous survivor of a fatal Delhi gang rape breathed her last. This blog is a tribute to her and other victims of violence against women.

"Violence against women is as old as patriarchy."

Traditional patriarchy has structured our worldviews and mindsets, our social and cultural worlds, on the basis of domination over women and the denial of their full humanity and right to equality. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the murder of the Delhi gang rape victim and the recent suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.

In India, rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990, which increased to 16496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And Delhi has emerged as the rape capital  of India, accounting for 25 percent of cases.

We need to see how the structures of traditional patriarchy merge with the emerging structures of capitalist patriarchy to intensify violence against women.

The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.

And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990’s when the new economic policies were introduced.

Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unfair economic policies and the intensification and brutality of crimes against women?

I believe there is. I am not suggesting that violence against women begins with neoliberal economics. I am deeply aware of the deep gender biases in our traditional cultures and social organizations. I  stand empowered today because people before me fought against the exclusions and biases against women and children: My grandfather sacrificed his life for women’s equality, and my mother was a feminist before the word existed.

The economic model focusing myopically on “growth” begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.

Violence against women has taken on new and more vicious forms as traditional patriarchal structures have hybridized with the structures of capitalist patriarchy. We need to examine the connections between the violence of unjust, unsustainable economic systems and the growing frequency and brutality of violence against women. We need to see how the structures of traditional patriarchy merge with the emerging structures of capitalist patriarchy to intensify violence against women.

Cyclones and hurricanes have always occurred. But as the Orissa Supercyclone, Cyclone Nargis, Cyclone Aila, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy show, the intensity and frequency  of cyclones has increased with climate change.

Our society has traditionally had a  bias against the girl child. But the epidemic of female feticide and the disappearance of 30 million unborn girls has taken that bias to new levels of violence and new proportions. And it is into this context of the dynamics of more brutal and more vicious violence against women (and multiple, interconnected forms of violence) that the processes unleashed by neoliberalism are contributory factors.

Firstly, the economic model focusing myopically on “growth” begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.

The more the government talks ad nauseum about “inclusive growth" and “financial inclusion,” the more it excludes the contributions of women to the economy and society. According to patriarchal economic models, production for sustenance is counted as "non-production." The transformation of value into disvalue, labour into non-labour, and knowledge into non-knowledge is achieved by the most powerful number that rules our lives, the patriarchal construct of GDP—Gross Domestic Product—which commentators have started to call the Gross Domestic Problem.

When economies are confined to the marketplace, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency.

National accounting systems which are used for calculating growth as GDP are based on the assumption that if producers consume what they produce, they do not in fact produce at all, because they fall outside the production boundary.

The production boundary is a political creation that, in its workings, excludes regenerative and renewable production cycles from the area of production. Hence, all women who produce for their families, children, community, and society are treated as "non-productive" and "economically inactive." When economies are confined to the marketplace, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency. The devaluation of women’s work, and of work done in subsistence economies of the Global South, is the natural outcome of a production boundary constructed by capitalist patriarchy.

The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape.

By restricting itself to the values of the market economy, as defined by capitalist patriarchy, the production boundary ignores economic value in the two vital economies which are necessary to ecological and human survival. They are the areas of nature’s economy, and sustenance economy.  In nature’s economy and the sustenance economy, economic value is a measure of how the earth’s life and human life are protected.  Its currency is life-giving processes, not cash or market price.

Secondly, a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women’s work and wealth creation in the mind, deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend—their land, their forests, their water, and their seeds and biodiversity. Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world, can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable.  The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape—the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, and of women. The only way in which this “growth” is “inclusive” is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence.

I have repeatedly stressed that the rape of the Earth and rape of women are intimately linked, both metaphorically in shaping worldviews, and materially in shaping women’s everyday lives. The deepening economic vulnerability of women makes them more vulnerable to all forms of violence—including sexual assault.

The economic model shaped by capitalist patriarchy is based on the commodification of everything, including women.

Thirdly, economic reforms lead to the subversion of democracy and privatization of government. Economic systems influence political systems. The government talks of economic reforms as if it has nothing to do with politics and power. Leaders talk of keeping politics out of economics, even while they impose an economic model shaped by the politics of a particular gender and class. Neoliberal reforms work against democracy. We have seen this recently with the Indian government pushing through "reforms" to bring in Walmart through FDI in retail. Corporate-driven reforms create a convergence of economic and political power, a deepening of inequalities, and a growing separation of the political class from the will of the people they are supposed to represent. This is at the root of the disconnect between politicians and the public that we experienced during the protests that have grown throughout India since the Delhi gang rape.

Worse, an alienated political class is afraid of its own citizens. This is what explains the increasing use of police to crush nonviolent citizen protests, as we have witnessed in Delhi. A privatized corporate state must rapidly become a police state.

This is why the politicians must surround themselves with ever increasing VIP security, diverting the police from their important duties to protect women and ordinary citizens.

Fourthly, the economic model shaped by capitalist patriarchy is based on the commodification of everything, including women. When we stopped the WTO in Seattle, our slogan was, “Our world is not for sale."

An economics unleashed by economic liberalization—an economics of deregulation of commerce, of privatization and commodification of seeds and food, land and water, women and children—degrades social values, deepens patriarchy, and intensifies violence against women.

Economic systems influence culture and social values. An economics of commodification creates a culture of commodification, where everything has a price, and nothing has value.

The victim of the Delhi gang rape has triggered a social revolution. We must sustain it, deepen it, expand it.

The growing culture of rape is a social externality of  economic reforms. We need to institutionalize  social audits of the neoliberal policies which are a central instrument of patriarchy in our times. If there was a social audit of corporatizing our seed sector, 270,000 farmers would not have been pushed to suicide in India since the new economic policies were introduced. If there was a social audit of the corporatization of our food and agriculture, we would not have every fourth Indian hungry, every third woman malnourished, and every second child wasted and stunted due to severe malnutrition. India today would not be the Republic of Hunger that Dr. Utsa Patnaik has written about.

The victim of the Delhi gang rape has triggered a social revolution. We must sustain it, deepen it, expand it. We must demand and get speedy and effective justice for women. We must call for fast-track courts to convict those responsible for crimes against women. We must make sure laws are changed so justice is not elusive for victims of sexual violence. We must continue the demand for blacklisting of politicians with criminal records.

Motivated by ancient traditions of female leadership as well as their need for improved legal rights, First Nations women are stepping to the forefront of the Idle No More movement.

We must see the continuum of different forms of violence against women, from female feticide to economic exclusion and sexual assault. We need to continue the movement for the social reforms needed to guarantee safety, security, and equality for women, building on the foundations laid during India's independence movement and continued by the feminist movement over the last half-century. The agenda for social reforms, social justice, and equality has been derailed by the aganda of “economic  reforms" set by capitalist patriarchy

And while we do all this we need to change the ruling paradigm that reduces society to economy, the economy to the market, and is imposed on us in the name of “growth."

Society and economy are not insulated from each other . The processes of social reforms and economic reforms can no longer be separated. We need economic reforms based on the foundations of social reforms that correct the gender inequality in society, rather than aggravating all forms of injustice, inequality, and violence.

Ending violence against women needs to also include moving beyond the violent economy to nonviolent, sustainable, peaceful, economies that give respect to women and the Earth.

Vandana Shiva is an internationally renowned activist for biodiversity and against corporate globalization, and author of Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; Soil Not Oil; and Staying Alive. The last section of this essay was adapted by the author from “Forest and Freedom,” written by Shiva and published in the May/June 2011 edition of Resurgence magazine.


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