Women and the ‘Post-Sovereign’ State: A Feminist Analytic of the State in the Age of Globalization

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The importance and impact of current globalization processes on relationships between peoples, institutions and structures—particularly, the (initial) retreat of the sovereign state and its return to power in its post sovereign form—are urgent issues for feminists. To depict this emerging reality, this article revisits the male-framed discourse and praxis of IR by focusing on the construction of sovereignty from the idea of the ‘sovereign man.’ From this vantage point, I will then demonstrate how globalization processes have undermined the integrity of state sovereignty through the weakening of the supremacy of state territoriality and its power to define identities and rules. At this historical juncture, the women’s movement is faced with a dual challenge. At one level, the women’s human rights project has gained ground with the codification of women’s rights as well as the continuous participation of women’s organizations at various levels of global governance structures like the United Nations. At another level, this achievement is being diluted by a clash of interests with other global governance regimes such as the trade and financial regimes advanced by international institutions like the World Trade Organization. The emerging trend is that of the post-sovereign state reasserting its monolithic status on the world stage and working with non-state entities so long as they serve the interests of the state. The women’s movement must continue to engage with the state, while critically contesting it simultaneously.