Rowman and Littlefield International
The Business of Women's Empowerment

The Business of Women's Empowerment

Corporate Gender Politics in the Global South

By Sofie Tornhill

Part of the series Global Political Economies of Gender and Sexuality

Publication Date: Aug 2019

Pages 224


Hardback 9781786601582
£80.00 €112.00 $120.00
Paperback 9781786601599
£24.95 €34.95 $39.95
Ebook 9781786601605
£24.95 €34.95 $37.95
Not available for pre-order

Although previously denounced for their gender blindness in the past, private businesses have increasingly emerged as vocal proponents of women’s empowerment in the Global South.

This book critically examines these claims and examines how ideals of female entrepreneurial conduct are transmitted, ideologically anchored and negotiated as well as the kind of societal transformations the initiative opens up for in two national contexts. Drawing from extensive ethnographic fieldwork from Mexico and South Africa, the Coca Cola Company’s global program “5by20”, has openly stated objective to empower female micro-entrepreneurs in marginalized, informal sectors of the economy. Closer inspection of this sheds light on corporate gender practices are played out in practice and contributes to feminist debates about the relations between neoliberal capitalist expansion and emancipatory strivings and provides unique insights into the premises and effects of corporate solutions to gender inequality in the Global South.

Introduction: Win-Win Capitalism

1. Approaches to Corporate-Led Empowerment in The Global South

2. Feminist Research in the Wake of Corporate Power

3. Branding Poverty: The Values of Women’s Empowerment

4. “Open Happiness”: Empowering Emotions

5. The Entrepreneurialization of Feminized Labor

Conclusion: The Contradictions of Corporate Gender Politics


The Business of Women’s Empowerment fills a huge gap in the literature by beginning to investigate empirically the impacts of corporate initiatives to empower women through entrepreneurship. Moving beyond glossy brochures and filtered messages, the book unravels the complexities of such projects from a bottom-up perspective that shows how corporate projects become a part of women’s survival strategies. A page-turner and highly recommended!

Elisabeth Prügl, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Gender Centre at the Graduate Institute in Geneva

Sofie Tornhill is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Studies at Linnaeus University, Sweden.

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