Global Resources

Women, citizenship and difference

Author: N. Yuval-Davis
Publisher: Feminist Review
Publication Date: Jan 1997
In a globalising world where the role of the local, the national and the global is shifting, the meanings of citizenship are also changing. This article presents some new theoretical discussions on gender and citizenship. It argues that, rather than something which sees everyone as "the same", citizenship should be understood as multi-tiered and formed through many different positions according to gender, ethnicity and urban/rural location. The author challenges the western-centric origins of citizenship theory and focuses on community membership, group rights and social difference in local, national and international contexts. In particular the article addresses the way in which the division between the family/private and the political/public operate to exclude certain groups, particularly women, from citizenship. It argues for a wider interpretation that does not concentrate solely on the relationship between people and the state. A theory of ?active citizenship? can promote participation by women and other marginalised groups in some form of decision-making. It can also ensure they receive the benefits or entitlements of community membership - such as welfare - which are needed to create the conditions in which people are able to participate. In this way citizenship can act as a ?political mobilization tool? which links up different feminist projects in local and global arenas.