"Saving Amina": Global Justice for Women and Intercultural Dialogue [Abstract]

From our Archives: 100 for 100
Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 19.3 (Fall 2005)

November 11, 2005

Women in Northern Nigeria via Shutterstock

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"Westerners concerned about the plight of poor women in poor countries should not focus exclusively, and perhaps not primarily, on the cultural traditions of those countries. Since gender inequality is correlated so strongly with poverty, perhaps we should begin by asking why so many countries are so poor. To do so would encourage us to reflect on our own contribution to the plight of poor women, and this would be a more genuinely liberal approach because it would show more respect for non-Western women’s ability to look after their own affairs according to their values and priorities."


Western moral and political theorists have recently devoted considerable attention to the perceived victimization of women by non-western cultures. In this paper, I argue that conceiving injustice to poor women in poor countries primarily as a matter of their oppression by illiberal cultures presents an understanding of their situation that is crucially incomplete. This incomplete understanding distorts Western theorists comprehension of our moral relationship to women elsewhere in the world and so of our theoretical task. It also impoverishes our assumptions about the intercultural dialogue necessary to promote global justice for women.

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