Syeda Zartashia Azmat
Globalization is the new buzzword that has come to dominate the world since the nineties of the last century with the end of cold war. Globalization can be defined as “a complex economic, political, cultural, and geographic process in which the mobility of capital, organizations, ideas, discourses, and peoples has taken a global or transnational form (Moghadam 1999). Within the past two decades, globalization has created a tremendous impact on the lives of women in developing nations. Many critics fear that globalization, in the sense of integration of the country into world society will create gender inequality, it may harm women especially in the South in several ways. Economically, through discrimination in favor of male workers, marginalization of women in unpaid or informal labor, exploitation of women in low-wage sweatshop settings, and/or impoverishment though loss of traditional sources of income. Politically, through exclusion from the domestic political process and loss of control to global pressures. Culturally, through loss of identity and autonomy to a hegemonic global culture. At the same time, globalization affects different groups of women in different ways, creates new standards for the treatment of women, and helps women’s groups to mobilize. In situations where women have been historically repressed or discriminated under a patriarchal division of labor, some features of globalization may have liberating consequences. While in many countries women remain at a significant disadvantage, the precise role of globalization in causing or perpetuating that condition is in dispute.
Women “missing” the world—Evengline Anderson
The emergence of a global market, with its associated policies of privatization,” stabalization”, and liberalization has led to the setting up of smaller new industries with highly flexible organization and simple infrastructure in developing countries. Closely related to this “informalizaion” of work is the feminization of work. Women are being exploited but they can not raise their voices not even against the sexual harassment they may face in the work place. Patriarchy introduces new enemies within one’s own territory using definitions of ideal feminity. Women are asked to compare their beauty with one another :”Mirror, mirror on the wall ,who is the fairest of them all”?
A woman is identified in terms of her body. Globalization and its impact through the media have defined the ideal body of a “universal “and a “world” woman. One of the characteristics of globalization is fragmentation. The cosmetic industry will be helped only if the beauty of a woman is fragmented into her hair, teeth, skin, toe nails etc. The concept of beauty is standardized as slim, tall, fair, blonde, blue-eyed etc. An ideal feminine body is defined in terms of its slender shape.” Beauty can never be celebrated by the new global culture, it can only be vulgarized”.
The newspapers and other marriage bureau also reveal the discriminatory gender slant in announcing the need for a bride or a groom. Advertisements for the cosmetics also promise the buyer that constant use of certain cosmetics would make the women look “fair & lovely”. Women in a global market economy set up are just another commodity to be bought and sold at a price. The impact of economic globalization on women needs to be assessed in light of women’s multiple roles as productive and reproductive labour in their families as well as their contributions towards overall community cohesion and welfare and maintaining the social fabric. Because of women’s traditional roles in most societies in Asia as care givers, this burden has been disproportionately borne by women than men. In many countries, when public hospitals are privatized, middle to low income families rely more on informal forms of care. This is usually provided by the female members of household because of women’s traditional roles as service providers at home.
If basic education is privatized, it is more often girls who drop out of schools than boys because of beliefs that boys need formal education than girls. This has further implications for the type of employment that women are able to find when they move into the wage labor market.
Trade liberalization has also been shown to have differential impacts on women men. An essential aspect of trade liberalization is export competitiveness and much of this competitiveness in Asian countries has come from the labor of women.
The liberalization of agricultural sector has also affected women in a variety of ways, from losing access to local markets for their products to dislocation from traditional forms of livelihood, outward migration and resettlement. The developing countries of Asia are primarily rural economies where at least 50% of agriculture and food production is done by women.
The above are just examples of how women are affected by economic globalization. The range of impacts is both complex and vast and these impacts vary across countries, social and economic status, culture and also across time. One of the biggest challenges of tracing and fully understanding the ways in which globalization affects women is the absence of sex-disaggregated indicators and data in key sectors such as agricultural production and employment services and the informal sector.
With the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the 21st century, various organizations have been founded and created to defend the rights of women around the world and to further their advancement.
One exemplary organization, Women for Women International, empowers women through education, medical aid, and development. This organization helps women that have recently lived in conflict zone where much of their community resources and growth have been ravaged by war. Upon joining Women for Women International, these women undergo a yearlong rehabilitation process where they learn new livelihoods and are educated about political and economic rights.
Globalization offers women unprecedented opportunities, but equally new and unique challenges. Gender inequality springs from many sources, and it is often difficult to determine which forms of inequality are being eliminated by the effects of globalization, and which are exacerbated. Work toward eliminating gender inequality in the framework provided by the Beijing Platform for Action has created awareness, monitoring, and alleviation of the externalities that the new global system creates for women.
Progress toward eliminating gender inequality in the future depends on finding and embracing the occasions, mostly in the political and legal realm, where the global approach strengthens women’s security and welfare, and fighting the issues, mostly in the economic realm, where women are made worse off by the new global system.