2 February 2016
Transnational feminism is a contemporary feminist approach. It draws on intersectionality as strategy in the study of nation, gender, race, sexuality and economic exploitation in the context of global capitalism. However, one is required to differentiate transnational feminism from international feminism. The latter dates back from the early twentieth century and the first wave feminism with organizations like Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the International Council of Women, the International Alliance of Women. One the other hand, transnational feminism is more current and linked to the globalization Social, economic and demographic changes in local and international levels have contributed to the rise of transnational feminist connections from around 1900s to the 90s but most of transnational feminism has taken place within postcolonial feminist studies. Recognizing the modern day context of colonialism, racism and imperialism is crucial to transnational feminist practice although there remains critique of a large gap between theory and practice. Following this reasoning, transnational feminism resists utopist, romantic terms and ideas such as “global sisterhood” (a form of social solidarity defined on the basis of characteristics shared by all women, such as a common gender identity or experience of patriarchal oppression) while working to open the doors for more productive and fair social relations between women across borders and cultural backgrounds.
Transnational feminists embrace the outlook of examining issues from a global perspective while taking into account how they intersect with their lived experiences in the local contexts. Second wave feminism contributed actively in theory and research exposing the gendered foundations of nationalism, disappointment with male-dominated socialism, religious politics. All this indeed has played a significant role part in the emergence of transnational feminism. The rapid and ever growing process of globalization occurred somewhere at the same time with the feminist critique of the male biases within the projects of development and nationalism. Also, the liberal trade order, emergence and growth of the internet and technology in general, global mass culture, the decline of the welfare state, the blurring of national borders and international organizations conferences have shaped gender and gender is shaped in return.
Seen by some as a form of alliance operating in a privileged in-between space where inequalities between women can be acknowledged and deconstructed, transnational feminism is fruitful because it involves the critique of capitalism. Furthermore, one cannot dismiss how global flows of capital, people, technologies, cultures, and global capitalism in general have created new possibilities and challenges of transnational womens’ organizing.
It is necessary to understand how women are situated globally, how they are become transnational actors how the processes of transnational and local are tangled and interconnected. Take for example our consumption practices which implicate and impact transnational processes of sweat shop labor. Undoubtedly, nowadays almost every aspect of our lives is transnational. But just because globalizing processes affect everyone, it does not mean that they affect all women similarly. These processes affect women differently based on their geographical and social locations. Hence transnational feminism acknowledges that many sides of globalization may benefit some women while unjustly burdening many others.