All posts by Tiago Santos

What would be the best way to advance feminism? Open borders

Tiago Ribeiro dos Santos, the author of this guest post, is a diplomat at the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil and a Master of Public Policy candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either institution.


Today is International Women’s Day. It is the day we celebrate how much women have achieved since the beginning of the feminist movement but, more than that, it is a day to realize how much there is still to accomplish in gender equality. Even in developed countries, discrimination happens in so many ways that it may be hard to pick a specific way to help the plight of women.

I say we should try to help the vast majority of women worldwide who live in poor, repressive societies. The challenges a woman in New York faces, however serious they are, pale in comparison to what a woman in the most repressive countries has to deal with.

Many feminists heavily prioritize advancing women’s rights in developing countries exactly because of this difference in the size of the challenges. Women (and men) from around the world fight practices such as stoning, female circumcision, abusive dress codes and several others. Most of the efforts involve some form of governmental or non-governmental pressure to stop these injustices from happening.

But one neglected approach is to allow these oppressed women move to a society where they would not be oppressed. To let them live a life (significantly) free of discrimination, persecution and poverty. Which is what open borders would achieve. The number of women who would benefit is enormous. As mentioned previously in the open borders blog, 49% of migrants are women, according to the International Organization for Migration.

I will not delve into what other effects an open borders policy would achieve, because many others have done so with much  more competence than I could attempt to achieve. What I would like people to take away from this day of reflection is that if we are serious about helping the most afflicted women in the world we should consider allowing them to enjoy the benefits we have already conquered alongside us.