Research summary

The Impact of Gender, Women, Plastic Bags, and Globalization on Mali's Ecology

The authors of the article, Braun and Traore, discuss how gender, women, plastic bags, and globalization have affected Mali's ecology. The authors claim that women frequently depend on their surroundings to carry out their responsibilities. Environmental injustice, when women and racial minorities face the price of socio-environmental consequences, pollution, and environmental degradation, is one of the hidden costs of globalization (Braun & Traore 866).

Plastic Bag Pollution in Mali

The study was conducted in Mali, a West African nation where plastic bag pollution is a major issue (Braun et al. 869). From the interview carried out, different categories of women regarding age had diverse views on the use of plastic bags. Of the total number of women interviewed, women who were 40 years and below noted that the use of plastic bags was associated with modernity and civilization. Most women under the age of 40 felt proud when they walked with plastic bags while doing their shopping (Braun et al. 879). On the other hand, older women of 40 years and above preferred to carry traditional shopping baskets. For this reason, it was a big concern for these women because most young women had lost their Malian identity of using woven shopping baskets while embracing modernity (Braun et al. 879). Older women yearned for those days when women proudly carried traditional shopping bags to the market.

The Introduction of Plastic Bags in Mali

The authors record that there is no precise data on when plastic bags were introduced first in Mali. The 14 women among the sample of 40 that were interviewed noted that they were proud and enthusiastic to use plastic bags because when they were growing up, they never saw most women using reusable or traditional shopping bags which compelled them to embrace modern choices of using plastic bags for shopping (Braun et al. 879). Conversely, women over the age of 40 grew up when reusable bags were common in Mali, and plastic bags were rare (Braun et al. 879). These women feel that the use of plastic bags is a loss of the Malian cultural identity. Therefore, age, gender, and globalization dynamics shape the different experiences of women regarding the use of plastic bags as expressed in the above views. Some women such as Sina of Bamako claimed that the convenience of shopping is the reason for the widespread use of plastic bags in Mali, even though the bags favor the widespread of mosquitoes. A large percentage of women vendors were angry about plastic bags because of the health and environmental hazards that they bring to their communities (Braun et al. 879). However, most women admit that they are powerless to stop the spread of plastic bags in Mali because western consumerism has taken over in the country (Braun et al. 880).

The Need for Policy Change and Cultural Preservation

Some women such as Tafan insisted on the need for a change of policy on plastic bags. Prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, on the other hand, stressed that maintaining culture is the key to solving the menace of plastic bags (Braun et al. 880). Globalization is described by women vendors as one that erodes the local economic activities for women while at the same time degrading the environment. Weaving is an economic activity for women, and therefore the replacement of woven shopping bags with plastic bags has a negative effect on the local economy.

Challenges of Waste Management and Environmental Degradation

Lack of resources and infrastructure for waste management is another problem for waste management, and this is shaped by the dynamics of economic and political globalization. Women vendors bear the burdens of environmental degradation since there are no public services for waste management as Rouky narrated (Braun et al. 881). Comments by Rouky are evidence of a failed government in Mali where interests of the poor, especially women, are neglected even when everyone is entitled to a clean environment.


Women vendors understood that the problem of environmental degradation was majorly caused by plastic bags that are considered by women as modernity. The bottom line of the matter is that it is the same women that bear the burden of health and environmental risk because the government does not offer waste management services.

Work cited

Braun, Yvonne A., and Assitan Sylla Traore. “Plastic bags, Pollution, and identity: Women and the gendering of globalization and environmental Responsibility in Mali.” Gender & Society 29.6 (2015): 863-887.

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