Friday, January 25, 2008
"It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race." (Kofi Annan, 2006)
Our religious institutions values shape and inform our decision making about engagement in public issues. I contend that in order to live out those values we hold dear such as justicemaking and peacebuilding, we must be engaged in the larger world, thus bringing a message of hope and renewal to the suffering and poor. Rebecca Todd Peters succinctly states, “Living as justice were our calling is a critical way of defining what it means to be human.” Similarly, Nancy Cardos Pereira, a participant at the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Brazil in 2006, adamantly expressed the following, “United States churches must confront the impact of economic globalization.” As ministers of conscience we must first understand the issues of globalization to effectively engage our congregants and communities.
In this paper I will focus on globalization and its impact on women. Why the focus on women? In general, the dominant discourse fails to address the full experience of women’s realities. Radicalizing the emancipatory analysis of globalization by bringing from the margin to the center the critique of the roles and experiences of women in the developing world adds a perspective that is often lacking because of male biases. Any serious understanding of is compelled to include a gender analysis because women remain severely under-represented in almost all aspects of life. Simply put, I desire to tell the stories of women’s lives that are not being told. There are effects of globalization that no one would condone and would act to prevent these kinds of negative effects if they were more widely understood. Part of my job as I see it is to tell the story, to place these stories in the imagination of others. In doing so I am arguing for the need to enrich the political imagination of peacebuilders and justice seeking people and those shaping our economies. My niche is clergy, women, the poor and oppressed, hence, the focus on women. Thus, this essay explores the impact of globalization on women. It will identify the four globalization approaches: economic, political, cultural and religious. However, it will only focus on the economic approach.
Context of the Problem
From the tallest skyscrapers proliferating in urban cities, to the most poverty stricken ghettos and villages, someone somewhere is either directly or indirectly talking about globalization and its affects on their lives and communities. While the claim that globalization is on everyone’s mind might be a slight exaggeration, what cannot be contested is that almost everyone is impacted by globalization. Yet, given women’s alarming conditions worldwide that reflect some of the poorest health indices and highest rates of violence, what is sometimes glaringly missing from the discourse on globalization is a gender analysis of its impact on women. The leaders of the world appear powerless to halt the steady onslaught of debilitating poverty, disease and crime in developing nations, while multinational corporations accelerate their marketing efforts to garner consumers and expand global markets to the detriment of the poor whose only hope is often to resort to informal economies to acquire some semblance of the “good life.” The growing numbers of young people globally involved in illegal activity is directly related to poverty, as well as the capitalist beliefs that equate materialism with happiness. Furthermore, quality of life is equated with having access to goods and services which is seen as a way to achieve happiness and respect from others. Internationalization has made permanent and secure employment a rarity for the poorest of the poor who resort to the informal economic sector that often includes illegal and unsavory activities such as prostitution, drug and human trafficking and smuggling.
Globalization is 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.” In general, much of the opposition to globalization concerns the domination of wealthy countries policies and their failure to appreciate and alleviate the negative impact on developing countries and their citizens as the divide between the haves and have nots threatens to disastrously escalate out of control. What is at issue are two conflicting perspectives. One perspective is based on the rhetoric of the owners of capital which suggests that globalization is good for everyone and will produce great benefits for the developing and developed world. The other perspective is rooted in the reality of the impoverished nations of the world, the overwhelming majority that report a different reality, one that indicates they are not benefitting from globalization. Along with these general concerns, more specific gender issues have been expressed. It is the failure in earlier years to consider gender in development that proved so disastrous. For instance in the Africana world, the focus of this paper, women produce about 80 percent of the locally consumed and marketed food. The term, Africana world is used here to reference the continent of Africa and its inhabitants. Additionally, the Economic Commission for Africa estimates that females account for 60-80 percent of all labor hours in agriculture. Hence, once again, the failure to recognize gender hierarchies in society disadvantages women and contributes to their continued marginalization. Because the state is male dominated in most developing nations it distorts women's ability to shape their lives on their own terms. Furthermore, a male dominated state influences how women experience the laws, it policies and spending patterns. Women still remain severely under-represented in politics and decision-making positions. Male dominated political systems often reflect the male biases of males and often fail to reflect women's needs. What is the connection, if any, between the plight of women and globalization? How are women impacted? Those are questions this essay seeks to address.
According to UN estimates women are disadvantaged in virtually every aspect of
their lives. Women’s marginalization reveals a fragile state of affairs globally as seen in the following statistics:
*Up to 3 million women a year lose their lives to gender-based violence or neglect, while millions more are victims of infanticide in countries that value male over female children
*Women account for almost half of all HIV/AIDS cases worldwide, and in Africa, close to 70 percent of infected people are women. Elderly women, often the poorest, are left to care for the children of AIDS victims.
*As many as 4 million girls and women a year are sold into prostitution
*Two million females suffer genital mutilation, often in conditions that lead to lifelong pain, infection and premature death
*One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime.
*The number of women over 60 is growing, but they are more likely than men to end their days in poverty.
*Women are more insecure in the working world, unemployed longer and more frequently than men.
*Women are educationally handicapped; two-thirds of the world’s 876 million illiterates are women
These statistics poignantly reveal women’s unequal access to and lack of control over resources, resulting in their subsequent vulnerabilities that place them at greater risk simply because of their gender. There are literally no limits to the ways in which women’s lives are rendered vulnerable because they are women. Women are paid less than men for the same work in the public sector, while receiving no compensation for their work in the private sector despite the fact that women’s domestic functions greatly reduce government’s costs for the care and well being of family members.
Some 600,000 women die in childbirth, many for lack of medical attention or sanitation
Pragmatically, even women’s most basic biological functions, their ability to produce and nurture future laborers for the state and the global market, are at risk because of government’s inability to effectively provide for women’s basic health care as demonstrated by the aforementioned statistic on fatalities in childbirth.
The following section provides a review of the most prevalent paradigm, the
economic model. Although the other models will not be covered they include:
political, cultural, and religious.
The economic approach, the most prevalent of the approaches includes as its supporters the “owners of capital” and “engines of big business” that drive the growth and trade in the new global economy. Its supporters contend that the global market and not ideologies or political actors determine the future of the world, hence the significance of this model. While this approach was conceived in academia, scholars usually equate its genesis with the convening of the Bretton Wood Conference of 1944. This conference was convened post World War II to negotiate recovery efforts of world leaders for Germany and Japan. This economic approach acquired a number of monikers including some of the following: Washington consensus, laissez-faire, structural adjustment, big business, neo-liberalism, trickle-down or supply-side economics. One of the strengths of this approach is its increased economic interdependence and the intergeneration of national economies into one economy within the framework of a capitalist market. Its supporters contend that markets are more efficient at providing services than governments whose regulations tend to inhibit economic growth, expansion and trade. Having addressed war recovery efforts, by the 1970s the world powers turned their attention to their former colonies, a relationship that was characterized by extreme economic disparities and equally imbalanced power dynamics. As a result of this dependency the Africana world continued its cycle of underdevelopment historically fostered through the exploitation and diversion of its human and natural resources. The militarization of African politics during the Cold War resulted in more than half of African's nation states succumbing to military rule by the mid 1980s. The outbreak of deveastatng civil wares in Africa further plagued the continent that included Nigeria and the Sudan. In the wake of rowing violence, the world's largest super powers, the United States and Soviet Union saw fit to play out its deadly Cold War politics and thus conflicts and aggressive global politics dominated the global landscape. The erosion of democratic political structures at one point leeft only two AFrican countries intact out of the fifty-four. African's growing inability to sustain its agricultural production also left her increasingly dependant overtime on the World Bank and the Intermonetary Fund for its impotent development schemes that continued to produce less than spectacular results. Thus, the reality for the average Africana man, woman and child some contend, is that they are poorer today than they were at independence. Some of the factors that contributed to developing nations dependency included: terms of trade, high interest rates, embargoes and export of inflation. Furthermore, the acquisition of arms and racial and inter-group discrimination resulted in turmoil and chaos, furthering Africa’s dependency status.
Several significant changes characterize the economic approach: 1) a shift in commodities from capital and materials to knowledge; 2) changes in the mode of production from industry to information technology; 3) production driven by decentralized and geographically scattered sites that are based on cheap raw materials and labor; 4) emphasis on cooperation between economic institutions and national politics and 5) emphasis on comparative advantage, that is, consumer demand and availability of markets. Two current examples of comparative advantage that characterize the economic approach are Singapore and Bangladesh. Singapore is now the biggest producer of computer hardware and Bangladesh is the biggest producer of men’s clothing. However, while these two countries for the most part have benefitted from globalization's emphasis on cheap raw materials and labor, cooperative trade agreements and consumer demand and availability of markets, others in the Africana world have not been so fortunate. Some of this misfortune has been due to the policies of the World Bank that have placed constraints on developing nations that were already strapped with loans that flowed to them during more lucrative times. Policies such as structural adjustment are merely one of the obstacles to development in the African World.
Structural Adjustment Policies
Structural adjustment policies were borne on the backs of women in developing nations. Structural adjustment is a generic term used to describe the process by which many developing nations reshaped their economies to a more free market orientation. The government changes who the primary decision makers are and the mechanisms that determine what is produced and how. Many developing nations “complied” with structural adjustment as a condition to receive new loans from foreign commercial banks and/or multilateral institutions such as International Monetary Fund and World Bank. During the 1950s and 1960s western economists erroneously thought that poverty in developing nations was due to a lack of capital. Thus commercial lending institutions flush with petro dollars courted developing nations with much needed loans during the 1970s. When poverty had not been eradicated it became clear that economists had erred. In an effort to render corrective measures the focus shifted to an emphasis on equity and distribution of resources. The early 1980s still produced the dismal failures of earlier decades. However, the irony was that even though some people rose out of poverty, other fell into its bottomless pit. The World Bank began structural adjustment lending in 1979. By the early 1980s commercial bank lending was dried up to all but a few developing countries.
Typically grandiose rhetoric that often characterizes the economic approach includes statements like the following, “globalization has practically ended competition and established a harmonious global market place” “The world is a much better place than it used to be, in large part because of the advances that globalization has allowed.” “The economic advancements that globalization offers can be shared with the whole human race.” “The success of growth and trade policies in the West means that globalization offers the same promise of hope to the global South.” This kind of rhetoric assumes that developing nations can easily break into export markets. Instead, not only do they face uneven playing fields but additionally non-tariff protectionist barriers are designed to keep them off the playing field. Furthermore, such grandiose statements do not address the damage inflicted on poor nations by globalization policies. Detractors of the economic approach include scholars such as Karl Poltayi, who contends that to,“ allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their national environment would result in demolition of society.” George Soros, another detractor, declared the death of global capitalism with his doomsday prediction that, “Global capitalism is coming apart.” Additionally, Robert Reich, former United States Secretary of Labor warned against the erroneous assumption that focuses on the economic rather than what he contends is political.
Case Studies in Globalization
Two case studies of globalization run amuck are gleaned from Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India and five multinational oil firms in Nigeria; Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip and Exxon Mobil and Chevron from the United States. Beginning with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, there appears to be a double standard when it comes to multinational corporation (mnc) products. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have continued to sell their soft drink products in India even though they have been shown to contain high levels of pesticides. Three years ago the Indian government confirmed the danger. On at least ten different occasions since January 2005, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has rejected the shipment of Coca-Cola products made in India coming into the United States because they did not meet (USFDA) regulations. The products were considered unsafe for the United States public but the same products continue to be sold in India. Plachimada, Kerala, one of Coca-Cola’s largest bottling plants has been closed since March 2004 because of community opposition based on the disregard for the well being of Indian consumers. It appears that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have not practiced corporate social responsibility in India. For example, they use millions of liters of water every day, yet pay nothing for the water. Coca-Cola has placed many of its bottling plants in “drought prone” areas that were already experiencing severe water crisis. Since the arrival of Coca-Cola five years ago tests indicate that the water levels have dropped ten meters. Tests conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all of the Coca-Cola waste that it surveyed. Prior to the survey, Coca-Cola was distributing its toxic waste to surrounding farmers as fertilizer that was produced in its bottling plants.
In Nigeria, the oil companies have come under death threats because locals feel exploited after forty-five years of no visible benefits. The five oil companies at question are Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Italy’s Agip and Exxon Mobil and Chevron from the United States. While the fragile Nigerian landscape has suffered from the imprint of 4,500 miles of pipelines, 159 oil fields and 275 flow stations that burn night and day and are visible for miles, the fishing and farming ecosystem have been badly damaged and perhaps permanently destroyed. Locals are demanding a share of the oil wealth in their territories and have essentially declared war on the oil companies. This has resulted in bloodshed between the government militia and local resisters who have resorted to kidnapping oil personnel for ransom. Meanwhile, prior to the advent of the oil industry in 1960 Nigeria produced agricultural products such as palm oil and cacao beans that made up nearly all of Nigeria’s exports. In an ironic twist, Nigeria now imports more than it produces. Nigeria is now among the 15 poorest countries in the world with 70 percent of its people living below the poverty line. The Nigerian government documented 6,817 oil spills – practically one a day for twenty-five years. Nigeria rates below all other major oil nations and its annual per capita income of $1,400 is less than Senegal which exports mainly fish and nuts according to Tom O’Neil, a journalist that visited Nigeria and witnessed the devastation first hand. In 2006 Shell and the other multinationals experienced record profits. Meanwhile, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a national hero and seven others were hanged by the Nigerian government to make an example of them and to discourage others from taking up militant protests. Meanwhile, things have not improved according to a recent Human Rights Watch Report:
Multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have become drawn into the region’s conflicts in a way that had made the companies central parties to them. While there are real constraint on the companies ability to extricate themselves, they
have often failed to meet their basic responsibilities towards the communities around them. Companies have generally not responded effectively to human rights abuses committed by security forces assigned to protect their operations. They have also
failed to curb environmentally harmful practices such as gas flaring, or to eliminate the occurrence of oil spills caused by aging and poorly maintained infrastructures.
In one of the most comprehensive studies on globalization titled, Scorecard on Globalization 1980-2000, a team of researchers including Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker concluded that key measures of progress have declined globally in the past twenty years:
Economic growth and rates of improvement in life expectancy, child mortality, education levels and literacy all have declined in the era of global corporatization
(1980- 2000) compared to the years 1960-1980—a period in which many countries maintained protectionist policies to insulate their economies from the international market to nurture their domestic industries and allow them to become competitive. Those policies are the same ones on which U.S. economic prosperity was built. From 1980-2000, most countries followed the paths of public spending cuts, corporatization of public services, implementing fees for health care (and education in many cases), and removing government protection for young industries. Many of the world’s poor and mid-income countries experienced unprecendented levels of foreign debt and loss of their wealth to interest on loans during the period. . . Reduced progress in education as evidenced by declining school enrollment rates and literacy. Slower growth in domestic spending correlates to decreased educational spending.
Analysis of Globalization’s Impact on Women
The best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women.
Before discussing globalization’s impact on women it is helpful to provide a brief overview on gender. Gender roles are socially constructed and represent the economic and institutional factors that define male and female roles in most societies. Gender as a term refers to the social and cultural determinants which reflect the existing differences between men and women; as opposed to biological differences determined by factors which are anatomical, hormonal and physiological in nature. In other words, women and men’s roles are created and not inherent. Men and women, females and males acquire gender scripts throughout their lives. These scripts reflect the systematic and structural differences that society ascribes to men and women. Socio economic processes cannot be understood in isolation from the cultural perceptions which people have of those processes. The changing ideas about males and females influence the transformation of production relations in a society under going radical changes. Individuals and groups of people may experience gender tensions during this period of transition. The position of women in a male dominated society is shaped by tradition, policymakers, and political economies, just to name a few of the influential factors. Gender is a way of signifying relationships of power. Women tend to be at a disadvantage in a male dominated society because of the tremendous power imbalances. Power is often transferred from males to males, thus denying women opportunities to participate in the brokering of power for the most part. Women's work in most societies to some degree or another reflect this deference of power. This sexual division of labor means that much of the work involved in reproducing labor power is done by women.
In situations concerning financial constraints, gender concerns are inevitably given a low priority, thus women are marginalized. This is the experience of many women in developing countries, that is, those governments that have a commitment to promoting women's equality, when confronted with fiscal realities compromise "women's issues". Women's issues are seen as "soft" and less important. If it appears there are benefits in supporting women's issues then the ruling elite will do so. Generally, the pattern in Africa has been that women are excluded from the decision making process.
Sources of Women’s Inequalities
According to Welch, women in Africa, especially those in rural areas, suffer more in comparison than in most other parts of the world. The primary source of women’s suffering identified by some scholars are cultural barriers interacting with low levels of economic development. In order to understand the unique nuances of women’s oppression in different cultural contexts, it is necessary to understand both the systems of production and the culture that supports the status of women in a given society. Thus, violence against women then is interrogated using the lens of a conceptual framework that recognizes the phenomenon of gender based violence which is merely the end result of both the material and ideological aspects of women’s status in a misogynist society that views women as property. Nicola-McLaughlin notes the international nature of the struggle of women and concludes that , “women are oppressed in a multidimensional fashion and all oppressions are not necessarily exhibited in economic relations but at the levels of the cultural superstructure.” The issue of violence against women will be addressed more fully at a later time in this paper.
Women's changing relationship to the state is often mirrored by their economic reality. Because state formation is a gendered process and overwhelmingly controlled by men in developing nations, women are never central to state power, thus, the laws, policies and resource allocation reflect the interests of males. Additionally women are far too often invisible entities and their markedly different access to and their relationships with the state tends to place them at a disadvantage, particularly in the developing nations. The following factors have been identified as concerns that impact women differently in globalization:
*Multinational corporations target women employees
*Lack of opportunities for females
*Reinforcement of gender stereotypes
*Hazardous work conditions
*Discrimination against women workers
*Structural adjustment loans
*Retaliatory actions from males or family members
*Multinational corporations target women employees – Multinational corporations have determined that female employees are better suited for assembly work. Women tend to be compliant and eager to please. Additionally, in many developing countries assembly work is considered “women’s work” and so males will not consider such work.
*Other women are attracted to the work because of the lack of opportunities in other industries. Furthermore, women are expected to and will work for less and multinational corporations exploit this factor. The lack of opportunities for females is often due to their subordinate status in society that precludes education. Thus women start off with more obstacles. In some settings it is more difficult for females to obtain employment in the public sector. In some societies it is not acceptable to work outside the home and to do so the woman will be going against the social norms. And yet, women are becoming the breadwinners when males for whatever reason are not available. Off shore sourcing is another way that multinational corporations are targeting women. While the upside is many women work for wages that exceed local expectations, the bottom line is the company is still exploiting her and she making considerably less because she is a “third world citizen” and because she is a woman.
*Reinforced gender stereotypes - In many instances globalization has reinforced gender stereotypes in the following ways: offering lower wages than males, relegating women to “women’s work” and failure to consider women for supervisory or management positions.
*Hazardous work conditions – women are subjected to unregulated and therefore, unsafe working conditions that can cause health problems and injuries. Women in textile factories are exposed to dust and lint that can lead to lung ailments. Women working in electronic factories are often exposed to carcinogenic chemicals and not versed on appropriate ventilation. Speed ups to make production can cause women to feel stressed and under pressure. In some instances women are not allowed to take adequate breaks for fear that production will run behind. Supervisors, usually males, may subject the women to verbal and physical abuse to intimidate them into pushing their quotas. Unfortunately, another occupational hazard for women is sexual harassment. Being subjected to inappropriate sexual touching, innuendos or forced to have sex with a superior in order to keep their job is a common abuse of power by some males in authority.
*Family roles – World wide women are forced to endure double days, that is, time spent on a paid job outside the home and then they return home to work a second shift of domestic chores. Or another scenario might be that she cannot assume a job because of her responsibilities at home, yet she is expected to contribute.
Double standards – Females are often less valued in many societies. Therefore females begin life in utero subjected to being aborted. When they are born there may be less cause for celebration. House hold chores and child care are all assigned at an early age to females. Higher Education is commonly reserved for males. This cycle then limits female’s life choices. Some women working in a non traditional role such as a factory setting may begin to assimilate and assume western dress. Family members may reject her. Once no longer employed some women may find it difficult to reenter into their family system and resume their life. Some women leave their jobs because they realize the price is too great and that they will not be able to find a husband.
*Discrimination against women workers – While MNC’s have been guilty of targeting women workers because they make better employees than their male counterparts, the same women are discriminated against once hired. Single young women without children appear to be the preference of MNC’s. If any women are unfortunate enough to become pregnant while employed they are usually fired. Pregnancy is considered undesirable and has nothing to do with the woman’s ability to sustain her output but the biased perception of pregnancy as a prolonged state of sickness and therefore a liability to be avoided. In work places where there are often no employee benefits such as sick leave for the occasional cold are not available. Sick days for morning sickness or doctor’ appointments are inconceivable. The possibilities of returning to work after pregnancy are nonexistent. Other discriminations include failure to provide feminine hygiene products and clean wholesome bathroom and break environments.
Structural adjustment loans (SALs) – SALs require cuts in public expenditures. These all impact women disproportionately. Women are nutritionally, culturally and economically less affluent than men in most instances. In a Zambian Integrated Rural Development Project increased instances of child malnutrition surfaced. Upon investigation, it was determined that among the children that had developed malnutrition the women had increasingly less time to care for them because they were working on their husbands cash-crops. At a time when more resources needed to be directed towards families, spending was directed towards large-scale prestige projects that tied development assistance to exports and the promotion of foreign policy objectives.
*Retaliatory actions from male or family - A Sri Lankan woman participated in a local credit card program that allowed women to process cashew nuts in their homes. As a result of her economic success the woman initiated a legal separation from her abusive husband. Her husband and friends reacted hostilely. They subsequently labeled her a “hard” woman and allegations of prostitution were leveled against her. In another instance in a Mexican project the participants experienced increasing levels of domestic violence from their partners. Once it was understood that the males were using violence to reclaim their authority programs were created for the males. Globalization is affecting the social relations between women, men and their communities. It is important to understand that the improvement of women’s status can upset the fragile social relations between genders traditionally based on men’s power and control over women.
Gender based violence has been shown to increase as a result of development in the form of globalization, hence an effort is made to provide at least a basic treatment of this growing phenomenon.
Domestic Violence as a Development Issue
Never before has international trade been so crucial to the prosperity and even the survival of local economies. Central to the prosperity and survival of local economies in the global economy is women’s roles. Women constitute a large and increasingly critical segment of the labor force in many industrializing and industrialized countries. Yet women’s potential to contribute to their country’s development is threatened by traditional customs and power inequities that exist in a context of economic and cultural domination. Power inequalities that are imposed by local institutions and individual males in society are mirrored in economic relationships between powerful and powerless males in their mostly Southern countries and more powerful men in northern countries. And women are caught in the cross fire
Decades after efforts to integrate women into development, the visibility and recognition of gender based violence as a development issue still poses obstacles to development programs and policy goals. Women, development and gender violence have only converged in recent years as a critical issue partly due to the synergy generated by the UN Decade for Women. Women’s global advocacy and feminist discourse helped to shift the development model from a Women and Development (WAD) and Women in Development (WID) model to the more current model of Gender and Development (GAD). During the earlier years of WID and WAD there were few efforts to link these issues prior to the Nairobi conference goals. For too long violence has been viewed as a personal issue between partners relegated to the private sphere. Robin Morgan’s lengthy examination of the state of women’s conditions in the 1980’s and more recently in seventy countries in 1996 dramatically depicted the heightened visibility of gender violence on a global agenda. Nearly all of the 70 contributors identified gender violence in their respective countries as a pervasive problem. Reconceptualizing violence against women as a social problem rather than an individual problem has helped to transform the perception of the problem.
In Papua New Guinea battery is identified by women as the main reason for divorce. In China 25 percent of the divorces are due to battery or family violence. In another instance in Madras, the Working Women’s Forum almost collapsed according to Carrillo when the most articulate and experienced women dropped out of the program after they experienced increased incidents of domestic violence after beginning the Program. The Association for the Development and Integration of Women (ADIM) in Lima combined its income generating project with support services from the local legal aid to battered wives and women abandoned by their partners. This decision reflected their understanding of the connection between the shift in power dynamics with the women’s access to outside resources and spouses resorting to the use of violence in an effort to control his partner.
Although we most often think of development in southern countries, Seitz’s work with impoverished Applachian women in the United State of North America reminds us of the parallels that are captured in the poignant words of one of her research participants, “Working outside the home, that sometimes makes it worse because the men can’t handle the women not being slaves.
UNIFEM funded projects from various regions of the world and has increasingly identified violence against women as a major barrier to women’s participation in or capacity to benefit from developing projects. In a review of the Country Human Rights Reports that surveys 70 countries, almost without exception, the “women sections” designated violence against women as a social issue. MATCH International, a Canadian NGO conducted a global survey in which violence against women was also identified as the most frequent concern. The findings inspired MATCH to launch a program linking their development mission with that of violence against women as a top priority.
Violence Against Women as a Human Rights Issue
The recognition of women’s rights as human rights has taken place in a global arena in the last two decades. It is not the false beliefs and bad attitudes of males, although that contributes to women’s oppression, but according to Narayan and Harding, it is the , “institutional, societal and civilizational or philosophic forms of sexism that have exerted the most powerful effects on women’s lives. Furthermore, these are the forms they note, that are least visible to women’s daily lives.
Some of women’s basic human rights articulated in the Declaration of Human Rights are
1) right to movement and to work outside of the home, 2) right to bodily integrity, that is, freedom from violence, 3) healthcare, 4) adequate standard of living and , 5) housing . Unfortunately, women are discriminated against in all of the world’s countries. This discrimination is often justified as being in accordance to religious aspects of many of the cultures practiced in the world today.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
A global tribunal on non-governmental organizations met in Vienna in 1993 in conjunction with the Second World Conference on Human Rights to urge that violence against women be recognized as a violation of human rights. This request was an attempt to highlight the connections between the murder, torture and sexual coercion and abuse of women and their economic vulnerability.p24 A major worldwide petition drive was launched. The petition urged the conference to, “comprehensively address women’s human rights at every level of its proceedings”
Research findings indicated that the 1970s were marked by rapid growth of American and European multinational corporations in the developing world. While these companies expanded markets and made new goods available, they also exerted predatory competition on local industries that disproportionately impacted women. Women’s generally more vulnerable status is captured in the following expression, “When the man catches a cold, the woman catches pneumonia.” Some of the factors that result in globalization’s disproportionate effects include some of the following: 1) women are overburdened with "women's work," that is, work perceived as less valued, menial, undeserving of time and attention by husbands, developers, planners; 2) researchers, historians, etc. have failed to consider the work of women. This has had dire effects on women and in too many instances has rendered women invisible; women's work is not included in the Gross National Product of many countries, developed or industrialized; 3) Africana women use more primitive equipment and tools than men, and consistently work under more austere conditions; 4) traditional society views women as subservient to men and often imposes rigid gender roles. This sexual division of roles has serious implications in women’s development 5) Many Africana nations have failed to prioritize women equitably on their development agendas and have thus sent a message to Africana men that there is support for society's sexist behavior and attitudes; and 6) women have fewer options to support themselves and many become more dependent on males and are vulnerable to men's abuses of power, that is, battering, abandonment, sexual abuse, as well as economic fluctuations.
Two theoretical debates emerged in developing countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa. These two theories, dependency theory and underdevelopment theory provided a counter analysis to modernization theory that left many unanswered questions in the light of developments failures. Both theories are particularly relevant to the current discourse on globalization because they address one of the greatest concerns, that is, the unequal power dynamics that result from the relationship between the North and South. It is also a reminder that globalization is not new and that the concept of a world economy that presumed movement within and between the strata of an economy regulated by market forces was indeed not new.
The fiscal crisis of the 1980s resulted in developing countries inability to pay their external debts. The measures imposed by the IMF and the WB) in order to borrow money disproportionately impacted women. The previous years of generous loans from the IMF and WB came back to haunt developing nations as a result of changing policies. Loans were still available but with increasing policies calling for cuts in public expenditure, development of a more efficient and transparent and accountable state. During the 1990s the IMF maintained their Structural Adjustment Plan, while the WB began to gain a deeper understanding of other factors that affected economic performance. Factors such as non-market behavior, welfare economies, transaction costs, property rights and institutions were explored.
This essay explored the complex phenomenon of globalization and its impact on women with a focus on the Africana world. It described the theological foundation that compels our involvement as Unitarian Universalist seminarians and ministers with this issue. This essay demonstrated that globalization can bring about the transformation of society in the following ways: raising living standards, reducing poverty, strengthening the environment through development models and policies that are sustainable and establishing durable, deep-rooted policies under girded by societal transformation that accompany democratic processes. Aspects of globalization that threaten successful human development include: rising inequalities, marginalizing of labor and growing economic insecurities as a result of shifting geographic sites based on available cheap labor. Thus, it is necessary to propose a theory of globalization that affirms growth and trade as vital elements of economic development, while addressing poverty, degradation, insecurity and the rising disregard for personal well-being, all while considering the impact of globalization on women. We are compelled to promote justice and inject our ethics in every day issues. We must wrestle with a disenchanted world that is increasingly susceptible to nihilism all seeking to build new theologies and ideologies that strive toward right relations and model justice in the world.