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In “The Gender Politics of Development,” Shirin Rai discusses gender and social relation by examining the post-colonial state transformation, democratization and global governments. In this essay, I will review and analyze Rai’s examples and arguments that relate to those issues. In her collection of essays, Rai is able to use the subjects of globalization and national development to scrutinize the current condition of these subjects while taking gender into consideration.

Rai emphasizes the intersection of forms of inequality and gender. With so much emphasis on the various business-related and economic issues related to globalization, Rai brings a societal element to the subject. Her ability to thread gender in the analysis of globalization, global restructuring, nationalism and government provides a component to the global market discussion that isn’t investigated thoroughly, but these topics are closely tied. With much of the focus of globalization on the ways in which the world will change economically, the addition of a gender and development take of the situation is needed, particularly due to the fast transformation in which the world finds itself.

In her book, Rai not only discusses the ways in which globalization will play out in the lives of so many women throughout the world, she also focuses on the ways there is inequality in the world, and how globalization will play a role in changing that. For example, she uses India and China as countries that are currently experiencing much change when it comes to the rights of women, and that is a direct result of globalization, (p. 143). These nations are particularly important in the discussion because they represent all developing nations. The vast history that India, in particular, has with democracy and development provides an effective case study. She comments on how a patriarchy is sustained and how the fight is global. Rai uses examples such as post-colonialism, colonialism, Cold War politics, globalization, democracy and New World Order to make her points.
According to Rai, it is the gendered nature of the developing political economy and there are changes that are happening in a world where states and economies are moving from the development process that is focused on the state to one that is crafted by globalization. The various differences between women and men, as well as the differences between women who are in contrasting geographical and social positions, is explored in the context of their relation to their influences in politics, (p. 232). The book explores the idea of there being political and economic structures that frame the way women and men experience life. In her examination, she investigates the various consequences of the positions that each gender is in. Connections are made between the levels of government and the political narratives associated with those different levels of governance. Also, she looks at the empowerment discourse at the various levels. Finally, her book closes on the way women and men cope with the various challenges that are presented by globalization and Rai also argues that it is the women’s movements that are required to link between the redistribution of social and economic resources and the recognition of the differences inherent within. This is required if the movements are going to maintain their radical nature.

In her book, Rai discusses the various ways that the post-colonial governance, globalization, gender regimes and processes of democratization interact. Specifically, the book investigates the policies related to development in the post-colonial states, specifically India. She also looks at the performance and symbolic aspects of the parliamentary processes from a perspective that is based on the sexualized, gendered, racialized and embodied perspectives. She takes a close look at the gender-related processes of democratisation. Specifically, the book investigates women’s access to the national and political local development institutions. There is a lot of research she completed about the nature of democratisation and the way it effects the relations of gender in developing nations. Engendering governments in the developing world is important to development, (p. 249).

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The book provides a way to look at the various key issues related to nation-building and the nationalism community. In this third wave of globalization, governance and democratization, she argues that in the current gendered way that the nationalist state building practices occur, there is the creation of serious pressures for the nation to develop. Further into the reading, she talks about the ways that women have engaged with the various government institutions in these developing countries. Specifically, the book talks about the deliberative democracy, political participation, leadership, representation and feminism. Rai says that in these various engagements, there is an important emergence of new political spaces. She pays careful attention to how these debates have taken shape in India. The book provides insights into the various contributions to the feminist debates about globalization and democratization through the examples she gives. The ways that she does this is carried through both hope and despair about how women’s increased visibility and their political empowerment being evaluated today. But she identifies a persistent problem in the way that many countries still marginalize women in the economy, and in some countries this problem is even getting to be a bigger issue. By discussing key concepts of feminism and development, she is able to drive the issue home to the reader. She provides actual studies of the gender politics that are going on with development. These are both grassroots and in global institutions. In relaying these case studies, she is providing an in-depth summary of some of the debates that are currently happening throughout the world, (p. 314). The case studies that are used make the examination not only capable of being an academic study, but it also creates a piece of work that many people can understand.

The work also gives the reader a lucid synthesis of the most important issues that are related to gender inequality during a post-colonial period for many states. The various themes that are delved into in this book are closely related to nationalism, democratisation, governance and quotas. The collection of essays shows the debates that are important to the current era of globalization. In many parts of the book, Rai draws on literature that is used throughout the world and then links that information to the theories that come from the various experiences of what is considered in the book to be the “old” democracies, while there is also an analysis of the “new” democracies and how the situations in those countries have changed since democratization.

When investigating India, the world’s largest democracy, she dedicates several chapters to the country’s analysis. In looking at India, she investigates the successive ways that the feminist theorising has been a deep-rooted component to the very diverse histories that there have been in the gender development. Particularly, there is much discussion about the gender struggles that women have faced as they try to attain gender equality. However, though there is some fury about the situations that women in many of these nations still find themselves, the tone of the book is more of a mature way to look at the issues. For example, she takes a look at the disillusionments of nationalism, specifically in Africa and Asia, (p. 227). She reveals how the development and nationalism have helped to shape each other, and then shaped and also depended on the discursive frame of the gender difference. Rai links gendered development with gendered nationalism. She also talks about the various occurrences of gender mainstreaming.

The book is an important study on the gender politics and the ways they have emerged in the post-colonial developed states. Much of the text focuses on the important issues about nation-building and nationalism. The book is such an important new component to the study, as the world progresses towards globalization and the utilization of women in the economy is so important in developing these nations correctly. Because there is now so much influence from the developed nations on the nations that are underdeveloped, women’s right need to be in focus so that progress can be made now, before policies that neglect women are put into place. The most frustrating component about the conversation is the fact that some of these countries are actually regressing as global governance attempts to step in and ensure that not only the rights of women are given, but so that women are encouraged to take part in the economy and political arena of these countries. According to Rai, that starts with educating the women so that they have the information they need in order to participate in the country’s economy, rather than continuing to perform traditional roles, (p. 84). Rai says the gendered way that nationalist state-building was developed created pressures on development that were difficult to handle. When others are focusing their studies on how globalization will affect the general economy of these nations, Rai focuses on how this development will play out in the lives of women in post-colonial states. The global market is creating a culture where world values are clashing with nationalist cultures, and that means a huge amount of change for women throughout the world.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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