Feminist Political Economy Addresses Inequities
By Julia Wartenberg, director of the Global Women’s Project at the Center of Concern
Millions around the nation continue to suffer as a result of the Economic Recession. While politicians continue to fight over the budget deficit, many are recognizing that the problems our economy is facing are structural. As such a new economic model, one that completely restructures priorities, is needed to ensure that all have the opportunity to flourish.
This month’s briefing paper from the Global Women’s Project discusses the New Economy Movement and the work the Global Women’s Project (GWP) is doing on this front. In particular, the paper focuses on the need for the New Economy Movement to address current social inequities, namely gender and race. GWP maintains that Feminist Political Economy is a perfect tool for this endeavor.
Feminist Political Economy is a heterodox, contextual economic framework that identifies the power dynamics that exist between women and men as a consequence of their gender roles. It begins with women’s experience in the household, the workplace, the community and the body politic. As such, it recognizes the multiplicity and diversity of women’s experiences as shaped by race, ethnicity, culture, economic class/caste, religion and nationality.
The power relationship between men and women, a result of the male sense of superiority which is rooted and embedded in the cultural and social systems of society, culminates in a hierarchical relationship between men and women. This unequal power dynamic intersects with, mirrors and reinforces other power dynamics embedded in institutions and relationships such as the unequal power relations among racial and ethnic groups, between the rich and the poor, the straight and the gay communities and between the countries of the global South and the North. These power dynamics limit autonomy and agency on the personal level for women and minority groups.
Not only does FPE expose various power relationships (and how these influence our lived realities) but it also elucidates how these relationships have differential economic effects on various members of society. It questions that which is generally rationalized as existing naturally. In this way, FPE seeks to deconstruct and reframe neo-liberal assumptions and refocus economic theory in such a way that it will place human well-being back in the economic equation.
Utilizing FPE, GWP is working to bring social inequities to the forefront of the New Economy Movement discussions. Because FPE studies the economy through a power framework and reframes it to include environmental and social reproduction costs, it provides us with the tools to advocate for a new economy which no longer rationalizes (consciously or unconsciously) current gender, race and class hierarchies. FPE recognizes that gender and racial stratification continue to exist and that these relationships are entrenched in institutions which structure all relationships.
To access the full briefing paper please go to: https://www.coc.org/gwp/new-economy-movement