Vandana Shiva, “Development, Ecology, and Women,” in May, 4th ed.,
Shiva contends that women have largely been left out of 20th century “development” in the third world countries, much as colonial peoples had been excluded and oppressed by “colonizers” in previous centuries. Productivity is linked to activities that promote development and capital profit—such as dams on rivers and the use of chemical fertilizers. Local, sustainable agriculture, with which women are most closely involved, is regarded as unproductive.
Shiva describes economic development as maldevelopment. Real wealth—that is, the wealth of nature and that produced by women—decreases as development measured by gross national product increases. Included in the gross national product are expenditures on such things as pollution control, and pollution is a by-product of economic development. For this reason, the gross national product includes failures of development in what it measures.
Production is not sacred, although it has been regarded as such by promoters of development. Prakriti understood as the natural form and development of the human body, the source of all life, is a female principle that may correct the paternalism of colonialism and development. As a female principle, it can provide a counterbalance to an over-emphasis on a male principle and re-direct concern to native populations and to the disproportionate burden on women victimized by production.