INTRODuCTION Victoria Bernal and Inderpal Grewal
The NGO Form
Feminist Struggles, States, and Neoliberalism
In 2012, as we write this introduction, nongovernmental organiza-
tions (nGos) have become normalized as key players in national
and global politics. These organizations are now well established
as an institutional form around the globe, especially in relation
to questions of women’s welfare and empowerment. The “nGo
boom,” as Sonia Alvarez (whose work is included here) calls it,
has been achieved (Alvarez 1999). By 2000 it was estimated that
nGos were disbursing between twelve and fifteen billion dollars
per year (Edwards and Fowler 2002). By 2010, in some parts of the
world, the nGo sector had become more powerful than the state
itself.1 Yet nGos remain poorly understood despite their ubiquity,
or perhaps partly because of their rapid proliferation and diversi-
fication. However, they have created a track record over the last
three decades, and this record as well as the need to move be-
yond the celebratory perspective on nGos that characterized the
1980s and 1990s has led to a more probing analytical stance. This
anthology explores what is distinctive about nGos, and how and
with what consequences they have come to be so strongly asso-
ciated with women and feminist issues.
Today feminism as a social movement seems less visible than
the plethora of nGos addressing gender issues and women’s wel-
fare. Scholars such as Sabine Lang (also a contributor to this vol-
ume) used the phrase “the nGoization of feminism” to describe
this development (Lang 1997). As a response to these changes,
a body of feminist research has emerged that interrogates the
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