Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Gender and Citizenship in the Age of Globalisation

08–10 October 2008, Cairo, Egypt

Number of visits: 1933

In the period since the beginning of the 1990s, CODESRIA has been at the
forefront of the quest to harness the efforts of African scholars in both extending
the frontiers of knowledge production around issues of gender, and doing
so in a manner that ensures that for as many scholars as are active in its networks
and at other African sites of scholarly work, gender is integrated into
their frames of analyses and modes of intervention. This has been done in line
with the Council’s institutional commitment, integral to its Charter mandate, to
produce knowledge that is not only anchored in the realities of the African
continent, but which also contributes to the progressive transformation of livelihoods;
the conscious pursuit of gender equality and inter-generational dialogues;
and the harnessing of multidisciplinary perspectives. The results which
have been accumulated from the experience of the Council and other likeminded
institutions have, at one level, culminated in an efflorescence of studies
on various aspects of the gender dynamics of development, an expansion in
the community of African scholars with an active interest in gender research,
the networking of that community on a sub-regional and pan-African scale,
and the projection of the voices of its members on a global scale.

At another level, however, few will doubt that for all the progress which has
been made in promoting the idea of the centrality of gender to the robustness
of any social research and the completeness of any project of social transformation,
a considerable amount of work still remains to be done. The challenges
that are posed are many but, in summary, could be said to centre
around the need to consolidate the many critiques of development that have
been made from various gender - and feminist - perspectives into a comprehensive,
internally coherent and consistent set of alternatives on the basis of
which further advances in theory, method and praxis could be achieved. Engendering
African development requires close attention not only to the analytical
tools of the researcher but also to the production of a gendered critique
of development that questions the very foundations on which socioeconomic
and political processes in Africa rest. Such a critique is a prerequisite
for the advancement of new theoretical approaches and policy instruments.
In sum, what is called for today is a complete paradigm shift for
which new scholarship will be necessary.

Different authors have identified different entry points for the developmental
project they have in mind for Africa but these differences need not detain us
here for now. What is really important to note is that it is inconceivable that
the project of democratic development, however defined, can ever be successfully
built without a full integration of gender into the equation. And it is
precisely here that the deficits have been most in evidence in spite of all official
declarations committing governments to the promotion of the rights of
women and the equality of men and women. The dawn of the contemporary
processes of globalisation initially fuelled widespread optimism that promised
new opportunities for the expansion of the frontiers of women’s rights; several
years after, this optimism has been tempered and mitigated as much by the
disempowering elements thrown up by the global age as by the uneven distribution
of the opportunities that have been associated with it. Particularly worthy
of note in this regard are the severe limits imposed on the expansion of
social citizenship by the neo-liberal ideological and policy moorings of contemporary

Concerns with issues of citizenship are as old as the history of political formations.
As a research theme, citizenship has engaged the attention of scholars
from the earliest beginnings of political community; as a subject for political
and policy concerns, it has involved a constant preoccupation with definitions
of who a citizen is, what the rights and responsibilities of citizens are, and the
nature of the prevailing social contract. Theories of citizenship have proliferated
over the years and are as numerous in their particular preoccupations as
are the various practices of citizenship that have been developed. But for all
the long and rich history behind the concept and practice of citizenship, the
task of engendering it has remained both an arduous and unfinished business,
characterised by unceasing struggles to lift restrictions against women - and
men - that range from the patently patriarchal to the outrightly discriminatory.
Thus, while it is true that humanity has come a long way from the time when
the idea of the citizen was conceived and operationalised only in exclusive
male/masculine terms, progress such as it has occurred has been generally
slow, fragmented and uneven as to make the task of engendering citizenship
a live one with relevance that is as historical as it is contemporary. Both yesterday
and today, therefore, from a gender perspective, the central issues in
the engendering of citizenship have included struggles for the expansion of
the rights of women; the promotion of male-female equality; the reconfiguration
of femininities and masculinities; the reconstitution of the public sphere to
enhance the presence and participation of women; the politicisation of the
personal; the reform of family law; and the redefinition of the legal requirements
for citizenship.

In its historical usages, the theory of citizenship and the practices that developed
around it have been predominantly confined to the rights, entitlements,
duties and responsibilities of individual members of a given political community.
The attributes of citizenship have, however, neither been static nor uniform,
or even limited in application exclusively to individuals as opposed to
communities; rather, their content and contours have shifted over time in tandem
with broad changes occurring in society. As they have developed, global
influences have also always been refracted into national-territorial spaces to
feed into local struggles over citizenship, propelling its negotiation and renegotiation
as part of on-going quests for a redefinition of state-society relations.
Similarly, local struggles have resonated in the global arena as to stimulate
world-wide movements for the engendering of citizenship. But of all the
phases of globalisation which humanity has experienced, perhaps none has
excited as much interest in the possibilities it seems to offer for the simultaneous
deepening and expansion of the spaces for the exercise of citizenship in
general and genderised citizenship in particular than the contemporary one.
Underpinned by an information and communications revolution, it appears to
promise a more mobile, integrated, and cosmopolitan world with the distinct
prospects for the emergence of global citizenship.

Within the context of the opportunities offered by the structures and processes
of contemporary globalisation through the creation of borderless spaces
that transcend existing national-territorial boundaries, new windows for the
exercise of voice, the negotiation of belonging and the expansion of recognition
have been opened which have carried direct and beneficial consequences
for efforts at redefining citizenship from a gender perspective. In offering
new openings for both a redefinition of citizenship and a simultaneous
infusion of new gendered contents into it, globalisation has had important empowering
benefits both locally and internationally that deserve to be explored
further. But contemporary globalisation has also had adverse consequences
for struggles at engendering globalisation, these adverse consequences
also manifesting themselves as much in local as in global arenas in a
variety of forms. Attention has been drawn, for example, to the world-wide
deficits in social citizenship that have been in evidence over the last two decades
and their manifestation in increasingly feminised forms of poverty.

Participants in the 2008 CODESRIA Gender symposium would be invited to
consider the mixed landscape of gender and citizenship that has been
forged out of contemporary globalisation with a view to reflecting on ways of
overcoming the new barriers that have emerged alongside the old obstacles
that have persisted in the search for a better engendered citizenship. The
symposium will, among other things, assess the:

· Theories of local and global citizenships – and the interfaces between them -
as viewed from a gendered perspective;

· Practices of local and global citizenship – and the interfaces between them
– as viewed from a gendered perspective;

· Modes and patterns of the refraction of local-level concerns into global
processes and struggles around gender and citizenship;

· Impact of global processes on local struggles for engendering citizenship;

· Roles of local and/or global civil society in the mobilisation of gendered
citizenship in the context of contemporary globalisation;

· Gender ramifications and consequences of the deficits in social citizenship
associated with contemporary globalisation;

· Dialectics of multiple identities and citizenship in a global age;

· Tensions between national-territorial administration and multiple citizenships
and their consequences for the quest for an engendered citizenship;

· Articulation of gender and citizenship in borderless spaces;

· Masculinities, femininities, and citizen identities in a global era;

· New forms of international commodification of citizenship and their gender

· New forms of trans-national commerce in girl and women citizens;

· Gendered patterns of citizen mobility in the era of globalisation;

· Cultures of Globalisation and their implications for the citizenship of women;

· Re-thinking citizenship in a global age: Alternatives open to women and men
in the quest for gender equality.

Scientific Report


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