ROSE BATT: Welcome, everyone. And I want to thank all of you for coming to this annual distinguished lecture in honor of Alice Cook and Lois Gray. My name is Rose Batt. I'm a faculty member here. And we're honoring both Alice Cook and Lois Gray.
And these are two of the most distinguished-- more distinguished-- women who helped found the ILR school, among many, actually. And I first want to have Lois stand up. She's here today. And--
She's been with the ILR school for 72 years and still goes into her office in New York City and just published a new report on arts and entertainment in New York. I also want to introduce Pam Tolbert, who holds the Lois Gray Professorship here at Cornell, at the ILR. There she is, back there.
And I want to recognize several co-sponsors. We really appreciate your support. They include the Center for Study of Inequality, the departments of City and Regional Planning and Development Sociology, the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Institute for Social Sciences. And we appreciate that.
I'm going to take a few minutes to give you some background before I introduce Lourdes. We started this lecture in 2004 to honor the legacy of women in ILR who dedicated their lives to promoting gender equality and social and economic justice throughout the world. They used their research to advance to policy and action. They were true scholar-activists.
This year, we are honored to welcome Lourdes Benería, who is a Professor Emeritus from the City and Regional Planning School at Cornell, as our distinguished lecturer. Well, she's right here.
So now, for a brief background. Many of you knew Alice Cook but many didn't here. She died in 1999, right after completing an autobiography entitled A Lifetime of Labor. And it really dedicates-- she describes 100 years, almost-- 95-- of dedicated work to the labor movement and to labor scholarship, beginning when she was 14.
She marched in front of the White House with her mother for the right to vote. She went to Germany in the '20s to learn about the workers education movement so she could bring that back to the US and then use it in the labor movement in the '30s in the United States. She was asked to go back to Germany after World War II to help rebuild the labor movement there.
She went to help in Japan in the 1950s. She joined the ILR School in 1952 and then, for the next 20 years, published on women in unions, comparable pay for comparable worth, work and family policy, and, particularly, how women could gain roles in unions. She integrated the faculty club at Statler, which, at the time, did not allow women to join.
And after she retired, she continued to publish for 25 years, until her death. Now, I want to turn to Lois, who was a founding member of the IR School in 1947. She holds the McKelvey Grant Chair in Labor Management Relations. At 22, she had been hired by the NLRB to be in the office in Buffalo and immediately was picked up by the ILR School to start and head up the first Buffalo extension office in the school, moved, then, to head up the New York City district office, then moved to become the associate dean of all of the state of New York.
And in that time, she built out a series of really important programs-- the Institute for Women and Work, the Latino Leadership Center, the International Worker Exchange Program, the off-campus credit and certificate courses for workers and union leaders so that they could upgrade their skills and training and get better jobs. She was recognized by three governors who appointed her to be chair of the Apprenticeship and Training Council.
And in doing all that, she still had gained a PhD in economics and was writing and publishing about labor markets, about gender and work, about labor management relations and labor education. And she has continued to do this, as I said, until now.
Now, let me turn to Lourdes, who, again, has a lifetime of commitment to women and labor and equality. And she exemplifies this tradition. She was born in the northern mountains of Catalonia. And she told me the story of how, in order to get to school, at a young age, she started walking miles across a ridge on a mountainside-- that I saw-- miles to get to another town, where she stayed with her relatives for the week in order so she could go to school.
She then went on to get a bachelor's in economics at the University of Barcelona and then a PhD in economics at Columbia, just like Lois, and worked at Rutgers before joining the Cornell City and Regional Planning School in 1987. There, she held various leadership roles, including a Latin American Studies Program and the Gender and Global Change Program.
She's co-authored or edited 15 books, innumerable articles, and just published an updated, revised version of her classic book entitled Gender, Development and Globalization-- Economics as if All People Mattered. Her commitment to improving jobs and income of women is evident in the many roles she's played on advisory boards and national organizations, non-profits, academic institutions, and international organizations such as the ILO, the UNDP, the UNIFEM-- now the UN Women's Organization-- the World Bank, and she's former president of the International Association for Feminist Economics. So there's much more to tell, but I'm going to let her, now, tell it. Thank you.
LOURDES BENERIA: Thank you. Let's put it here.
ROSE BATT: Like this?
LOURDES BENERIA: Mm-hmm. And the box that you have. I don't know exactly what it does, but--
ROSE BATT: Right here?
LOURDES BENERIA: Mm-hmm.
ROSE BATT: I may need someone to help me.
LOURDES BENERIA: No, the way you put it, just in there.
ROSE BATT: Oh.
You have your water, right?
LOURDES BENERIA: Yeah. Good afternoon. I'm always feel moved to be here and to see all these faces and to feel honored just by the invitation that you send me, of course. So this is a sort of silly beginning on my part. But this is the way I feel. It's hard to not say anything. Anyway, I'm very happy to be here, to see so many faces that I know and that you intimidate me.
I would prefer to have all students.
But in any case, it's so good to be here to do this lecture in honor of Alice Cook and Lois Gray. In preparation for this talk, I've reread Alice's autobiography, especially the later part, which is when she talks about getting older and the years after her retirement. And I can identify with her, to a great extent, now more than when I read it the first time. The first time, I didn't read it very carefully. This time, I read it more carefully.
And you'll forgive me for giving you a little story. Lois, I don't have a story of you. I would love to have one. But I have one of Alice. And Alice's story is that when she was retired, she was in her house-- I arrived at Cornell in 1997. And some time later-- I don't know exactly when-- I went to see her.
And I asked her, Alice, how are you? And she looked at me, and she said, ah, I feel so decrepit. And the word decrepit called my attention because it wasn't a word that I was very familiar with. But you know what? I'm starting to feel a bit decrepit myself.
And so I hope I can measure up to the honor that I would like to give to Lois and to Alice, given that I feel a little decrepit. Obviously, the title of my lecture, Gender and Global Change, I realize now that it's much too big. I should have written Gender and Development only-- Reflections on a Historical Path.
Because Gender and Global Change-- such a huge field has developed in all directions. But there you are. That was the title. So I'm just saying that you adjust your expectations.
It is such a huge field that has developed since the 1970s. But my own look at it is also very personal, as it couldn't be any other way. So again, you have to adjust your expectations. Because it's from the situation, or from the knowledge, that's situated in my part that I am speaking from.
And I will go through the '70s all the way to the present. I don't know how much time I'm going to have. We didn't even talk about the time, Rose. I suppose that I can talk for an hour, maybe?
ROSE BATT: An hour, yeah. An hour and 10 minutes.
LOURDES BENERIA: Yeah. I'll begin by talking about the early years of the new field, which can be traced very concretely through the very early 1970s. And it came after a total neglect of the field of women in the field of development. I had taken courses. I had, of course, looked at research and policy at that point.
Nobody was interested-- not that I was, either. I wasn't asking good questions. None of us were when I took development courses at Columbia University. So nothing on women, no questions even asked.
But there were some anthropological exceptions, as I mentioned, that came mostly from women-- exclusively, as far as I know. Especially Margaret Mead, we all know, and June Nash and Eleanor Leacock, Helen Safa, were the anthropologists that wrote about women in the '60s. But overall, in economic circles, there were no questions asked.
But there were two turning points. The first, of course, was the first wave of feminism that led us to be interested in all questions related to women, including women in other countries. And then, there was the publication of Ester Boserup's book, Women's Role in Economic Development.
Now, Ester Boserup was a Danish economist who had done a lot of research on Africa and different countries in Africa and especially South Asia-- a little bit in Latin America, but less so. She had a wealth of historical--
ROSE BATT: We're just going to get the microphone a little closer to you so we can hear. Sorry.
LOURDES BENERIA: That's OK.
SPEAKER: I'm going to try something.
LOURDES BENERIA: Probably my voice doesn't really pick up on it, right?
ROSE BATT: That's OK. Better.
LOURDES BENERIA: Yeah? OK. It'll give me a chance to-- So what are Boserup's main contributions? Because it made such a difference. And I will only briefly-- very briefly-- summarize them.
The first big contribution that she made had to do with the understanding of the male and female farming systems-- mostly male in South Asia and female in Africa-- and with a general argument that all societies had a gender-related division of labor. We now say gender-related. At that time, we said sexual-related division of labor.
But what's considered women's work and men's work varied quite a bit across countries and region, a concept that came again later on in the 1980-- mid-1980s-- under postmodernism and the notion of the social construction of gender. In some different ways, Boserup was already telling us about how women's work and men's work could vary from country to country.
So this knowledge of the empirical reality for men and women in different countries also led her to analyze male and female migration systems-- male in Africa, and that was migration, rural-urban, not international migration, as we talk now, it was within countries, within regions; predominantly male migration in Asia-- and the countries were mostly South Asia, the countries that she studied; and predominantly female migration in Latin America, having to do with a division of labor and many other aspects, such as inheritance systems and so on in the different regions.
Boserup also told us about, and that was a, also, major contribution, that colonialism and development-- modernisation-- marginalized women, which was, at that time, a kind of a thought that we had not had before. So colonial powers brought with them the patriarchal notions that they were carrying with and the prejudices that marginalized women. And they were pushed aside into the more traditional economy, whereas men were benefiting from the development, the modernisation, of colonial economies.
She told us, also, about the material basis of polygamy. As far as I know, nobody else had really studied or had really talked about the material basis of polygamy, mostly related to African countries and East Africa, in particular, where a man with more wives could handle more labor-- could appropriate for cultivation more labor-- because land was available.
And she also underlined in her book the importance of subsistence production, in general, but also, in particular, women's unpaid domestic work, which is also part of the subsistence economy. From the economics perspective, the notion of women's contribution and the domestic economy had already been analyzed, even in the '30s. But she was talking about developing countries in different regions.
And her conclusion in the book was that the solution to women's problems, the fact that she had been marginalized, was to integrate women in development. This concept of integration of women in development became sort of a slogan of the 1970s. But I'll talk more about it. It became what was called the WID approach-- women in development approach.
Now, Boserup's book was a source of inspiration and praise immediately. But critics developed around, mainly, two issues. She did not have a feminist perspective, some of us were saying-- a feminist perspective-- because she did not focus on gender relations, on the inequality of gender relations very much at the private level of personal relations and the organization of the home economy and so forth. She did not understand, as it was discussed in the 1970s, the concepts of reproduction and social reproduction, of women's contribution to it. And so that was one of the criticism.
And the other one was that she was taking the economy as a given-- economy, in this case, meaning the development model in third world countries. And therefore, her solution was to integrate women in the economy as it was, without asking questions about the economy itself. So this-- her contribution.
The 1970s, we saw, really, an extension of Boserup's contributions in many different directions. The '70s were a period of discovery and analysis of women's subordination and the gender division of labor and gender inequalities in developing countries.
There was an institutionalization of research and action. And that contributed to it. And it had to do, mostly, with women in development approach that Boserup had been talking about. For example, there was the first conference of the UN Decade for Women in Mexico City, 1975. Remember that there were four conferences. There was Copenhagen in 1980, in Nairobi, 1985, and then, later on, in Beijing in 1995.
So that institutionalization had a very strong influence worldwide. And in many ways-- not in all ways because the UN had in it all kinds of representations of feminism from all over the world-- but in many ways, the WID approach was institutionalized also in UN agencies and other organizations.
In the US, there was a first conference on women and development-- or so we're underlining first-- on women and development in June 1976 at Wellesley College, the Center for Research on Women. Those of us who were just moving into the field at that point, we considered that a real important moment when the women in development scholars-- the scholars that became associated with women in development-- presented their papers, and there were some discussions.
Also at the Wellesley conference, we began to see the tensions that developed later, much more, between women in the North and women in the South. And the papers, for those of you who want to look at bibles-- those are bibles of the field-- the published papers of this conference were in Science in '77 and then became a book. And I'll talk a little bit later how the published product was a bit different from the conference itself.
And then in UK, the so-called Sussex Conference on women and development also took place in 1978, also being a first at the international level. And those of us who went there can see, like, the fathers of what was to become in the field of gender and of women in development.
And in particular, among this institutionalization that I'm talking about, I want to point out-- I want to mention-- the ILO programs and rural women because it was part of this institutionalization within the UN. And it was the first program in the UN system, especially the specialized institutions of the UN, a first that was dealing with women and development.
And I became the director of that program. And that's why I want to talk about it because I can remember-- am remembering-- what happened in that program as the first in the UN system that was focusing on these issues-- on many different issues. The program was set up in 1975, 1976. And the first coordinator was a Australian woman, Ingrid Palmer, an economist who could not stay more than-- actually, she stayed less than two years-- because of the sexism of her colleagues.
This was not written. I know that that's why she left. She couldn't take it. So I'm saying that because it gives some clue to the kind of environment that there was an institution like the ILO when it came to being interested in women's issues of whatever, or whatever kind.
And so what I thought I would say here is that there were some emerging issues at that point. I went there in 1978. I was there for two years. And the emerging issues in the program probably reflected the emerging issues everywhere, although there were some very specific to the ILO.
The first theme that we dealt with at the ILO was that we wanted to know more about the nature of the sexual division of labor across countries. When I got there, Ingrid Palmer had already commissioned studies. And the results of the studies were coming in. And I was very stunned to see these studies with a description of what women do or men do in this country-- in Papua New Guinea and Ghana, in Bangladesh, different countries-- and see that-- it was interesting to see that.
But my question at that point-- and those of my colleagues, the ones I could persuade to be a little interested in the issue-- was how can we generalize from these specific studies? Can we really start to theorize? How do we go from this specific case in Bangladesh or West Africa or Papua New Guinea? Can we see something in common?
And there was, when the concept of reproduction started to show up, coming from history in the US that some historians-- they were beginning to use the concept of reproduction in their research for families research and also some anthropologists like Kate Young in England that had done some work in Mexico-- the concept of reproduction, the connection between production and reproduction-- whatever women's work was like-- and reproduction seemed to be very logical. And that's what we began to explore.
For example, in the case of African women traders-- the so-called market women in East Africa-- that at that point-- I don't know now, I haven't looked at the statistics now-- but at that point, some of the countries, 90% of the retail trade was controlled by women. But the trade was in the marketplace where women would go every day, carrying their children or cooking their meals. And so reproduction and production were very close together.
And I should also say that the counts of the reproduction was coming from a unorthodox source, certainly, at that moment at the ILO, which was the concept of Engels, that the normal economies-- or social scientists look at the economy as if it didn't have reproduction, and that reproduction is so important that it, to a great extent, it shapes the division of labor and women's work. And the African women traders were given as a very good example.
Another theme that the period, at that moment, was the understanding of patriarchal traditions across countries and the gender-related norms that influence so much what men and what women did in their lives. So there were really unexpected results that come to mind. I remember discussing, for example, the fact that a study had been done in Bangladesh were asking women-- most of them were working, had some agricultural job working in agriculture-- asking the question, what would you like your daughter to be like when she grows up?
And many of them had answered to that question, I would like her to be secluded. And it didn't make enough sense, at first, when we saw this result. But then, once you study other things rather than the answer itself, we realized that they were answering that way because a seclusion meant a higher social status and also much less work in agriculture. Because it was difficult work.
So for us, it didn't make enough sense until we discussed it later, and we started to look at the economy and other factors. It didn't make enough sense that women would like their daughters to be secluded.
Other questions, or other themes, had to do with how to build a feminist program around women in development in an institution such as the ILO. Questions that we were asking all over the place-- universities, other places-- what did it mean to build a feminist program?
The ILO actually had a program on women, which was women and crafts. But it was very obvious that what the program did was to just get women stuck in the production of some crafts that had not much value in the market and not much future for them to become women with some degree of independence, economically speaking.
And finally, a theme that became very important for my work, actually, but not just my work, was the invisibility of women's work, in general. Remember that expression, my mother doesn't work. Doesn't work? Maybe she works 16 hours a day.
So in general, and also, more specifically, in labor force and national accounting statistics, remember that the ILO is the organization in charge of collecting, on the international level and country by country, the statistics on labor. And so that became an important project-- sorry-- that, over the years, I've been calling the accounting project in which many, many, many people have been involved over the years.
And for me, it started with a so-called paradox of showing a small town in northern Morocco where I saw, in November, when men didn't have much work because they were dedicated to the tourist industry-- there were no tourists-- whereas I saw in the town many women working very busy with bread on their heads and taking them to the town's bakery and washing in the brook-- in the town's brook-- taking care of the children at the same time. So I had done my-- not just me-- we had done our homework looking at statistics for labor force participation of women in Morocco. And it said labor participation in Morocco, 7%, 8% for women, 70%, 80% for men.
And I thought, I had not thought about this question yet before. And there's something wrong with these statistics. And back to Geneva, I remember in one first seminar with my colleagues, I proposed a change and that we should do something about these statistics. And the proposal was not received with very good eyes at that point. Later on, some of my colleagues became very, actually, very supportive, but not at the moment yet.
So the accounting project really caught on in many quarters-- not just at the ILO, in many other areas. Because it was not just underestimation of women's work but also underestimation of women's work in national accounting statistics. So we had both aspects.
And the contributions to this project-- I just mentioned here Marilyn Waring-- later on. She, actually, was working in the early '80s on this issue, a member of parliament in New Zealand who happened to be very good at publicizing and making these ideas in the accounting project much more visible. She came up with, in 1988, with her book, If Women Counted. Many of you probably have seen it because it became a movie and was very well-distributed. Many have seen it.
But in the meantime, we could see how the people that were working on this project-- and there were more, and there was a lot of enthusiasm-- for me, it became, although I was very happy about it, it also became what I called then the Nairobi's blues. Because when you saw women in poverty, not just in Nairobi but in other places of the world, we were wondering, is the better statistics or better accounting of women's work going to help these poor women, the poorest women? And I remember going through this doubt at some point of time.
But of course, the idea that better accounting was going to make a difference, for example, in the importance of getting to know women's work within countries in small ways, as well, but especially their contribution to the labor force in national accounting statistics, making it more visible, the understanding of the care economy-- that, we did not call care economy at that time. This didn't happen until a bit later.
But it has been very useful to have better statistics to understand the care economy-- also, the understanding of poverty and women's poverty, in particular, and for the economy, as a whole. I think not many people would doubt about the importance of this project and the improvement of statistics in both directions.
And one thing through time, the UNDP was very useful in the project. Because in preparation for the Nairobi conference, they put together a committee that came up with, actually, the first project with estimates of a contribution of women and men to national accounting statistics in 31 countries, North and South. And it was the first time that it had been done at the international level.
Some of us were in that committee. And we had Amartya Sen, who was already a well-known person who had worked on women's issues. He had already written "The Missing Women" articles. And so the fact that Amartya Sen was there was also a help to push, getting some of what we did published that otherwise might have been a bit difficult.
And UNDP, that already had included a gender development index, a gender inequality index, in the Human Development Report since 1990, was also able to move ahead with a project of better accounting and was a big contribution within the UN system. At that point, I remember Amartya Sen saying-- because the results of these 31 countries was very interesting.
It was very obvious that women's participation in non-market work was much higher than men's, whereas men's participation in market work was much higher. Now we know much more about this. But it was the first time that it had been done on a comparative basis. And it was quite striking to see the results.
So I remember when we had those results that Amartya Sen, one day, said-- they wanted to publish an article in The New York Times-- and he said, they're not going to believe us-- the results-- because they were so striking. And there were some doubts-- not among the women in the committee, among the men in the committee-- there were some doubts about whether they wanted it published.
Because the UNDP had developed-- because it was dealing with women's issues-- it was developing a reputation of being too soft, giving in to women's demands and gender. The World Bank, they're not going to believe us. Because the World Bank wasn't dealing with gender issues at that point. I'll talk about it later.
So the project moved on with involvement in much more sophisticated methodology to understand women's work and their contribution, in terms of statistics of all sorts. We saw evolving methodologies and evolving themes-- for example, the time use studies that have been carried out all over the world.
Most countries now have statistics about the contribution of women to national economies and comparisons with men, concept of multitasking and time intensity, analysis of the care economy, as I already said, time poverty-- the concept of the time poverty. We may be poor not just with our economic resources but with the fact that women, especially-- and there is inequality here, too-- in time poverty between men and women.
So this project that started in the late 1970s, early '80s, has moved in many directions that have accomplished a great deal by many people, even in macroeconomics. For example, Maria Floro, an economist at American University, now has a study that will show the feasibility and importance of integrating paid and unpaid care sectors into macroeconomic modeling and design. So it's getting this project from microeconomics-- it started there-- all the way to macroeconomic policy. A word about the theoretical frameworks used in the field.
Sorry about that. I'm not sure this works. Let me see. Is it working?
LOURDES BENERIA: OK. I would say that, initially, the field of women and development was dominated by the so-called grand theory of the 1970s-- very typical perspectives of that period. And in US, in particular, it was liberal feminism that dominated the field. For example, the Wellesley conference was criticized by many women, especially women in the left and women from the South, for being a feminism that didn't have enough questions about-- remember that we are in the '70s-- it didn't have enough questions about the system itself about the capitalist development model.
And in the finished version, or the published version, if you look at the two of them that, at the Science publication, as well as the book, there is some representation from the South-- and especially from the South-- women that criticized the conference for having had only liberal feminism from the North. And so that's why I was saying that this was the beginning of the tensions that developed later on in a much more obvious way.
So in the US, well, as the conference was a typical example of liberal feminism, outside of the US, left perspectives were, in research and in action, were better represented, as reflected in the Sussex conference, which included papers with socialist, feminist, and left approaches. So this, of course, was very important to many of us. Looking at it from the perspective where we are now, it's probably a little hard to understand why we were really-- we did not agree a little bit more, as it happened later on. But I'll get to it later.
In the 1970s, many women from the South-- from southern countries-- we were calling, they're not quite feminist yet. Because they see things in a very sort of perspective from Marxist and left. The parties-- many of them were members of parties.
And feminism had not, it seemed to us, it had not been developed very well. They were talking from the left rather than from feminist platforms. An example would be they saw poverty more as generated by capitalism and class differences more than by the fact that, for women, women's poverty also had to do with gender inequality and their situation there, the sexual division of labor and women's subordination, women and patriarchal forms.
Yet, in the Copenhagen conference, we rather saw a change. I remember very well Latin American women beginning to ask questions that seemed to us more feminist in the sense that it's not just the system. It's also patriarchy. We still were using the concept of patriarchy at that point.
Or it has to do, also, with the inequality and the tensions-- the gender tensions-- within the household and aspects that have to do. And those was where the feminist aspects rather than the economic aspects that were more emphasized earlier on.
Now, of course, these theoretical approaches changed very much in the 1980s. Do I start counting from-- let me see-- from 4:30? Did we begin at 4:30? Can I speak a bit longer? I can see I have to go faster.
The mid-1980s, we saw the turn to gender analysis in postmodernism, post-structuralism, that many of us have been practicing since the 1980s. Now, postmodernism suddenly shook up the theoretical empirical paradigms of the 1970s and the stable categories that we have been used. So I talked about the stable categories of the 1970s, almost, with the conviction that they were too stable, perhaps.
But in any case, in the mid-1980s, Joan Scott talked about the power of gender as an analytical category, as a social construction-- you all know about this-- that affected the field of women in development. "Gender" was not a substitute for "women." Because information about gender also gave us information about men.
So this was one of the main contribution of Joan Scott that led to very destabilizing way of beginning to think differently, especially the right and left feminist analysis. And we began to shift into what we now call-- and we are very familiar with it, but I remember how new it was in the mid-1980s-- to talk about feminist theory. What's feminist theory?
And to a great extent, it was a way of putting away some of the class, for example, class categories in hierarchies of the 1970s and focusing much more on gender issues. And from there, since Joan Scott said gender is everywhere, you can deal with a whole aspect of themes that we are interested in as feminists. And that, also, very much had the strong influence in the field of gender and development.
I don't have-- I think I'm going to skip this. But what we saw very quickly, we saw this theoretically disorienting period moved us to an analysis of discourse, deconstructing, but less of things. So some of the interest of the 1970s were pushed away, especially those that were focusing more on material analysis, such as, for example, Marxian, or those critiques of the economic system.
The move towards cultural feminism, in many ways, was interesting. Because it sort of pushed the left analysis away in the social sciences. But then, there was one little area that was economics that dealt very specifically with the material aspects that were being pushed aside-- for example, with the aspects of distribution, in addition to representation, that had been emphasized by post-feminism in representation rather than distribution. Within feminist analysis, that was sort of pushed into feminist economics. And that explains why feminist economics started to grow.
At the same time, in the field of women and development, there was expansion and growth of post-colonial analysis, intersection, and identity issues. I'm not going to talk about it. But the growth of the analysis of the material was very much at the corner of what became feminism in economics.
And in the field of gender and development, what had been called women and development then became gender and development. And this is what we're familiar with now. So it was no longer women and development.
And since then, there's been many other important contributions that are not part of what postmodernism pushed within the field of economics, for example, but also touching on the social sciences, in general, the so-called capabilities approach that was just developed by Amartya Sen or Martha Nussbaum, with a strong relevance for women and development, and also the human rights approach much later applied, for example, to the analysis of gender effects of a [INAUDIBLE] policy, such as in Latin America.
And so, very quickly, this leads us to distinguish between what, in the field of gender and development has been-- some people have used and they think is useful-- distinguishing between what is being called women in development-- WID-- women and development-- WAD-- and gender and development-- GAD. WID refers to the approach that began with Boserup and was so prevalent in 1970s, symbolized by the Percy Amendment in the US, 1973, which required US bilateral assistance programs to take into account the integration of women in national economies and the improvement of women's status-- right out of the integration of women in development concept. And as I said before, it was institutionalized through UN agencies and other associations.
The WAD approach, on the other hand, was much less prominent-- fewer people speaking from that perspective or working from their perspective because it was questioning, in addition to issues related to women, what kind of development are we talking about? So it came from the left.
It started in the 1970s, of course, and continued to question the capitalist model of development. And for that reason, there were very few of us in that field. And the focus on this case was the issues of class inequalities and accumulation processes in social reproduction, following the economic system, exploitation, and gender inequality in development. I think what is left of that is the importance of looking at both gender inequality or equality and social inequality-- something that I'll return to it later because I think this is still a very contemporary issue that is with us.
And then, finally, GAD, or gender and development, since the mid-1980s became, actually, a convergent point, where WID and WAD people were talking to each other and that this suddenly can speak from what happened in feminist economics. It seemed like the new gender-related emphasis and all the work, research work, that came with it, and action, as well, seemed to blur the differences between WID and WAD that we had up until that moment, and that there was a coexistence between them within the umbrella of gender and development and the conflicts within the two different paradigms that we inherited from the '70s.
But in many ways, the conflict in organizations where this convergence has taken place is still there on some level. They are still there, and we express them in many different ways-- the progressive aspect of it, more conservative analysis. I don't know. But it's still there.
And to a great extent, they're all under the gender and development umbrella that has been accepted. Interesting enough, gender and work on gender has been accepted everywhere, including, I put here, the World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum is including in its annual meetings important work on women with a lot of data, with an index of gender inequality or gender equality that is very well accepted and very well put together, in many ways.
Now, I don't have time. So I wanted to, before I return to the topic I'm just finishing, I had here wanted to add something on a very important aspect in the gender and development field, which is the understanding, since the late 1970s, the understanding of globalization of markets and neoliberalism as it refers to women's, and effects on women's, work. And here, we can distinguish very quickly between the multinationals and women, the discovery of multinationals and women, in their early-- even when the maquiladoras began to work in the US-Mexico border, all the way back-- and then the discovery of multinationals working and employing so many women in Southeast Asia in the late '70s.
For example, Barbara Ehrenreich did-- there were people that were not eventually involved in the gender and development field, like Barbara Ehrenreich and Annette Fuentes, who published the Women in the Global Factory, at that point. And it started some debates with the gender and development people, like Linda Lim, an economist from Malaysia. But just mentioning that.
And then there is the whole second period when globalization has become very generalized. And we can talk about the feminization of the global labor force, especially from the late '80s, put together by Guy Standing under the article he published in World Development, "Global Feminization Through Flexible Labor." And from then on, there's been a tremendous amount of work that has been done around these issues.
Just let me mention, for example, the work of Stephanie Seguino, who, based on, I think, seven or eight Southeast Asian countries, showed with a very rigorous econometric study how the countries that had a larger wage gap in Southeast Asia were the countries that grew the fastest and, especially, were able to increase their exports more quickly, an important point that has been made in many different ways in the literature. And also, the study done within the field at the lower levels of the labor market-- for example, those of us who work on the informal economy, women at the bottom of labor market hierarchies-- that has an implication, of course, on women living in poverty, in many cases, disproportionate percentage of women living in poverty.
But also, under globalization, under this period that we call the neoliberal era, what there has been is this acceptance of work on gender that I have mentioned before. And we've seen gender-related programs everywhere, even in the World Development Forum. And if I have time-- and I'll mention here the ILO and the World Bank.
So it leads me to asking the question, has feminism been seduced under neoliberalism? And this is inspired in Hester Eisenstein's critique of feminism in the US in her book, Feminism Seduced-- How Global Elites Use Women's Labor and Ideas to Exploit Women, where she argues that feminism lost the critical edge that it had in the early periods, including all the way to the mid-'80s.
So the question is, at the international, global level that I'm talking about, can we asked the same question? I think, yes, we can ask the same question. Because it's interesting how the inclusion of gender, as I was saying, in development programs has been so well-accepted everywhere, including not just the World Economic Forum but also the World Bank and the IMF, which have been getting into analysis of gender-related issues in a way that they had not touched before.
And for example, the World Bank Annual, Report-- 2012-- of the Gender Inequality and Development, 2012 and the Voice and Agency, 2014, it surprised many people. I remember when they came out, some people were asking, hey, wasn't the World Bank not interested in women? And the fact is that the World Bank gradually started to incorporate some gender analysis, but very gradually. As I said, when we were preparing the report for the Beijing conference, the World Bank wasn't even touching that aspect.
So these two reports by the World Bank are very interesting-- were very interesting, very rich. And of course, it was the World Bank-- very rich in data and information, and also done in a way that it did surprise us.
Because the approach of the Bank to gender analysis had been what they call the "smart economics" in the sense that if you do something for women, the economy will benefit. Or, for example, if you want to decrease the-- oh, in English, now. I'm thinking Spanish. The rate at which women get pregnant and have babies. I can't think. I can't think of the word. I'm sorry.
LOURDES BENERIA: Huh?
LOURDES BENERIA: Fertility rates. Exactly. Thank you. So if you want to-- in fact, empirically, we know that countries where women's labor force participation increased, fertility rates went down. So it was very easy to have this kind of smart economics arguments, which were good enough. But many of us were criticizing the approach of smart economics. Because it seemed to be done only for functionalist arguments and economistic arguments.
But these two reports by the World Bank were not so. In fact, I can almost quote-- I don't have a quote here-- but the reports were based on the notion that women's empowerment and gender equality were objectives in their own right, not necessarily because it was smart economics but because women deserve that equality.
And so they were very interesting report. And this kind of approach was also embodied in, for example, in the UN Millennium Development Goals. So the gender and development work has been accepted, very generally.
However, in the case of the World Bank in particular, if you read those reports, as interesting as they are, as rich as they are in the information, what they don't have is precisely what the women and development in the 1970s group-- not women in development, women and development group-- was mentioning. So we can go back to that idea. They don't have any criticism of the system itself that generates social inequalities that affect gender inequalities.
So the reports are very optimistic in terms of the very positive effects of globalization. Now, of course, we can mention a lot of positive effects of globalization. It has reduced poverty in many countries. And it has had positive effects on the employment of women everywhere. So they can be pointed out.
But also, globalization has led to the problems that we are all familiar with-- increasing inequalities, even among countries, but also social inequalities, in general, that worries us, many, across the board. So the criticism of neoliberalism that come from many quarters have to be taken into consideration when we talk about gender inequalities, as well, and the persistence of poverty, particularly among women.
So I know that I'm running out of time. I wanted to, at least, say that. Here, what I have, and I wanted to sort of answer that issue that had to do with the World Bank reports and to argue that globalization has had interesting positive effects for women. For example, women now, we find professional women everywhere in these organizations. There's been a very important increase in women's employment, in comparison with when I was at the ILO, for example-- very accepted.
But at the same time, if we're interested about the specific problems developing, what I wanted to mention, and I'll do it very quickly, is the issue that has to do-- based on a study that has come out recently on-- you probably remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse that took place in 2013 in Bangladesh where over 1,000 garment workers were injured.
And what this study, done by Gunseli Berik of the situation of women workers, now, in Bangladesh, is interesting. Well, let me say, just in case I don't have time, of what I wanted to say before, what she finds out-- very detailed statistical analysis-- has to do with how well the export factory employment has led to the improvement of women's condition. And so what she says, the export factory employment has been an enormous success in the country measured by the increase of the bulk of exports, but not for women's working conditions and living conditions.
And this is an important case to look at. Because in the 1990s and 2000s, there was a strong debate among feminists dealing with gender and development issues-- feminist scholars-- that had to do with the issue of whether it was important to press for social clauses in trade agreements-- social clauses that would set minimum ILO-like standards for workers and labor market regulations which would prevent the decline in labor forces standards under globalization, especially when multinationals, or investment as a whole, could go from country to country ever looking for cheaper labor force, for lower wages.
So there was a debate between the institutionalists, including feminists like [INAUDIBLE] and Sondra Hale, that argued very strongly for the inclusion of these social clauses. And then, there was another debate between them and other feminist included that argued, no, if the inclusion of social clauses is going to prevent some investment-- global investment-- from taking place. Because it will push wages, or at least, it will not let them decrease.
And so the mainstream economists, together with some feminists, argued very strongly against the inclusion of social clauses in international trade agreements. And of course, the fear was that there would be, for example, Naila Kabeer, someone who is from Bangladesh, was very concerned about the fact that if the social clause was included for Bangladesh, Bangladeshi women would not have the kind of increase in employment that, actually, they had. It was at the point where it was increasing very strongly.
And also, the general argument for this group of people was that the market itself would lead to improving working conditions over time. So that's why Berik's argument, published this year, her detailed analysis, is useful. Because with lots of statistical arguments, she tells us that the women's working and living conditions has really not improved over time.
First of all, the reasons for this have to do with the continuous decline in unit price garments, which have been tremendous, as you can see here. I write that, in Bangladesh, for Bangladesh exports themselves, the unit price of garments declined by 52% between 1989 and 2014.
And you know that the decline in export prices has been a general tendency everywhere, not just for Bangladesh but for garment goods, in particular, being produced at the global level. And that's why we pay the same amount or less for a shirt that was produced 10 years ago as we do now.
And so effect that this has been is that women working in this export factory employment still work long hours. The decline in prices has only been able to take place because the women are not working less, or at least, they're still working a great deal of hours. 72 hours a week seems to be a lot, as a whole.
She mentions the adverse health effects on managing stress, particularly for married women. And she talks about forced overtime, verbal and physical abuse, in many cases, for women. Ah, I'm sorry.
She talks about the significant gender wage gap and delayed payments of monthly wages-- so a lot of details that tell us that, for women, the success in Bangladesh exports has not filtered down to women. In this case, delayed payments, smaller wages, and the worst wages barely reaching beyond poverty levels, in many cases.
So here, I would argue that there is all kinds of other questions for research that are interesting in the field of gender development. Hopefully, we move in that direction, which is, what happened to multinational corporations benefits in the meantime?
We know so much about the increasing inequality worldwide. But we don't know enough about what happens at the top, how these multinational corporations generate the benefits for themselves and how it contributes to the inequality that we are talking about in the world that has been so well-documented.
So there is also a whole field developing for the field of gender and development but as well the connection between the price decline that Berik is talking about, global consumerism-- because if clothes are cheap, we all keep buying more-- and environmental problems. Many of you may know, for example, that the big chains in the production of garments have a big problem of garbage. They don't know what to do with their clothes. The amount generated is so tremendous.
I did some research on this this past spring. Tons and tons of garbage related to the garment industry to the extent that the big chains like Zara in Spain-- you probably recognize this name, a big garment chain that is in New York City, too-- has a foundation, has given lots of money-- I wish I remembered the amounts-- to researchers in universities so that they figure out-- scientists-- what to do with this.
So you can see the connection between global consumerism, the exploitation of women and low wages for them, and environmental problems. Some of the problems that-- and one of the field's thoughts which the gender and development field is moving, some of the researchers are now getting to gender perspectives and the environmental crisis. And I wanted to mention some areas of important work that's taking place within the field, which has to do with the experiences of women in agriculture and more rural economies, such as the solidarity economy, land grabs, and women, that are beginning to come out.
And I think that my time is up. And I want to conclude. And by way of conclusion, I would like to say [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. And I would say the experience of our generation around the gender and global change field-- I would say gender and development field has been very exciting to see this field developing in such different ways with so many contributions, but also, in many ways, very disappointing. And our dreams of the 1970s had not quite come through.
And what is disappointing is if you go back to this differentiation, but then going back to the women and development-- that WAD approach to women and development-- I think we made a lot of progress on the gender part. But we haven't made enough progress on the economic, social part.
So I think that putting back together the fact that feminism has really had such a tremendous influence that we see the globalization of the labor force, we see women working everywhere, we see so much that has been accomplished on the feminist gender part, but yet the connections with the economy, the connections with the inequalities and the world problems that have to be more with the material, with the analysis of what is wrong with economies that produce these inequalities, this needs to be developed.
In some ways, for me, it's like going to the 1970s. Let's go back, or at least let's continue this analysis at the scholarly level but also at the policy and action level. I'm sorry that I had to summarize too much.
ROSE BATT: So we do have time for some questions. I'm not sure we have a microphone available. So you'll have to speak up. But it would be great to have some discussion about this rich lecture and the points that Lourdes has raised.
AUDIENCE: I have one.
ROSE BATT: OK.
AUDIENCE: Should I stand?
ROSE BATT: Yes.
AUDIENCE: This may take a while.
ROSE BATT: And I'll just let you take the questions.
AUDIENCE: First of all, thank you for your time.
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Lourdes Benería gives Distinguished Lecture in Honor of Alice Cook and Lois Gray
The problems faced by women in developing countries began to receive serious attention in the 1970s. Since then, feminist scholars have advanced research and fostered action and public policies to deal with gender inequalities and improve women’s work and life opportunities.
While international organizations and national governments have taken up some of them, many challenges remain across countries, including those related to poverty and inequality. In this lecture, Lourdes Beneria, Cornell emeritus professor and a major leader in these efforts, traces the advances and setbacks in the field of “Gender and Development” – offering her personal and scholarly reflections on where we have come and where we need to go in the age of neoliberalism.
Lourdes Benería is Professor Emerita, Cornell University. She is a leading scholar of women, work, and globalization. She taught in the Department of City and Regional Planning from 1987 to 2010. She had a joint appointment with FGSS and was Director of the Gender and Global Change Program, of the Latin American Studies Program, and of International Studies in Planning.
She now lives in Barcelona, Spain, where she is a Senior Research Associate at IIEDG (Inter-University Institute for the Study of Women and Gender). In 2015, the updated revision of her book, Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as if all People Mattered was published (co-authored with Gunseli Berik and Maria Floro). She has worked with many international organizations, including the ILO, UNDP and UNIFEM (now UNWomen); and she is a former president of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE).