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Development and subordination of women in the Third World.

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Introduction

Development and subordination of women in the Third World M. Arifur Rahman Introduction A good number of countries in Africa, Asia and Caribbean became independent nations in 20 years after the Second World War. These newly independent countries characterised by distorted economy, poor or non-existent system of service infrastructure, low level of education and fragile political system became known developing countries. Since then the world is divided into developed and developing countries. The people of the developing countries almost universally desire that these countries should be developed and considered desirable by almost everybody else. In the thinking of liberal economics development and economic growth were synonymous. Modernisation theory dominated liberal development thinking. Liberal economists identified lack of capital as the most common crucial obstacle to rapid economic growth. In the 1940s Western scholars and development planners perceived that the infusion of foreign aid, investment and increasing foreign trade can develop or modernise the tradition bound Third World countries. The policies of the World Bank were also influenced by this very modernisation theory. Many policies were adopted; strategies were implemented regarding the development of the Third World countries (Wayleen, 1993). But development issue always remained a question. Modernisation did not take place in the ways that literature on modernisation stated. It became evident that inequality in society increased. Furthermore, research on the status of women in the developing countries shows that their subordinate position increased in society within the patriarchal power structure. The following sections illustrate the way women were more subordinated within the existing patriarchal power structure. The paper also analyses the view of the liberal feminism in this regard and its oppositions. However, at the very outset of this analysis this paper tries to define modernisation, development and patriarchy. Patriarchy, Modernisation and Development Patriarchy refers to male domination and female subordination in economy, society and culture. The sexual division of labour in family is the reflection of patriarchy that confines women within domestic labour. ...read more.

Middle

These were, as she termed, was 'male towns' where only men were recruited for employment and 'access to the towns was often legally barred for women' (p. 85). This was the case in South Africa and former Rhodesia while in the Copper Belt in Zambia the employers provided land where miners wives could grow food for the family. Thus leaving behind women in traditional activities continued. In the market economies of the Third World employers preferred men and created a sex-stereotyped hierarchy while women's prejudice and lack of proper qualification inhibited them from seeking employment in the modern sector. Since 'Employment in modern sector requires not only formal training, but also a certain attitude to work which may best be described as the capacity to work regularly and attentively ... Those who work within the confines of the family are not likely to acquire this attitude' (p. 214). Boserup elaborated the basic element of modernisation and attacked it as it failed to deliver the goods to women in the Third World. She pointed out that parents teach that boys are superior to girls. This is also reflected in the policy process. A boy is provided with vocational training while girls are trained to make them subsistence producers and better wives. She concluded that in some developing countries women are trained in craft and home industries and this is the first step to bring them into labour market. Inspired by Boserup a large number of studies looked at the impact of development process on women in the Third World countries. Tinker (1976) argued that development widened the gap between incomes of men and women as 'planner generally men - whether in donor country agencies or in recipient countries - have been unable to deal with the fact that women must perform two roles in society' (p. 22). In subsistence societies women carry out reproductive work and economic activity as well. ...read more.

Conclusion

The development policy makers and implementers were primarily men from the elite groups of the western societies who do not live in intimate power relationship with the poor or with those whose environments are threatened (Kabeer, 1994). Conclusion In the process of economic modernisation women were marginilized in the productive sector. Hence, the WID advocacy argued, women needed better integration into the development process. There was a reluctant view to this strategy of integrating women in development and to consider their problems within a general context of social relations. As a result integration meant small and separate projects for women, compartmentalised within the development programmes. They remained absent from priority development projects and also from the higher levels of planning (Goetz, 1991). The penetration of labour-intensive multinational companies in the Third World countries created employment opportunities for women. Since women are in the inferior or secondary position in the labour market, for similar work and output there was a differential in wages paid to male and female workers. This is an expression of patriarchal exploitation (Lim, 1997). Indeed, the availability of jobs allows women to leave the confines of the home, delay marriage and child bearing and expand individual choice. Thus they gain a relative independence from patriarchal family control (Bandarage, 1984). But their dismissal from the job due to ill health caused by the poor working condition leaves them nowhere to go (Arrigo, 1980, cited in Bandarage, 1984). Bandarage argued, when families refuse to accept them and men refuse to marry them because of their independence, some women are forced to prostitution. She mentioned another type of exploitation to women of the Third World countries through the population control programmes. She illustrated, hormonal contraceptives having harmful effects on women's health have been banned in the United States. But these are exported to the Third World countries like Bangladesh with the justification of population control at the cost of women's health. Thus it is evident that the modernisation and development process failed to emancipate women from patriarchal power rather it intensified the subordination and exploitation of women in patriarchal power relations. ...read more.

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