Review by, Dr. Pape Chérif Bertrand Bassène :
Gender and citizenship in the global age / Genre et citoyenneté à l’ère de la mondialisation,
Laroussi Amri, Ramola Ramtohul (dir.), 2014, Dakar : CODESRIA, 348 p. ISBN 9782869785892
Gender and citizenship in the global age is a collective work edited by Laroussi Amri senior researcher and member of CODESRIA and Ramola Ramtohul, researcher at the Institute for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The texts in this volume were first presented at the 2008 CODESRIA colloquium in Cairo on gender and citizenship. CODESRIA is committed itself to demonstrate leadership in the mobilization of African academics to be at the forefront of knowledge production on gender issues.
For the problematic of political citizenship in Africa has been identified since the 1990s, in terms of political representation aimed at the equality of women and men, and to put it into perspective through different associations of the civil society. Thus, this book of 314 pages, explores the contribution of African experience and identity to the debate on gender and citizenship in the global age.
In the introduction (pp.1-28), the editors have realized that there are many ways to classify thematically the texts presented here, and according to the reader’s understanding. Just as their analytical contents while remaining within the main theme of gender and citizenship, give the possibility to identify various subtopics such as: "The body; Laws, protocol texts, international treaties; The public sphere and the private sphere; Leadership and chiefdom; Obstacles to women’s advancement; and Globalization" (p.20). Thus, this descriptive review will be limited to provide a linear analysis of the various texts without trying to combine them into a thematic subdivision.
The first text focuses on the issue of "Citoyenneté, démocratie et genre: Le principe féminin comme alternative d’ensemble à la société actuelle"(pp.29-60). The author, Laroussi Amri, did observe that from the "Athenian democracy to European democracy, two categories of people have always been considered undesirable: women and foreigners." This is why, in his theoretical approach, he sees in woman, a global alternative in the construction of the Tunisian society that is of particular interest.
Jacques Tshibwabwa’s, "État, mondialisation et citoyenneté multiculturelle: femmes bantoues et femmes pygmées face au genre et aux politiques publiques" (pp.61-97), adresses the issue of categorization of women. The author considers the question of multicultural citizenship and among other things, the construction of citizenship with respect to two categories of women, the pygmies and Bantu women. This interesting study tackles the issue of intra-gender relations, when the two categories of women in Zaire face the problem of their citizenship.
“Masculinities, femininities and citizen identities in a global era: the case study of Kiambu District in Kenya, 1980-2007” (pp :99-119) as proposed by Felix Kiruthi demonstrates the existence of a "strong connection between globalization and the construction of masculine and feminine identities in Kenya where women continue to be side-lined from the centre of political, economic and social development".
The text that follows, raises the question of whether, “the crowning of female chiefs and notables, is a demonstration of gender sensitivity on the part of traditional authorities or a fallback strategy in the modernization/globalization era of increased costs of human development? Is it a demonstration of good governance as advocated by developed democracies?" Those are the questions that Prudentia Fonkwe Tamonkeng tries to answer in her study, “Acquisition of new citizenship in the global village through the emerging female chiefship and notability in Bangwaland, Cameroon” (pp.121-150)
Ivan Marowa is interested by the issue of, “Globalisation, masculinity and citizen migration: rethinking gender in the twenty first century with reference to Zimbabwe” (pp.151-169). He defends the idea that “globalization is much more masculine in its ideology than gender neutral”, and that there is an "urgent need to reorganize and re-examine the concept of globalization to address the fact that globalization policies have remained gender insensitive and that its unwritten attitudes and beliefs control the pattern of conduct in the social, economic and migration areas".
Mfon Umoren Ekpootu studies, “the body as a tool: female youths in Nigeria negotiating the new global order” (pp.171-186). She explores the engagement of Nigerian female youth in the sex industry as a remedy to deprivation and marginalization. She also questions, the way globalization shapes the activities of young female Nigerians in their negotiation of the economic space through the use of the body as a tool.
In the same register related to the female body , the ways women are depicted in the lyrics and images of popular is the trust of the study: “ Genge videos? Struggles over gender and citizenship in Kenya” (pp.187-207). The author, Hezron Ndunde Otieno, “examines patterns of gender struggles over citizenship among the youth in Kenya by investigating the discourse of music videos, particularly the locally produced videos known as Genge.
In his well-researched text, "Citoyenneté et développement humain au Maroc face aux différentes formes d’exclusion: une approche genre" (pp.209-244), Mustapha Ziky tries to "highlight the effects of gender inequality on citizenship and human development. The author focuses on the forms of inequality that women suffer and how they affect the citizenship and the development process of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Uganda appears to provide good results in terms of empowering women. This is certainly what the text of Sabastiano Rwengabo demonstrates, "Uganda’s gendered polity since 1995: reconstitution of the public sphere to enhance the presence and participation of women” (pp.245-265). To this, we can note that according to the author, "women took part as rebels and rebel commanders in the earlier struggles of the National Resistance Army/Movement, they secured for themselves some influence on the politics of the country because of their role in the rebellion.
Kenyan women, can rely on international instruments for their rights and freedoms. Indeed, Samwel Ong’wen Okuro’s study, “Globalization and the gender question: the role of the CEDAW in enhancing women’s experience of citizenship in Kenya” (pp.267-292) addresses “the extent to which the government and civil society organization have appropriated the CEDAW to agitate for gender-friendly legislation".
On an island like Mauritius, where globalization has a direct impact due to the fact that the island is largely dependent on international trade; Ramola Ramtohul, the author of, “Globalisation and gendered citizenship: the Mauritian scenario” (pp. 293-315); highlighted key areas in which globalization affects positively or negatively women citizenship on the Island.
The last contribution of this book is Sharon Groenmeye’s, “Rethinking gender and citizenship in a global age: a South African perspective on the intersection between political, social and intimate citizenship”,(pp.317-335). The author first recognizes that South Africa is an example of constitutional democracy, where women have similar rights to those of their male counterparts. However, her study invites the reader to take into account the "forms of Citizenship in Apartheid South Africa" and to "comprehend the disjuncture between formal equality and the reality of contradictory practices of citizenship".
Since the 1990s, the CODESRIA has engaged a debate on the state of development in Africa so that it is built on democratic principles or on social / institutional basis in the perspective of including gender in its theoretical foundations and weave gender concerns into the fabric of planned operational policies. This work, Gender and citizenship in the global age is part of that debate, it is a presentation of case studies of different African contexts, illustrating the gendered aspects of citizenship as experienced by African men and women". Thus, as mentioned in the fourth cover page, this work is not exclusive in terms of theorization of the problematic. However it focuses on African contexts, with an in-depth analysis taking into consideration local culture and practices and their implications for citizenship, it provides a good foundation for further scholarly work on gender and citizenship in Africa".
Laroussi Amri, Ramola Ramtohul (dir.), 2014, Gender and citizenship in the global age / Genre et citoyenneté à l’ère de la mondialisation, Dakar : CODESRIA, 348 p.