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Special Issue "Women Leading Social and Economic Change: Towards Feminized Thinking and Spatial Praxis"
A special issue of Administrative Sciences (ISSN 2076-3387). This special issue belongs to the section "Gender, Race and Diversity in Organizations".
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2022) | Viewed by 9975
Special Issue Editors
Interests: Women's Leadership in MENA/Africa; HRD and HRM, International Development and Sustainability; Entrepreneurship/Social Entrepreneurship in the GCC and Middle East; NGOs and Social Change; Global Feminisms including Islamic Feminism; Gender and Governance; Educational Leadership; Islamic Ethics/Finance
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: entrepreneurship; gender; innovation management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: CSR and transformational leadership; cross-cultural dimensions of diversity training; tacit knowledge in manufacturing; international human resource management standards; human resource management in MNCs; human resource development
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: entrepreneurship; family business and sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: Islamic marketing; values; entrepreneurship; methodology; tourism
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Interests: Islamic Law; jurisprudence; economics; finance and banking; women's empowerment & leadership from Islamic perspectives; social change; entrepreneurship; family business and sustainability
Interests: leadership in the professions, public (particularly healthcare) and 3rd sectors; responsible leadership; people security; leadership development including coaching and mentoring
Interests: HRD; gender; leadership; action leraning and human development; organizational change
Interests: HRD; leadership; careers; women in STEM
Interests: women; leadership; rural development and change; economic development; IT and social and economic change; agricultural change; human rights development and education; NGOS
Interests: HRD; HRM; strategic HRD and change; transformational leadership and ethics
Special Issue Information
Despite concerted national and international efforts, social, political, and economic inequalities persist worldwide, with detrimental effects for the development and well-being, of all people, but especially for women and marginalized groups (Bastian et al. 2019; WEF 2021; UN 2020a; UN 2020b). COVID-19 has placed additional demands on leadership in the management of diverse organizations in the private, public, and NGO sectors (UN, 2020b). These societal challenges are the responsibility of everyone, but many now argue that women’s leadership together with men is important—indeed, necessary—for sustainable development. The WEF (2021) global gender gap report highlights that woman are underrepresented in leadership roles in both the public and private sectors in many states in Africa, Asia, MENA, Latin America, Russia, and China.
This SI addresses how women leaders in diverse roles in the political economy, including educational, political, economic, health, and environmental sectors, are managing and leading social and economic change effectively. However, it is also important to collate knowledge of the barriers that women face in attaining leadership roles. The aim of this SI is to explore the multilevel actors/organizations and multilevel scales that capture the breadth of women’s leadership, and how women are being supported to attain leadership knowledge and skills at the global, state, and individual levels. However, along with the SDGs, many social and economic ambitions and leadership positions must be fought for.
In addition to women attaining leadership roles, in many countries there have been growing concerns by women’s groups and women’s organizations about rising inequality between men and women, women’s social and economic status, and the feminization of poverty (WEF 2021; Sen 2019; Alcoff 2017; Conway 2016; Cooke 2016). The measures of women’s economic and political involvement are low in many countries, including both developed and developing nations (WEF 2021).
In understanding women in leadership, and in getting women into leadership roles, this SI aims to critically unravel how women’s organizations and movements, their challenges and their successes, can help to produce new knowledge to aid policy development. This involves examining how women have taken on leadership roles and led social change programs in their communities, societies, and nations, and how they are building on Indigenous and local knowledge using their own experiences, histories, legacies, concerns, and priorities (Fairburn 2020; Sen 2019; Conway 2016; Metcalfe and Woodhams 2012). These are complex debates, and raise issues about the empowerment of women, about what empowerment means in diverse geographic states, and how empowerment is linked to women’s leadership (Wood et al. 2021).
Critical commentators argue that solutions to inequalities and women’s participation work best when local actors are involved in development planning, which in the long run provides greater rewards and economic inclusiveness (Fairburn 2020; World Bank 2016; WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2021). The importance of what is termed the geo-politics of knowledge and Global South experiences needs to be unveiled and consciously communicated (Connell 2014; Mignilo 2007 ). If we do not grasp the ways in which social circumstances are fluid, we run risk of homogenizing women’s identities and their social positioning.
As Metcalfe and Woodhams argue,
“The politics of location, politics of accountability and the multitude forms of capitalism and patriarchy reveal potentialities for different political strategies, organizational forms and managerial approaches to exploring difference, and eradicating discriminations and social injustice...We are tasked with adopting positive agentic positions in order to ‘re-imagine’ the politics of possibility” (2012, p. 133).
The “politics of possibility” here relates to the Global South. Since 2012, the growth of transnational feminist networking has greatly enabled dialogue and communication across borders (Spivak 2003). The starting point for transnational feminist networking was the Beijing platform for Women, which devised the MDGs (Metcalfe 2011a; Makareem et al. 2021; Metcalfe et al. 2021). Through women’s organizations’ protest there are now more women are in leadership roles in organizations and government, more women enrolled in school and university, and more women being equipped with the tools to support equality agendas and steer social change (Moghadam 2016, 2019; Conway 2012, 2016). Through feminist solidarity they are learning to build strategic interests across borders that are relevant to their own politics of location in the Global South (Yuvall Davies 2009; Alcoff 2017; Sen 2019).
Women’s calls for leadership have been well documented in Africa, and have been written from the position of the Global South. Shireen Hassim’s study Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa – Contesting Authority (2006) chronicles and analyses the role of the women’s movement in the South African liberation struggle. She also covers the role, and failures, of the African National Congress Women’s League (French 2016).
The experiences of the Arab Spring have been documented and have to led to improvements in social change (Ahmad 2020; Ali 2019; Biagini 2020), as well as larger numbers in political leadership that have never been countenanced before.
The women’s protests in Russia inspired by Pussy Riot were quashed by Putin, and there are limited cases of female social movements in South Asia; there is little research as to why. As a consequence, women’s leadership roles appear to be limited in South Asia and former Communist states (Bocong et al. 2019). What are the barriers constraining women’s leadership potential in these regions, which also includes more advanced countries (e.g., Korea, Singapore, China, Hong Kong). In contrast, women’s leadership has grown in the MENA region and India in politics. What are the policies and environments that led to women’s attainment of roles in politics? Importantly, while institutions like the UN support quotas for women in political leadership, very few countries have adopted political quotas globally (exception Arab states in the past few years).
Where there are social movements, the current data illustrate these are varied and complex in their organization and leadership. Social movements primarily focus on women’s status in society, their rights in the family, personal status laws, and an end to harassment. Fairburn (2020) documents sexual harassment experienced by women across many countries, in the streets and within organizations. These have impacted opportunities for training and for work, and in some cases argue for a new leader or government—for example, in Egypt and Iraq (Metcalfe 2011a, 2011b; Ramadan 2012; Al-Sharmani 2014; Abu-Lughod 2013; El Said et al. 2016; Yuan et al. 2020).
To build feminist solidarity and challenge it is important that women are given the tools to understand and challenge injustices and inequalities. The lens of Intersectional feminism has effectively highlighted the differences and signifiers that shape one’s identity, whether gender, race, religion, class, or sexuality.
The lens of post-colonialism helps women in all countries appreciate the power relations between the Global North and South, and provides the opportunity for women to speak about leadership in their own way, rather than recourse to conceptualizations of social change defined by colonialism and the Global North.
These critical lenses help to explore the lives and families, and how herstories/histories generate different priorities and interests for where one is socially and politically located. Macro talent-management strategies highlight how states can develop human capacity (Metcalfe et al. 2021; Garavan et al. 2018; Griggs et al. 2018), and how national human resource development can support women in acquiring skills and knowledge. Thus, strategies for empowerment and social change require an understanding of how different signifiers shape women’s leadership roles and capacity, and importantly the geopolitical landscape in which one is positioned (Conway 2012, 2016).
These stories are told via feminist ideas, or for those who feel feminism is a Western term, there are women concerned about improving their social and economic position. Space, place, and scale capture a range of inequalities that reflect the way in which poverty, harassment, and direct discrimination are formulated differently across different scales (Mohanty 2003; Sem 2019; Salime 2008) and different geographic regions. How have women leaders managed this? These insights require further investigation and research.
In understanding women’s roles in international and sustainable development, scholars have noted that neoliberal development, epitomized by the Washington Consensus, has not benefited the Global South; rather, there has been an increase of inequalities globally, represented by unequal and uneven development (Mitchell and Sparke 2016; Moghadam 2016, 2019).
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the dominant discourse of the “third world women” who were commonly represented as “disempowered and dispossessed” in the international development imagination (Metcalfe and Woodhams 2012; Dengler and Seebacher 2019; Wood et al. 2021). How have governments helped to support women’s empowerment in different regions, and how are governments tackling the SDGs by recruiting and developing female specialists?
Globalization helped nurture anticapitalist movements, and these were guided by Global North self-understandings of resistance and protest. Gradually, there has been increasing commitment to challenge colonization and Global North authority (Lugonesz 2010; Mignilo 2007; Mignilo and Escobar 2013).
This is significant because women’s groups and organizations were arguing a postfeminist sensibility in Europe and the USA during 2000–2018, as it was felt that many equality targets had been achieved. This logic nicely aligned with neoliberal thinking, and an end to popular feminist ideas could be featured positively on media platforms in the Global North .
However, the Global South has had very different experiences and responses to postfeminism, as harassment and inequalities in work, and limited access to education across many states, were the norm (Cooke 2016; Murale et al. 2021). Feminism in the Global South is a multiple agenda for many women’s groups. Not only that—the governance arrangements in countries are very different globally, with some having strong established women’s specialist ministries, while others have none, or a pseudo-institution.
There is therefore a need to understand women’s experience of social and economic change beyond that of the Global North. What have women leaders in diverse roles and contexts achieved in supporting social advancement, and how are women organizing social movements to improve the livelihoods of their families and communities? How are organizations in the public/private sector supporting women’s leadership development, and finally, how are governments in diverse states supporting national HRD for women and assisting women in acquiring new knowledge and skills to engage in leadership (Garavan et al. 2017; Metcalfe 2011a, 2011b)?
We are interested in papers that challenge prevalent logics of global governance and allow us to learn from women’s experiences and interpretations that reflect their respective contexts in all global regions, especially the Global South: Africa, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), China, Russia, Asia, and Asia Pacific. We welcome papers that are empirical or theory based. This may also include case examples of any organization’s leadership and management of a particular social change project in a country.
The research focus can be at global, national, or regional level, or at the individual organization/individual leader level. Alternatively, papers can explore individual, organizational, and social practices. We also welcome Global North papers that contribute to knowledge and evidence that further colonization/decolonization debates. We encourage papers from organization scholars, management scholars, and researchers working in education entrepreneurship research, gender studies, men’s studies, postcolonial fields, HRM, HRD, international business, economics, geography, sociology, and others.
Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:
- An evaluation of women leading social change in various organizations/states, or in developing entrepreneurship opportunities;
- Critiques of any women’s movements especially in South Asia, China, Latin America, and former communist countries in Eastern and Central Europe;
- Evaluations of the femininization of poverty thesis;
- The role of the World Bank, UN, and other international organizations in supporting women’s leadership development and entrepreneurship;
- Political leadership in MENA, Africa, and Latin America;
- Global feminisms and social change;
- SDGs and women’s leadership;
- Spatial assessments of leadership and change;
- National HRD, governance, and strategies for women’s leadership development;
- National (governance machineries) for tracking gender SDGs;
- How are women’s groups organizing in specific geographies, states, and regions to address social and economic change?
- How has educational leadership supported social change?
- Women, leadership, and empowerment;
- The role of Women’s ministries in supporting leadership;
- Transnational feminist networks, leadership, and social change;
- What has been the effectiveness of traditional state-led feminist movements compared with grassroots organizations?
Individual and Theory Orientation
- Leading organizational change;
- Post-feminism debates and leadership in the Global South;
- How have women’s organizations supported social and economic change?
- Personal and reflexive accounts of doing leadership, or in participating in social change movements;
- How has digital organization and communication assisted women’s leadership development?
- How has the digital economy enabled women to venture and support entrepreneurship development?
- Postcolonial critiques of women’s leadership;
- How can decolonization help understand women’s leadership in a particular region/state?
- How does feminist theory (e.g., Islamic feminism in MENA, womanism in Africa) support agendas for women’s human development?
- What has been the effectiveness of traditional state-led feminist movements compared with grassroots organizations
Prof. Dr. Beverly Dawn Metcalfe
Dr. Bettina Lynda Bastian
Prof. Dr. Thomas Garavan
Dr. Poh Yen Ng
Dr. Bronwyn P Wood
Dr. Abu Umar Faruq Ahmad
Prof. Dr. Rona Beattie
Dr. Aileen Lawless
Dr. Yasmeen Makarem
Dr. M. Senapathy
Dr. Niveen Alsayyed
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- global feminism(s)
- women’s leadership
- Global South
- feminist organizations
- women’s social movements
- environment and economic leadership and social change
- post colonialism
- neo colonialism