by Kerry BoltonThe corporate elite that is pushing globalisation has invested much money in gender studies, feminist issues, and conferences and organisations examining the role of women in the globalised economy. Some of these feminist efforts are actually promoted as being antagonistic towards globalisation and even ‘anti-capitalist,’ yet when we look into the personnel involved and those providing the funds, we see again the nexus between feminism and international plutocracy. Here we shall examine some of the conferences and organisations involved with the issue of women under globalisation and the connection with Big Business.
Betty Friedan and the Corporate World
Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, and Gloria Steinem are the three principal founders of the contemporary feminist movement. Steinem began her career acting for the CIA and has been funded and promoted since then by the corporate elite. The late Bella Abzug’s WEDO group is close to Ford and other foundations. The late Betty Friedan advised the corporate elite on how to integrate women into the new global economy.
Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was influential in launching the women’s liberation movement during the 1970s, the premise of the book being that women should be fully integrated into the workforce and that homemaking was ‘stifling.’ Friedan co-founded one of the leading feminist organisations, the National Organization of Women (NOW), in 1966. The New York Times obituary for Friedan described The Feminine Mystique as having ‘ignited the contemporary women’s movement in 1963 and as a result permanently transformed the social fabric of the United States and countries around the world. . . . In 1969, she was a founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as Naral Pro-Choice America.’
Friedan at Cornell
In 1998 Friedan was appointed director of a project to redefine feminism and its relation to home and work. The Ford Foundation funded the four-year New Paradigm Project, based at Cornell University. This was a think tank established to consider how women can become fully integrated into the global economy. Cornell University stated at the time:
Betty Friedan joins Cornell University to direct a $1 million, fouryear
project to redefine feminism and its relation to the American
home and workplace. The New Paradigm Project, funded by the
Ford Foundation, will be based in Washington, D.C.; Friedan will
join the Institute for Women and Work at Cornell’s School of
Industrial and Labor Relations as a Distinguished Visiting
‘It is no longer a question of women versus men,’ Friedan said.
‘For women as well as men, there is now a need to redefine the
bottom line of the corporate and individual definition of success in
terms of overriding human values.’
This ‘new paradigm’ is that feminism, having succeeded in undermining and ridiculing traditional family relations throughout much of the world, has now reached its next phase of considering how women can be most effectively integrated into the global economic processes.
Friedan Co-Chairs Global Conference on Work & Family
In 2001 Friedan continued her work on behalf of globalisation as co-director of an international conference held in Italy, funded by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations.
The proposals by the feminists succinctly state the current agenda of the feminist/corporate axis for a global economy, and openly call for the destruction of the motherhood role and for the communisation of children. I will quote from a Cornell University press release:
Scholars, activists and government officials from around the world recently gathered together for a Cornell-sponsored conference on ‘Gross Domestic Product vs. Quality of Life: Balancing Work and Family.’ The event, funded by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, took place at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. Taking part were 26 participants from 14 countries, ranging from France and Finland to India and New Zealand.
The conference was sponsored by the Institute for Women and Work at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) and co-sponsored by the Feminism and Legal Theory project at Cornell Law School . . . it gives me a goose-flesh feeling, a feeling of excitement, because something is happening here that is real and new,’ said co-chair Betty Friedan, noted author and Cornell distinguished visiting professor. ‘At last we’re getting beyond a reactive mode, beyond equality with men.’
Friedan was referring to the conference’s focus, which looked at the impact the new economy and policies like deregulation and privatisation have had on working families. She explained:
‘Equality with men is absolutely necessary but not sufficient. Finally we have begun to define some basic measures for quality of life and new terms of success for individuals, institutions and communities. That’s the next step of women’s progress . . .’
An opening plenary session identified contradictions and anxieties experienced by individuals, families and communities as they confront new challenges posed by globalization.
‘Balancing work and family has become the rallying cry of our time,’ Moccio noted, ‘and it’s reflective of deep but somewhat submerged changes. The global economy draws increasing numbers of women into the workplace, resulting in fewer women performing their traditional roles as caregivers and volunteers in the community. Now, scholars, activists, unions and employers are drawn into the debate on how we as a society should respond.
Francine Moccio, co-chair and director of the Institute for Women & Work, here defines the new role for feminism in the New World Order. She correctly states that globalisation has subverted traditional roles, but we should remember that feminism itself has played an important part in this subversive process. The Cornell article continues:
Discussions were lively and provocative. Noting that the European Union was considering extending the length of maternity leave, University of Warsaw Professor Renata Siemienska questioned whether this was truly beneficial to women. She argued that such a policy reinforces the idea that child care is women’s work, thus making women less competitive in the labor market.
Here we have the contemporary feminist attitude in a nutshell; the degradation of motherhood in order to place women fully into the global labour market. To continue:
Friedan was critical of the American women’s movement for
focusing on abortion rights at the expense of such concerns as child
care and economic issues. And participants disagreed as to what
extent employers and/or government should be responsible for
Friedan’s public-policy group called for a new social movement
focused on a national child-care policy, laws that make part-time
and contingent work a viable option through initiatives such as
‘wage and benefit parity between part-time and full-time workers’
and social auditing policies that ‘hold corporations accountable to
The next phase, having secured the integration of women into the workforce, is to integrate the preschooler into the workforce, Bolshevik style, so that childbirth does not intrude upon production, and motherhood becomes redundant. Of course, this communisation of babies and toddlers in the capitalist economy is promoted by these ‘radicals’ and ‘anti-capitalists’ in the guise of the ‘rights of the woman.’