Women and global activism

Women and gender are at the center of the global economy.   Globalization today is encouraging greater involvement by women to become activists who protest the socio-political-economic conditions born from the global impetus for “free trade” and contributing to phenomenal levels of global feminized poverty and systematic violence against women.  As defined by feminist scholar Joan Acker, “globalization refers to the increasing pace and penetrations of movements of capital, production and people across boundaries of many kinds and on a global basis.”  Yet too much of the discourse on globalization reads as if globalization is gender neutral, as if the only things that are important to the talk of globalization is changes in information technology or global finance and structural divides between wealthy and poor nations.   A truer globalization analysis should take into account not just the institutions and their needed reform (Stieglitz) but also needs to acknowledge how gender describes different kinds of realities for people caught up in the world’s “global transformation” whether they are women, migrants, workers, consumers.   As such even activism against globalization is a gendered phenomenon.  For example, the relocation and outsourcing that began in 1993 under NAFTA was not new to the workingwomen of the Mexican maquiladoras, nor were the conditions they faced as workers for U.S. employers intent on avoiding the higher wages they might have paid under past union contracts.    As stated in a report in 1999 by the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras (Border Committee of Working Women)  “On the border we have known the maquiladoras for 34 years and we are not satisfied.” (CFO, Six Years Under NAFTA).  The women of the CFO pointed out the unending struggle to end child labor and women and children’s exposure to toxic industrial chemicals in the workplace or their communities, unrelenting pressure to produce at piece rate wages in ways that destroyed worker’s bodies, skyrocketing costs of living and pay  that never meets the basic needs of the household.   The skewed nature of free trade “law” whether in NAFTA, CAFTA or other agreements, which always favors the corporate investor’s needs and minimizes a worker’s right to complain, whether against sexist ageism, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, miscarriages or permanent damage to reproductive capacity because of exposure to toxic chemicals, etc.,  is certainly a factor justifying women’s need to become more involved in protest against  the manifest forms of greedy global corporate power.  The gendered nature of globalization is demanding that women before more involved in global activism to save their lives, that of their children and families and to protect their communities and the planet.

About wpadmin

law prof emeritus, lawyer, writer.
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