I have never been a fan of capitalism; those who know me or have read my writings know that I have on numerous occasions berated capitalism as an economic approach, or as a political theory that is inspired by this economic approach. Nevertheless, I realize that I live in a capitalist society and I have to conform to certain aspects of this theory in order to survive.
With this in mind, I will say that I don’t hate every bit of capitalism. The collateral or unintended effects of this theory can often be positive towards societies, especially third-world countries to which we usually view as culturally ‘backwards’.
Take for example, an article from the New York Times that looks at women in Pakistan joining the work force out of necessity, and despite fervent opposition from the men:
Necessity Pushes Pakistani Women Into Jobs and Peril
Some of the important things to be noted from the article are:
– Most of the women are getting service sector jobs because the males in the family are not making enough money to keep up with inflation
– This phenomenon is currently mostly only limited to the city of Karachi, the country’s largest city
– KFC’s employment of women has risen 125 percent in the past 5 years; KFC currently employs 90 percent men
– Pakistan currently ranks 133 out of 134 countries on the Global Gender Gap Report’s list of women’s economic participation
– Women who choose to join the service sector workforce do so at their own peril because they face constant harassment, mostly from conservative men who disapprove of their behavior
Note that the women are joining the work force not out of “nascent feminism”, as the article says, but out of economic necessity.
The issue of money is breaking down one of the toughest cultural barriers we have today, that being sexism.
Many of these women would probably still have not left their house had their families not have been in dire need of extra income.
Am I suggesting that capitalism is the solution to combating long-entrenched cultural / religious values? No, because judging from the article’s interviews, the newly-working women themselves have not realized the political significance of them working out in the open in such a culturally conservative country. Yes, they get heckled and they realize that they are doing something that few in their country would even dream of doing, but they are not entirely aware of the fact that they are now part of a centuries-long movement to increase equality between men and women in third world countries.
The ‘money problem’, therefore, serves somewhat as a catalyst for a feminist movement to take off. Only by educating these women, and letting more of them know that working alongside men is now possible, can this actually be called an advance for the feminist movement.