Feminism in the Global Political Economy: Contradiction and Consensus in Cuba
Deborah M. Weissman
University of North Carolina School of Law
September 26, 2011
University of Baltimore Law Review, Forthcoming
UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1933857
Much has been written about the globalization of feminist networks and its impact on the local condition of women. Transborder feminist organizing has transformed local, national, regional, and international discourses and practices. Global feminist initiatives have fostered the development of international legal standards that take into consideration the needs and circumstances of women, and have contributed to the gender mainstreaming of human rights norms. At the same time, the feminist enterprise has also served to promote a neoliberal agenda that has focused on individual empowerment and self-esteem issues, and thus raised questions about who is defining the agendas and strategies for women’s struggles for rights.
An exploration of Cuban feminism in this context sets in relief the different ways that globalization impacts women, while at the same time underscores the ways that women share similar opportunities to make beneficial use of global networks. This article addresses the ways that Cuban feminism is decisively shaped by its national history as well as by the experience of colonization and neoliberal globalization, both essential mainstays for unequal global political economies. Among other issues, this article considers gendered migration strategies that have developed as a result of punitive U.S. policies and economic downturns. It also examines the gendered impact of the current cycle of Cuban economic reforms characterized by severe cuts to public sector employment that will drive increasing numbers of Cubans into self-employment (proprio cuentismo). Given that global self-employment data suggest that women fare poorly compared to men in self-employment endeavors, Cuban feminists must once again determine how to avoid a reversal of gains.
Cuban feminism continues to adapt in a globalized world, and to choose those strategies that will advance the interests of both women and the nation. As Cuba’s economy moves between socialism based on principles of social justice and recently introduced market mechanisms, Cuban women, shaped by their history and their national character, continue their efforts to advance toward full gender equality.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
Keywords: Feminism, Globalization, Neoliberalism, National Character, Migration, Self-Employment
JEL Classification: J16, J23, P20, P26, P31
Date posted: September 27, 2011