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Barbara Caine

The efforts of feminist groups from Latin American and South Asia, including the demand for equal representation of women on panels, greatly increased the visibility of feminist issues and created space for more feminist voices Wilson : While scholars and activists have made important breakthroughs in these areas, there is a need for further dialogue between feminist scholars and those studying globalization more broadly.

Both scholars and activists continue to debate whether transnational feminist activists should direct their attention at nation-states, international organizations, other transnational advocacy networks, or at an emerging global civil society. Scholars who see the growth of TFNs and TANs as a positive development examine how activists use these networks to bypass unresponsive states and enlist new allies. Greater transnational involvement, however, is not without its downsides for local and national feminist activists and organizations, including a shift in power toward international donors in setting issue agendas and political strategies.

Keck and Sikkink view transnational activism as a positive development. Domestic actors raise the alarm about violations and provide accurate information; outside actors use their leverage to push for policy changes. In examining a TAN focused on violence against women, Keck and Sikkink argue that the TAN successfully framed and drew attention to the issue, influenced the agendas of international conferences, and shaped the discursive positions of states and international organizations Keck and Sikkink Domestic partners raise the initial alarm and provide their transnational partners with accurate information, but it is frequently the international partners who play the key role in pushing for policy change.

Imam and Medar-Gould, for example, called on Amnesty International and other international actors to stop their campaigns against sharia cases in northern Nigeria because they were propagating inaccurate information and threatening the safety of the Nigerian women accused of sharia violations. And the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan charged the Feminist Majority with taking credit for emancipating Afghan women. Sonia Alvarez ; ; also argues that there are trade-offs between local, grassroots mobilization and transnational, professional mobilization.

Too great of a focus on transnational mobilization can lead groups to become more attuned to global issues and less concerned with local problems. The shift to transnational organizing privileges urban, educated, elite women over rural, grassroots activists.

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These studies also find that a reliance on outside funding can influence organizational priorities, encourage the splintering of organizations, and undermine cooperation among national organizations. Under what conditions are transnational feminist activities likely to achieve their goals and produce change? This represents an underlying concern for scholars who are politically committed to the goals of transnational feminist activism.

Scholars of both historical and contemporary transnational feminist activism seek to identify the conditions under which feminist activists are likely to succeed in shaping the policies of states and international organizations.

New Era or Old Times: class, gender and education

Scholars differ over which constellation of issues, actors, and target characteristics are most important in determining whether stated goals are achieved. These authors lay out five stages of effectiveness: 1 issue attention; 2 discursive change; 3 procedural change; 4 changes in policies; and 5 influence on behavior of state and non-state actors. In particular, recent scholarship has examined a number of campaigns related to issues of equal opportunity for women. In their study of the proliferation of state bureaucracies for gender mainstreaming, True and Mintrom assert that transnational networks of non-state actors have fueled the rapid diffusion of gender mainstreaming policies and agencies.

They find that transnational networks played a critical role in spreading information on different gender mainstreaming policy models and on the political strategies that could be employed by international organizations and states to promote the adoption of these policies.

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Krook argues that transnational factors specifically international norms spread through transnational mobilization account for the rapid spread of gender quotas across countries. She argues that TFNs have raised attention about the adverse effects of globalization, SAPs, and international trade agreements on women, and pushed states and IOs to make discursive change.


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In addition to raising awareness about the gendered effects of global economic policies, Moghadam finds that these networks have successfully pressed states and IOs to make procedural and policy changes. Skeptics argue that while TFNs working on economic issues have influenced the way that global economic issues are framed and have raised awareness about the ways that these policies and programs harm women, they, like the broader antiglobalization movement, have been unable to spur major policy changes.

While IFIs have softened their programs in the wake of widespread criticisms of the effects of SAPs, IFIs and world powers continue to promote broadly neoliberal policies. Violence against women was conceptualized broadly to include rape, domestic battery, female genital cutting, dowry deaths, amongst other practices. Petchesky argues, however, that previous gains by feminist activists are increasingly under attack from mobilized transnational networks that include fundamentalist and right-wing religious groups, conservative national governments, and international corporations.

Keck and Sikkink also argue that actor characteristics affect whether TANs are effective. The characteristics of the target also influence effectiveness. The targets must be vulnerable to outside pressure for campaigns to succeed. In addition, there are currently a number of different models for conceptualizing how TFNs influence states and international institutions.

In the boomerang model, when domestic NGOs operating in repressive states are unable to influence their governments, they bypass the domestic arena by seeking out international allies to place pressure on their governments from the outside Keck and Sikkink — When activists are unsuccessful at the national level, they take an issue to the EU, pressuring it to adopt some sort of policy measure. Activists then use these policy measures even nonbinding ones to press for national change.

Once a state adopts a national policy on the issue, activists then take the law back to the EU to press for stronger EU policies. Transnational feminist activists continue to be at the forefront of attempts to create more just, democratic, and equitable societies within ongoing processes of globalization. The explosion of scholarship on transnational feminist activism over the past thirty years discussed in this essay documents the creation of a new field of study that can be expected to continue to develop its own research agendas and to influence how transnational politics and globalization are studied in other fields.

Adams, M. Politics and Gender 3 4 , — Find this resource:. Alexander, M. New York: Routledge.

Feminists and Bureaucrats: A Study in the Development of Girls' Education in the Nineteenth Century

Allan, V. Winslow ed. Women, Politics, and the United Nations. Westport: Greenwood, pp. Alvarez, S. Alvarez, E. Dagnino, and A. Escobar eds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. Sen, A. Anand, A. Escobar, and P. New Delhi: Viveka Foundation, pp.

At www. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28 2 : — Anderson, B. New York: Oxford University Press. Antrobus, P. New York: Zed Books.


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    Annual Review of Political Science 4, — Bolt, C. Bunch, C. Human Rights Quarterly 12, — Cagatay, N. Feminist Studies 12 2 : — Cichowski, R. Sweet, W. Sandholtz, and N. Fligstein eds. The Institutionalization of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. Conway, J. Desai, M. International Social Science Journal , — Gender and Society 21 6 , — DuBois, E. Eschle, C. Boulder: Westview Press. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30 3 , — Farrell, A. Hesford and W.