Gender Agenda

When I read the headline “Saving the World’s Women,” I was put off by The Times‘s special issue on gender. I thought “Shouldn’t we be helping the world’s women save themselves?” Far too often westerners construct women in the global South as if they are hapless victims that need to be saved from premodern cultural practices and patriarchy. Having traveled in various parts of Africa where I was able to interact with groups of women, I think that coalition building and capital are the ways to facilitate advancements in gender equality throughout the world. It turns out that a great deal of the special issue looked at how schemes like microfinancing can save women’s lives and empower them in the process. I’m still pouring through the last few pieces and am heartened by the personal stories they include. I just wish the tone of the issue did not reinforce the idea that white/western men/women must rescue brown women from brown men (to borrow from Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”).


About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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