Empowering minority women: Autonomy versus participation



Baumeister A (2012) Empowering minority women: Autonomy versus participation. Contemporary Political Theory, 11 (3), pp. 285-304.

Feminist attempts to empower women within their own cultural traditions have employed two broad strategies: authentic choice and participation. This paper argues that the methodological problems that beset the authentic choice strategy tell in favour of the participation approach. However, proponents of the participation strategy have failed to pay sufficient attention to the background conditions that need to be met if women are to make effective use of the institutional mechanisms their models advocate. If women are to be effective political agents at least some of the most serious structural inequalities that women face must be addressed. A nuanced statement of the participation strategy must therefore take account of long-standing feminist concerns regarding economic equality and access to resources. While this approach falls short of the demanding conditions for democratic citizenship implicit in the authentic choice strategy, it none the less places significant limits on the scope of participatory strategies and links the goal of empowering women within their own cultural traditions to wider feminist struggles to secure greater economic equality for women in general.

gender equality; cultural justice; Martha Nussbaum; Marilyn Friedman; Monique Deveaux; Ayelet Shachar ; Equality; Sex discrimination

Contemporary Political Theory: Volume 11, Issue 3

Publication date31/08/2012
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

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Dr Andrea Baumeister

Dr Andrea Baumeister

Senior Lecturer, Politics