Does Global Feminism Help?

Globalization has enabled a rise of “transnational feminist networks” that work together to achieve common transnational goals: “As such .. ,‘globalization-from-above’ has engendered ‘globalization-from-below,’ producing a dynamic and transnational women’s movement that has been confronting neoliberal capitalism and patriarchal fundamentalism.”23 Some look favorably at those transnational initiatives. They look positively at the outside for inspiration, which is to global norms, treaties, and experiences. The benefit of such an approach is that one could look at what worked elsewhere, and establish mimetic practices that are likely to work, avoiding the pitfalls and benefiting from the successes.

One example of such initiatives is the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly. After the fall of the Soviet Union together with the phenomenal advancement of communication technologies, the world supposedly became smaller and thus treaties, just like the CEDAW, could be diffused easier within various world communities. Although many Arab states made reservations against some articles within CEDAW, and despite the slow progress in the application of CEDAW,24 the global movement towards women’s rights has had significant implications in those countries. Women have become more aware as to emerging worldwide initiatives and more cognizant of the potential that they have in the political and economic arenas. This has contributed to a growing discourse at various levels where stakeholders address women’s issues and their relationships to patriarchy, religion, and political will.25

There are questions, however, in respect to how such global initiatives are being implemented. There is a concern that such reservations against

CEDAW by many Arab countries are just a form of “New World Hypocrisy”26 which aims to effectively prevent advancement of women’s rights. All in all, however, some assert that there is a silver lining to all of this:

To look on the brighter side, one can at least say that all this signifies the degree to which the principle of equality for women has gained normative force around the globe - so that even the enemies of women’s rights are forced to pay lip service to it. The days of arguing for the general propositions that discrimination against women is wrong will soon be behind us. That battle has essentially been won. (Mayer, 1998, p. 21)

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