Working group 4: Challenges of Women in Developing Frontiers

Diana Figueroa, Free University Berlin

Rural, urban, indigenous and afro- women in developing countries experience various forms of violence, including economic violence. Most women in developing countries work in the informal economy, where access to social services is limited at best. Compared to their male counterparts, their access to credit is also constrained. Additionally, women spend more hours than men doing unpaid work. Nevertheless, women have also demonstrated a very strong capacity for positively intervening in their local context. Identifying the multifaceted role that women play in sustaining households, communities and the environment will shed light on alternative sources of value and their contributions to this process.

Frontier regions in developing countries have been characterized as sacrifice zones for many reasons. In addition to the institutional marginalization to which they are subjected, in these regions the state, the TNCs, among other actors legitimize and make invisible the suffering of the locals and the degradation of the land at the expense of an economy based on the export of commodities. This dynamic is present in the extraction of fossil fuels, agricultural commodities and critical minerals necessary for the transition towards green energy.

This workshop aims to explore the challenges faced by women in the frontier regions of developing countries. We will explore the impact of extractivist development on frontier regions and the fundamental but ignored role of women’s work in this process. By recognizing the central role that women play through their care work in their household, their communities and the environment, we can understand how women’s labor and reproductive work are downplayed by an extractivist logic.

We strive to build a network of scholars of different career levels and from different subfields and neighboring disciplines who relate to the above issues in original and cross-fertilizing ways.

To this purpose, we invite theoretical, methodological and empirical (single case or comparative) contributions relating to the following (and possibly further) issues:

  • –  Rural and urban women’s shifting perceptions of their environmental responsibilities and management of the commons in frontier regions.
  • –  Feminisation of struggles in extractivists regions and gender approaches to new green extractivism.
  • –  Practices of intersectional feminism within social movements, grassroot organizations and other activist contexts in frontier regions.
  • –  Articulations between productive and reproductive economies, paid and unpaid work performed by women in sacrifice zones.
  • –  Intersections of critical geography and gender studies through cartographic tools that visualize the co-production of local spaces and the axes of oppression and privilege shaping women’s everyday experiences.These topics are a guideline and we will consider other contributions that you find relevant for this workshop.

    Workshop participants will discuss the extent of gender differences resulting from the persistence of the extractivist logic. Also, they will examine to what extent a commodity-export based economy fails to address the value of women’s daily practices and reinforces or increases inequalities. Thus, the emphasis on the “frontier” will provide us with a more comprehensive basis for assessing gender equality programs at both the local and global levels.

    Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and need to be sent in by December 11th, 2023.

    Should your abstract be accepted, you will be invited to submit a full paper by January 15th, 2024.

    If you have any questions or would like to submit a paper proposal, please send an email to: