Minority Women, Austerity and Activism, Akwugo Emejulu Leah Bassel


(Qualitative) study of minority women’s experience (socio-economic status and activism) in the face of austerity (neoliberal) policies in Scotland, England and France.

→ Highlighting idea: minority women are the first and main victims of economic hardships.

  • “ Apart from being disproportionately affected by the cuts, minority women are also undermined by dominant discourses which can (mis)represent them as either ‘victims’ or ‘enterprising actors.”
  • “Regardless of educational outcomes, minority groups were disproportionately more likely to be unemployed or underemployed”
  • “ unemployment and poverty are defined as the private problem of the racialised poor”
  • Rationalisation of minority groups’ disadvantage “combined with the construction of some racial, ethnic and gender intersections as problematic tends to exclude minority groups, and in particular minority women, from the European public sphere and undermine how they are included in wider social movements and struggles.”
  • “ austerity measures clearly increase minority women’s unemployment whilst simultaneously reducing the scope, coverage and access to public services.”
  • cuts have a detrimental effect on minority women’s activism
    • Janet Newman (2013: 217): difficult for women activists to find time or resources for ‘creative political work’ because ‘cuts in public and welfare services are intensifying the time pressures …making it more difficult to reconcile care work, paid employment, casual work, study, voluntary or charitable contributions and political activity.’
    • “ Scottish Asian worker at a minority women’s organisation in Edinburgh observed, it was only around issues of victimhood that her organisation was consulted by policymakers”
  • Neoliberalism is presented by some (may be white ‘feminists’) as an empowering system for minority women, therefore justifying non-intervention from the state to deal with issues specific to minority women.
    • However: “Several minority women activists … expressed deep scepticism of this approach because they were unconvinced that micro-level enterprising work could have a meaningful impact on the inequalities they experienced such as discrimination within the asylum system, everyday racism in their neighbourhoods and labour market discrimination.”
  • Authors’ suggestion: “Pluralist democratic societies purporting to generate social and political solidarity should have real and meaningful spaces for the politics of minority women who choose to articulate intersectional social justice claims”

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