Bioethics Blogs

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: “Should feminists in rich countries shift their focus to international development?” written by Carolina Flores Henrique

This essay is a joint winner in the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics undergraduate category.

Written by University of Oxford student, Carolina Flores Henrique

I will argue that feminists should move some of their attention to evidence-based, cost-effective interventions targeted at improving the lives of women in poor countries. In particular, feminists in rich countries should shift resources to supporting interventions that improve health (e.g. fistula treatment), allow women to make their own reproductive choices (e.g. contraception distribution), and empower women economically (e.g. direct cash transfers) in poor countries.
Feminists should fundraise for and donate to effective charities working in these cause areas; bring their skills to researching effective ways to improve women’s
health and economic standing in poor countries; and give more of a voice to women in poor countries and the obstacles they face. 

Feminism is a movement that opposes sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.¹ It encompasses all women, and thus its scope should include those in extreme poverty. Further, if we have reason to think that some interventions in poor countries are much more effective at producing gender equality than interventions in rich countries (as I will argue below), justice may require us to shift resources to interventions in poor countries, for no plausible theory of justice is compatible with great inequality in resource allocation.

In addition to justice requiring fairer resource allocation, achieving the best results with finite resources requires us to compare different ways of acting and prioritize the most effective. Hence, in choosing a cause or intervention, we want to know how much good it will do, how likely we are to be successful, and whether others are already effectively working on this problem.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.