Women in the Global South


In the past decade, there has been a profound questioning of gender, gender identities, and related discourses in a range of disciplines including the international space. In particular, there has been a clear documentation and challenging of rigid masculine norms. As a result, networks, model curricula, websites, convenings, data collection, and reports now support an array of efforts offering men new ways of being in the world.

Yet in a cluster of related areas—such as child marriage, sex trafficking, genital cutting, ritual fattening, menstrual health, and education deprivation—beliefs and attitudes about femininity among mothers, aunts, and female elders can be as (or even more) important to understanding and creating lasting change. While a core of NGOs provide groundbreaking programs that challenge rigid feminine norms, such norms are still rarely discussed, and little in the way of a formal infrastructure has grown up to support this work.

This paper, developed by TrueChild with The MATCH Fund, Global Fund for Women, and Prospera, grew out of three dozen interviews with NGOs, funders, and agencies in the global south. Inside you will find vignettes that capture what we heard in discussing this topic with them. It is offered as an effort to re-center femininity in the dialog on women and girls, and as a possible guide to future collective action.