Multi-National Corporations

Trade, Gender and Post-War Recovery, Part Two: Visioning Feminist Trade Alternatives for Sustainable Peace

Nancy Kachingwe

Nandini Chami

Diyana Yahaya

April 27, 2022

Online via Zoom

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This webinar series is co-sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston's Anthropology Department; Asian Studies Department; Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance; Economics Department; History Department; The Honors College; Latino Studies Program; School for Global Inclusion and Social Development; School for the Environment; Sociology Department; and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department and Human Rights Minor.

The Social Cost of Environmental Solutions


Dauvergne, Peter, and Genevieve LeBaron. 2013. "The Social Cost of Environmental Solutions." New Political Economy 18 (3): 410-430.


Authors: Peter Dauvergne, Genevieve LeBaron


This article assesses the social consequences of efforts by multinational corpor- ations to capture business value through recycling, reusing materials and reducing waste. Synthesising evidence from the global environmental justice and feminist and international political economy (IPE) literatures, it analyses the changing social property relations of global recycling chains. The authors argue that, although recycling more would seem to make good ecological sense, corporate programmes can rely on and further ingrain social patterns of harm and exploita- tion, particularly for the burgeoning labour force that depends on recyclables for subsistence living. Turning the waste stream into a profit stream also relies on prison labour in some places, such as in the United States where the federal gov- ernment operates one of the country’s largest electronics recycling programmes. The ongoing corporatisation of recycling, the authors argue further, is devaluing already marginalised populations within the global economy. Highlighting the need to account for the dynamism between social and environmental change within IPE scholarship, the article concludes by underlining the ways in which ‘green commerce’ programmes can shift capital’s contradictions from nature onto labour.

Keywords: multinational corporations, environmental justice, political economy, recycling, labour, e-waste, global recycling chain

Topics: Development, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, Land Tenure, Multi-National Corporations, Political Economies Regions: Africa, Americas, North America, South America, Asia, South Asia Countries: United States of America

Year: 2013

Extractive Industries, Violence, and Corporate Criminality: Is There a Pathway to Global Justice?

Anna Zalik

Catherine Coumans

Marta Ruedas

December 2, 2021

Zoom Webinar

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This event was co-sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston's Africana Studies Department; Anthropology Department; Asian Studies Department; Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance; Economics Department; History Department; The Honors College; Political Science Department; School for Global Inclusion and Social Development; Sociology Department; and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department and Human Rights Minor.

Adding a Gender Perspective to China's Belt and Road Initiative as an International Human Rights Obligation


Haina, Lu. 2019. “Adding a Gender Perspective to China's Belt and Road Initiative as an International Human Rights Obligation.” Frontiers of Law in China 14 (4): 455-77.

Author: Lu Haina


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has a significant impact on the gender equality of receiving countries. It is noted that many BRI countries are facing challenges to realizing gender equality. Nevertheless, China has not developed a gender-mainstreaming or rights-based approach to implement the BRI. Hence, this paper argues that it is China’s international human rights obligation to develop such an approach and the country should adopt a gender policy in its BRI to ensure that its overseas investments and aid programs respect and promote gender equality. First, this paper maps China’s overseas investments and aid globally and particularly in BRI countries, and examines, in general, how the BRI may have an impact on gender equality both globally and in BRI countries. Second, the paper reviews international standards on gender equality in transnational trade and foreign investment and aid projects in the context of international human rights’ norms. It clarifies China’s obligations to promote gender equality within the BRI framework under international law. Third, based on the aforementioned findings, this paper conducts a gap analysis on the gender policy followed by China’s overseas investment and aid programs set within the context of international standards. Finally, the paper recommends some possible policy steps to ensure gender equality is mainstreamed in BRI projects of China.

Keywords: gender equality, Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, China's overseas investment, foreign aid, human rights

Topics: Development, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Infrastructure, International Law, International Human Rights, Multi-National Corporations, Privatization, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2019

When Subterranean Slavery Supports Sustainability Transitions? Power, Patriarchy, and Child Labor in Artisanal Congolese Cobalt Mining


Sovacool, Benjamin K. 2021. “When Subterranean Slavery Supports Sustainability Transitions? Power, Patriarchy, and Child Labor in Artisanal Congolese Cobalt Mining.” The Extractive Industries and Society 8 (1): 271–93.

Author: Benjamin K. Sovacool


Through the critical lenses of “modern slavery,” “dispossession,” and “gendering,” this study examines the contours of power, patriarchy, and child labor in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There, a veritable mining boom for cobalt is underway, driven by rising global demand for batteries and other modern digital devices needed for future sustainability transitions. Based on extensive and original field research in the DRC—including 23 semi-structured expert interviews with a purposive sample, 48 semi-structured community interviews with ASM miners, traders, and community mem­ bers, and site visits to 17 artisanal mines, processing centers, and trading depots—this study asks: What power relations does ASM cobalt mining embed? What are its effects on patriarchy and gender relations? Critically, what is the extent and severity of child labor? It documents the exploitation of ASM miners by the government, the police, and even at times other mining actors such as traders or local communities. It reveals the often invisible gendered nature of mining, showing how many vulnerabilities—in terms of work, status, social norms, and sexual abuse and prostitution—fall disproportionately on women and girls. It lastly reveals sobering patterns of child labor and abuse, again at times by the government or police, but other times by families or mining communities themselves. These factors can at times make cobalt mining a modern form of slavery and a catalyst for social, economic, and even regional dispossession. However, rather than despair, the study also draws from its empirical data to showcase how mining can in selected situations empower. It also proposes a concerted mix of policy reforms aimed the Congolese government (at all scales, including local and national); suppliers and enduser companies for cobalt; and international governments and trading bodies. In doing so, the study humanizes the plight of Congolese cobalt artisanal miners, reveals the power relations associated with the recent mining boom, and also proposes pathways for positive change.

Keywords: artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Copper, Cobalt, modern slavery, disposession

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Girls, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Multi-National Corporations, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2021

Beyond Victimisation: Gendered Legacies of Mining, Participation, and Resistance


Sinclair, Lian. 2021. “Beyond Victimisation: Gendered Legacies of Mining, Participation, and Resistance.” The Extractive Industries and Society (January): 1-10.

Author: Lian Sinclair


Mining developments, corporate-community conflict, and participatory community development programs can have diverse gendered impacts on people affected by mining. Thus, changing gendered relations are amongst the social, economic, and political legacies of mining. Despite growing literature on the gendered impacts of mining, little explains how and why particular developments produce divergent legacies. This paper builds on feminist understandings of primitive accumulation and social reproduction theory to understand the rapid economic, social and political change that reconfigures gendered relations between and within groups of men and women. Drawing on research across three case studies in Indonesia, I argue that while mining developments can disproportionately disadvantage women, resistance work and participation in corporate social responsibility programs (CSR) may be empowering. This paper thus moves beyond the ‘women-as-victims’ approach to uncover the social, economic, and political foundations of inequality that may be disrupted or reinforced by mining, participation and resistance. The implications of this for mining governance policy, CSR and NGOs are that gendered legacies of mining depend on how resistance or participation create opportunities to overcome structural inequalities exacerbated by mining.

Keywords: gender, Indonesia, political participation, resistance, social reproduction theory

Topics: Extractive Industries, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Indonesia

Year: 2021

Mining Companies and Gender(Ed) Policies: The Women of the Congolese Copperbelt, Past and Present


Pugliese, Francesca. 2020. “Mining Companies and Gender(Ed) Policies: The Women of the Congolese Copperbelt, Past and Present.” The Extractive Industries and Society (August).

Author: Francesca Pugliese


Mining companies of the past and present have promoted specific roles for men and women through their management practices. In DR Congo, first colonial and then state-owned companies naturalised the role of men as employees and breadwinners. At the same time, women were assigned responsibility for reproduction and were understood as being financially dependent on men’s salary, either that of their fathers or husbands. By contrast, some LSM (large-scale mining) companies today support gender equality programmes, mainly to improve their corporate reputation. Drawing on the literature on women in the industrial extractive sector elsewhere in the world, I show how these discourses and processes continue to produce Congolese Copperbelt mines as masculine spaces at different levels. I then move to the ethnographic component of the paper by arguing that new investors’ gender practices and equality policies are not easily implemented in the area. On the con­ trary, they have to confront a region marked by the paternalistic social policies of mining companies in the past, which have entrenched a certain gender hegemony. Through the biographies of different women involved in the industrial mining sector past and present, I show the effects of mining companies’ policies on gender roles in Haut-Katanga Province.

Keywords: women in mining, gendered policies, gender equality, Congolese Copperbelt

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Masculinity/ies, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2020

Gender, Regulation, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Sector: The Case of Equinor’s Social Investments in Tanzania


Lange, Siri, and Victoria Wyndham. 2021. “Gender, Regulation, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Sector: The Case of Equinor’s Social Investments in Tanzania.” Women’s Studies International Forum 84 (January—February).

Authors: Siri Lange, Victoria Wyndham


Multinational corporations have been criticised for their rhetorical support to - as opposed to substantive engagement with - gender equality in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in poor countries. Many host countries have started regularizing CSR in recent years, and there is great variation between countries and different sectors when it comes to the gendered dimensions of social investments. This article focuses on the factors that influence CSR in the petroleum sector, using Equinor in Tanzania as a case study. We argue that national regulations in host countries, perceptions of risk, as well as the need to gain ‘a social license to operate’ from host communities, means that the gendered dimensions of CSR in the petroleum sector differ in important ways from other sectors. The study also shows that company ownership by a state that profiles itself as a champion in gender equality does not in itself lead to gender sensitive social investments. The main ‘bene­ficiaries’ of Equinor’s social investments in Tanzania are men, but this fact is disguised by using a gender neutral language in CSR reporting.

Topics: Extractive Industries, Gender, Men, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2021

Integrating a Gender Perspective into Transparency and Accountability Initiatives: Three Case Studies


Powell, Alice. 2017. “Integrating a Gender Perspective into Transparency and Accountability Initiatives: Three Case Studies.” Gender & Development 25 (3): 489–507. 

Author: Alice Powell


Natural resource wealth is not shared equally by all. While elites may capture the profits disproportionately in many contexts, marginalised social groups – including women – are less likely to experience the benefits of extraction, and are affected differently by virtue of their gendered roles in the economy and society. Women also tend to be less able to participate in decision-making forums relating to extractive questions. International transparency and accountability initiatives have been seeking to improve the management of natural resources through promoting citizen involvement and information disclosure in the extractive sector. Recently, some are also trying to incorporate gender issues into their work to ensure that women’s experiences and voices are not excluded from the transparency movement. This article draws on evidence from transparency and accountability initiatives to show how they have tried to do this, in a field which has long been perceived as gender-neutral. It highlights some of the key challenges faced by these initiatives, as well as lessons they have learned in their work.

La riqueza que se genera a partir de los recursos naturales no se distribuye equitativamente. Mientras en muchos contextos las élites pueden obtener utilidades desproporcionadas, los grupos sociales marginales — incluyendo las mujeres — tienen menos probabilidad de conseguir cualquier beneficio derivado de las actividades extractivas. Por otra parte, en el caso de las mujeres éstas son afectadas de manera diferente en virtud de sus roles de género en la economía y la sociedad. Además existe la tendencia a que tengan menos oportunidades de participar en los espacios de toma de decisiones asociados a la industria extractiva. Ciertas iniciativas orientadas a mejorar la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas a nivel internacional buscan mejorar la gestión de recursos naturales promoviendo la participación ciudadana y la divulgación de información en el sector extractivo. Recientemente, otras iniciativas han intentado incorporar a su trabajo cuestiones de género, a fin de asegurar que las experiencias y las voces de las mujeres no queden excluidas del movimiento a favor de la transparencia. El presente artículo da cuenta de evidencia surgida de varias iniciativas que promueven la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas para mostrar cómo se han realizado en un ámbito que durante mucho tiempo fue percibido como neutral ante el género. Asimismo, destaca algunos de los principales retos que deben enfrentar dichas iniciativas y los aprendizajes que resultan de su implementación.

Les richesses liées aux ressources naturelles ne sont pas réparties de manière égale. Tandis que les élites accaparent les bénéfices de manière disproportionnée dans de nombreux contextes, les groupes sociaux marginalisés – y compris les femmes – ont moins de chances de profiter des avantages de l’exploitation de ces ressources, et sont touchés différemment en raison de leurs rôles sexo-spécifiques au sein de l’économie et de la société. Par ailleurs, les femmes sont généralement moins à même de prendre part aux forums de prise de décisions pour ce qui est des questions relatives à l’extraction. Il existe des initiatives internationales en matière de transparence et de redevabilité qui cherchent à améliorer la gestion des ressources naturelles en favorisant la participation des citoyens et la divulgation des informations dans le secteur de l’extraction. Depuis peu, certaines tentent aussi d’incorporer les questions relatives au genre dans leur travail pour veiller à ce que les expériences et les voix des femmes ne soient pas exclues du mouvement en faveur de la transparence. Cet article s’inspire des données factuelles provenant d’initiatives relatives à la transparence et à la redevabilité pour montrer comment elles ont tenté de faire tout cela, dans un domaine qui est perçu depuis longtemps comme neutre sur le plan du genre. Il met en relief certaines des principales difficultés rencontrées par ces initiatives, ainsi que ce qu’elles ont appris dans le cadre de leur travail.

Keywords: gender, natural resources, transparency, governance, extractive sector

Topics: Civil Society, Extractive Industries, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Multi-National Corporations

Year: 2017

Climate Change and Feminist Environmentalism in the Niger Delta, Nigeria


Amadi, Luke A., Mina M. Ogbanga, and James E. Agena. 2015. “Climate Change and Feminist Environmentalism in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.” African Journal of Political Science and International Relations 9 (9): 361–71.

Authors: Luke A. Amadi, Mina M. Ogbanga, James E. Agena


Feminist environmentalist debate explores possible linkages between women and environmental issues such as inequality. One of the most pressing global problem at the centre of this debate is climate change vulnerability. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) creates global policy awareness on the realities of climate change vulnerability, women in the poor coastal regions of the periphery societies such as the Niger Delta, Nigeria, prone to environmental degradation seem to be missing out. This subject matter has been of immense policy concern. The increase in recent decades of environmental disasters, deleterious effects of oil resource exploitation by the Multinational Corporations (MNCs), pollution, gas flaring, acid rain, sea level rise, ozone layer depletion, global warming and related pressures, provide the need to explore feminist environmental challenges. As all such problems manifest with divergent climate related implications, the most fundamental challenge they pose to women seem less talked about. Niger Delta women who are largely bread winners in most rural households are at risk as their subsistence relies heavily on the natural environment such as farming, fishing, petty trading, gathering of periwinkles, oysters, crayfish etc. To explore this dynamic, the study deployed a desk review of relevant secondary data to examine possible linkages between feminist environmentalism and climate change mitigation. Findings suggest that climate change, mitigation has been minimal. The paper made some policy recommendations.

Keywords: environmental security, climate change, women, development, Niger Delta

Topics: Development, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Livelihoods, Multi-National Corporations Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2015


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