Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Human Resource Development International
For a Special Issue on
Global Feminism(s), Sustainability and Human Resource Development
30 September 2023
Global Feminism(s), Sustainability and Human Resource Development
Mapping the Terrain of Global Feminism(s)
Women and men are currently on the move worldwide to promote equality and social justice. However, many social movements and protests about human wellbeing and livelihoods have not been adequately captured in contemporary HRD debates. While there is emerging literature within critical HRD that highlights the gendered, sexualized and classed dynamics of HRD theory and practice (Mavin and Grady, 2016; Callahan and Elliot, 2020), an unexplored theme in these HRD debates is how contemporary multiple feminisms, including the role, and mobilization of global feminisms (Global South and Global North), can aid social change and organization renewal (Metcalfe, 2021).
Critical HRD scholars suggest that discourses of equality and feminist movements have broadly been concerned with western issues and concerns, with the many calls for social protests neutralized, since equality is viewed as passe (Segato, 2014; Bartky, 1997; Wilson, 2015; Kushnir and Nunes, 2022).
However, the Global Women Marches in the USA and Europe have grown due to many injustices. Feminist dissent and activism is happening everywhere. In the USA culture, racism and sexual harassment have been highlighted as beliefs and practices that exist in US society. While the UN has been promoting the SDGs and inequalities for many decades (Metcalfe, 2021; Callahan and Elliot, 2020), it was numerous Hollywood scandals and the George Lloyd event that helped expand coverage of discrimination and harassment happening in many progressive societies.
Twitter and online social media have grown illustrating a lot of dissatisfaction by women and other marginal groups, in both the Global North and Global South, about their lives and needs, which are not addressed in many global territories. Therefore, many groups have been marginalized in societies, for example, uneven access to medical resources, training opportunities and education (Bierema, 2020; Quental and Shymko, 2021; Loon et al, 2021).
Nonetheless, resistance to inequalities is relevant everywhere, evidenced also by online platform movements and underscored by the multiple feminist movements.
Global Feminisms, Sustainability and National HRD
Women’s organizations from 180 countries at the UN meeting in Beijing 1995 devised the framework for the MDGs in 2000-2015 (along with other areas), hence the importance of women’s development in the SDGs.
A key driver of women’s movements is the global discourse of sustainable development and the importance of SDGs, in promoting equality (Metcalfe, 2011; Sheehan et al, 2014). The current SDGs also provide a framework for many countries development and NHRD plans.
These developments represent intersecting identity forms and create multiple groups in organizations and politics (Ozkazanc‐Pan, 2019), and help frame ‘diverse regimes of inequality’ and how they are managed (Walby, 2020).
Therefore, an important question for HRD writers is how states help build governance regimes that support and enhance human development. Critical examination of the nature of Global feminist movements will aid HRD research and will provide rich and nuanced data on what is happening in different global regions.(Georgio et al, 2021, and Loon et al, 2020).
In this environment therefore, there is a need to explore global multiple feminism(s) and how they shape HRD knowledge and the practice of sustainability and equality. This is at a time when skills, AI, economic restructuring, and work re-organization are also posing challenges and opportunities for HRD practioners to decipher new knowledges and new policies to cope with these changes (Bierema, 2021; Greer et al, 2022).
The Academy have increasingly recognized Global North ethics, some even articulating ‘white feminism needs to be challenged’ (for example, Hankir, 2021). The privileging of Global North ideologies in global business and economics has been a central concern to development economics and international agencies like the World Bank and the United Nations (World Bank, 2016; Syed and Metcalfe, 2017).
This is an idea that has travelled over time. Joseph Stiglitz argued the same in his classic Globalization and its Discontents text in 1992. Moreover, Said, and many contemporary writers (especially in Latin America), now argue, that unravelling a countries ‘difference’ mosaic is necessary in understanding the histories and relevant theories and policy that acknowledges the ‘geo-politics of knowledge of a state’ (Syed and Metcalfe, 2017). Neoliberal logics undermine women’s and multiple diversity positions. This ‘radical appropriation’ of the Global South resources, and the undermining of Global South culture and organization (Wilson, 2015) is now commonly referred to as decolonization (Metcalfe, 2021; Syed and Ali, 2011), and this requires unravelling to discern what colonization and decolonization means theoretically for the HRD field. The debates around Muslim women needing saving from oppressive Islamic practices, is an excellent example that was picked up by Global North/Western writers and completely misrepresented the fundamental tenets of women and Islamic practices and Islamic Feminism’s (Metcalfe, 2021).
How then can HRD writers’ critique multiple feminisms and global inequalities and glean new knowledges and perspectives in an era governed by sustainability? How can HRD research offer pathways for sustainable reform?
HRD enquiry across different territories needs to unravel the myriad ways feminism is socially and historically constituted and what this means for HRD theory and practice, alongside contemporary sustainable development issues (Metcalfe, 2008; Foxkirk et al, 2020; Callahan and Elliot, 2020). These challenges are centred on new understandings of gender, based on a rejection of traditional binary definitions of sex and gender, and the implications that arise from that. This opens avenues for a particularly important implication, namely, the need for multi-level, multi-dimensional and intersectional understandings of feminisms (Greer et al, 2022; Spivak, 1988; Akobo and Stewart, 2020; Loon et al, 2020a, 2020b). Such analyses fit with the framework proposed by Garavan et al (2018) for research on National HRD (NHRD). As those authors argue, meso level factors such as socio-cultural traditions overlap and interact with micro level actors and NHRD interventions. Moreover, HRD scholars have recognized that the challenges for equality agendas have impacted women the most in the covid era (Bierema, 2020). If one views social change and development through a Global South lens one will find a plethora of feminist-oriented work dedicated to human development (Loon et al 2020b; World Bank,2016). These have been at the centre of national HRD campaigns and have lead skill development, leadership development, and national competencies, for those countries with limited resources for education (Georgio et al, 2021 Greer et al, 2022; Wilson, 2015).
Thus, in a nutshell, feminisms are globally vibrant and are involved in shaping many responses to new vistas for equality, choices, and rights.. There is a need therefore to explore the multi-level organization of global, state and local dimensions of gender, sustainability and HRD and practices (Sheehan et al, 2014). Importantly, many of the SDGs have direct implications for gender and development SDG4 Education; SDG5 Gender Equality, SDG 7 Decent Work, SDG 17 partnerships but they also intersect with other indicators
Bringing the theoretic and practice areas of gender and sustainability together maps new organization forms of global feminist movements, and opens opportunities for HRD’s role in promoting sustainability, social and economic change.
Moving Theory and Policy Forward
The forgoing discussion has highlighted the importance of HRD and feminist activism in shaping social change in the global political economy.
This means that fluid notions of HRD and sustainability can help us explore decoloniality in diverse geographic territories (Metcalfe 2021;2011). This requires HRD scholars to appreciate the politics of belonging and the ethics of place and space, and how, the ‘geopolitics of knowledge’ challenge imperialism and colonialism (Wilson, 2015; Lugones, 2010; Metcalfe, 2011; World Bank, 2015). We envision this SI as providing foundational knowledge of myriad global feminisms, HRD and SDGs interlinkages, alongside gender, race, and multiple formations of intersectionality’s and connections with sustainability’.
We welcome interdisciplinarity work: HRD, HRM, OS/OD, Geography, Development; Women’s Studies, Politics. We are keen for critical assessments of decoloniality, a theoretical strand influencing how territories are devising HRD policies based on their own cultural traditions.
Papers can be theoretical, empirical, focus on one country, several countries, or one organization (UN, women’s organizations, government, regional agency like the ADB or OECD). The following are potential but not exclusive areas of interest to the special issue. We welcome scholarship from anywhere in the world that addresses the themes of the SI.
Comparative analyses of the Global North and Global South
Empowerment and sustainability
HRD, National HRD and Sustainability
Islamic feminisms/Latino feminisms/Chinese Feminisms
Postcolonial and decolonial feminist theorizing
African Feminism, Womanism
Gender, Race, Ethnicity and SDGs
HRD and Decoloniality
Sustainability and Decoloniality