Feminist mobilization and economic empowerment

 In this project we set out to discover the link between feminist mobilization and women’s economic empowerment on a global scale.

Using an original dataset on 126 countries over the years 1975-2015, we seek to answer:

  • How have patterns of feminist mobilization varied over the years and across countries and regions? Is feminism growing in strength or is it on the wane?
  • Is feminism a force for economic empowerment? Why do women have access to expansive economic rights in some countries and more restricted rights elsewhere?
  • How do national and transnational activism on women’s rights reinforce or undermine each other?

This project employs a mixed methods approach, creating a global database on feminist mobilization with extensive coverage of the global South, covering the time period from 1975 to 2015. Our analysis employs both new and established measures of domestic and transnational feminism. Using an analysis of big datasets of social media data we examine participation in on-line campaigns across our countries. Specifically, we use Twitter data comprised of millions of “tweets” and “retweets”  from key campaigns related to women’s economic empowerment to round out traditional measures of transnational feminism that focused more on brick and mortar organizations, lobbying, and face-to-face protests. To complement our large-scale statistical analysis, adding context and nuance to our interpretation of our results and deepening the insights available from the broader study, our team conducted fieldwork in seven countries. As a result, this project offers a systematic global analysis on the progress and determinants of women’s economic rights, unprecedented in temporal and geographic scope, providing fresh theoretical insight into questions about gender politics and feminist transformations.


Research Team

Primary Investigator

  • Laurel Weldon Professor, Distinguished SFU Professor  

Research Team

  • Srijani Datta MA, 2019 Simon Fraser University
  • Summer Forester Assistant Professor Carleton College
  • Katlin Kelly-Thompson PhD, 2020 Purdue University
  • Amber Lusvardi PhD Candidate Purdue University

Research Assistants

  • Bella Aung MA, 2019 Simon Fraser University
  • Majka Hahn MA Candidate McGill University