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2. How does globalization affect women?

Many critics fear that globalization, in the sense of integration of a country into world society, will exacerbate 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, many women's advocates recognize that 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.

Beijing+5 Outcome Document

This report of the 2000 General Assembly special session reviews progress made since the 1995 UN conference on women; it notes that globalization presents opportunities to some women but causes marginalization of many others; it advocates "mainstreaming" as the way to achieve gender equality.

Gender and Globalization: Female Labor and Women's Mobilization

In this Journal of World-Systems Research article, Valentine Moghadam argues that women play a distinct role in globalization, experience more harmful effects, and become a constituency for antisystemic movements.

Gender and Poverty

In this UNDP monograph, Lourdes Beneria and Sivitri Bisnath argue that gender influences both the causes and consequences of poverty; to compensate for women's weaker structural position and the bias in traditional development policy, their needs now demand special attention.

Gender Justice and Economic Justice

Gita Sen and Sonia Onufer Correa argue in this paper prepared for the UNIFEM Beijing+5 review that the clash of free-market globalization and patriarchal reactions poses new dilemmas for women committed to equality.

Preparing to Understand Feminism in the 21st Century

In this Journal of World-Systems Studies article, Torry Dickinson outlines a feminist perspective on the uneven effects of "selective globalization" on women.

Toward a Feminist Analytics of the Global Economy

In this Indiana Global Legal Studies Journal article, Saskia Sassen argues for a feminist approach to the study of globalization that shows how the declining sovereignty of the state, evident in the new role of world cities and the rise of new legal regimes, affects women.

Women's Human Rights

Charlotte Bunch and Samantha Frost chronicle the emergence of the concept of women's human rights and the rise of organizations that support it.

Women's resources

Links to organizations working on the status of women, provided by the Rutgers University Center for Women's Global Leadership.

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  1. What is globalization?
  2. How does globalization affect women?
  3. Does globalization cause poverty?
  4. Why are so many people opposed to globalization?
  5. Does globalization diminish cultural diversity?
  6. Can globalization be controlled?



Copyright 2000-2001 - Frank Lechner