chapter  4
10 Pages

Feminism and Global Citizenship

The idea of global citizenship can be characterised generally as involving the notion that the rights and duties of the individual either do or should extend beyond the boundaries of the nation-state. This is an idea which is shared by a variety of international and transnational social movements' in the fields of ecology, peace and human rights. This chapter explores the resources of one particular political movement, that of feminism, for the theory and practice of global citizenship. This is not a straightforward matter, since feminism is not a monolithic ethical and political programme in either theory or practice. Although feminist movements, to the extent that they identify their goal as the liberation of women, are transnational in principle, different feminists have different understandings of the goal to which they are committed and this frequently reflects the very different nation-state contexts within and across which feminist political struggles take place. For this reason it might seem initially that the whole notion of a feminist global citizen is misconceived, since the language of global citizenship tends to be highly universalistic and to operate with a generic conception of the human individual - one indifferent either to sex or to political ideology. This chapter seeks to demonstrate that in fact feminism is compatible with ideals of global citizenship. Falk defines global citizenship in terms of the figure of the 'citizen pilgrim', who is someone committed to 'an imagined human community of the future' (Falk 1995: 95). In this sense, feminists are a good example of Falk's notion of the 'citizen pilgrim' because they are committed to a future in which the situation of women as such is transformed (regardless of nationality or ideology). However, as we shall see, the nature of the 'imagined future' in

question, and the problem of how it is to be arrived at, continue to be matters of considerable debate within feminism itself.