The presence of globalization has been felt and experienced by women in their struggle for economic and political liberalization. It has impacted the economic, political and social activities and lives of women in a fairly comparable manner to male counterparts.
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However, due to the position and roles of international, transnational and multinational corporations, the resulting problems have not been profoundly detected. The contribution of women globally through their agency has been variously impacted by global capital, international institutions and structural adjustment programs (SAPs).
Primarily, the spread of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sought to undertake measures to curb the limited resources, political influence and organization membership. The “Latin American feminist NGO boom” is according to Sonia Alvarez to blame for the change of guard from NGOs to the feminist activists and the scholars.
Historically, the success of feminist political activism is evidenced by the improved and expanded battered women’s shelters and rape centers commissioned in the 1970s. As the work of the activists and scholars has bettered the lives and position of women, the women shelters and rape centers have currently been converted into sites for organized public advocacy, crisis intervention and community education (Naples and Manisha).
Similarly, the women shelters and rape centers also provide supportive services to abuse survivors, the elderly, rape victims and children. Complaints have arisen against the institutionalization of activism against women violence both in the crisis centers and shelters, due to the vibrancy of the feminist antiviolence movement.
In opposition, Clare Weber outlines the contribution of transnational feminist networks through publicizing the limits of national and local organizing against violence on women. For instance, the meeting by Nicaraguan women with the U.S. antiviolence counterparts elaborated the organizing strategies that the U.S. had adopted to their fight to end violence against women.
Nevertheless, the success of the local activists in connecting their organizing with the transnational movements called for understanding the institutional and network links among women participants across diverse regions.
Due to the support from laws enacted in respect to gender balance across the business environment, the contribution of networks in empowering women has been a success. Currently, employers are required to employ a gender-sensitive workforce, while the business sector has been customized to allow women set up and operate businesses that were previously dominated by their male counterparts.
Unfortunately, the worldwide increases in food prices negatively impact single mothers as well as those widowed and cater for their families single-handedly.
Because of the threats of diet deficiency diseases and malnutrition, especially for the mothers who ensure their children are fed before they can eat, women groups in India, Zimbabwe and other developing countries pushed for the establishment of a public distribution system that provides subsidized food for the urban and rural poor.
Through the affiliation with the World food program, other women groups pushed for the supply of minimum food for subsistence for women and children.
According to (Naples and Manisha), the SAPs have affected women lives in the South on a daily basis. Through the engineering of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the SAPs impacted women through: first, negatively affecting on women’s paid work, by poorly-paying for their work or working without being paid.
Secondly, women that benefit from employment in the informal sector work under poor conditions and receive payments that are below the standard market rates. Thirdly, due to decline in public funding for education, health and social services, their share of unpaid labor in the home has equally increased.
Lastly, diminishing land used for local subsistence and cultivation deprived from them for global production, damage to the environment increases. However, despite the above effects of SAPs and other neoliberal policies, women through their transnational solidarity networks have responded equitably.
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Primarily, the NGOs mobilized for resources for empowerment of women, as well as acted as critiques of government policies and actions in favor of women rights and privileges.
In response to the effects of neoliberal policies and SAPs, the growth of transnational solidarity networks has ensued henceforth. Through public-consciousness-raising efforts residing in the Northern countries, activists’ networks have received numerous support and education of the Northern consumers. The NGOs on behalf of the maquiladora workers have advocated for consumer education.
Furthermore, rural and urban women groups have regrouped to solicit and supply the required health services, despite the national move to dismantle and privatize the services.
Because the women primarily provide the healthcare to the children, as the primary users, the trend in the global trade has caused deterioration in their health the world over. Consequently, the World Bank since early 1980s has intervened through healthcare-related initiatives by requiring the Third World countries to reduce population growth.
The suggestions from the World Bank were, however inconsiderate of the women’s social, economic and cultural situations. In implementing the introduction of user charges in hospitals and healthcare centers, the privatization would require the availability of affordable curative care and consumer drugs.
Through the initiative, the government will be capable of freely providing community services and public health to the poor once the rich have been made to pay. The privatization initiatives across the Third world countries has resulted in a reduction in the in the primary health services and delivery of services via private voluntary organizations and NGOs.
During meetings that sought to bring together local members and international network representatives, long time engagement between the participants was maintained. Consequently, women in the Asian, Latin American countries and the newly developed states benefit from education on certain aspects that are in force in the international arena but have not been implemented locally.
Through such informative occasional visitations, the local members will highly esteem their leaders considered as the informed and worthy of providing guidance and decisions whenever disagreements arise.
The Central American Network of Women in Solidarity with Women Workers in the Maquilas was formed by member women organizations on the northern border in 1996. In its first meeting, the network planned to set up different regional networks of women organizations to address the issues affecting the Maquilas.
The first meeting that was funded by the Canadian NGOs was held in El Salvador was autonomously represented by Guatemalan, Nicaraguan and El Salvador women groups.
Later it was joined by two groups from Honduras and Guatemala. In order for the meeting proceedings to benefit each country, the meeting network was rotated every six months with the role of each country changing as well. In outlining the social and labor reality of the affected women, the Networks represent the union, as an alternative to directly catering for the rights of women.
In contrast with the developed countries, the unequal status of women worldwide in addition to the deteriorating status of women was visible despite adopting the liberal modernization model as a path of development. In the common places such as the colonial countries in Africa, Asia and the Latin America, the roles of the United Nations changed from legal rights to social and economic empowerment of women.
Thus, in spite of their socially and economically challenged statuses, their positions and roles in the workplace were room for continued discrimination. Thus, the United Nations Development for Women (UNIFEM) was established and formalized in 1984 to fund women projects the world over.
The challenge of limited financial resources committed to both UNIFEM and INSTRAW proved detrimental in their efforts to emancipate women.
Retrospectively, women have lauded the international trade agreements, neoliberal policies and economic restructuring by established through their networks, traditional vehicles and transnational organizations. Examples such as the Ladies Garment Workers Union have enabled erection of cross-border organizations through global restructuring o national women organizations.
Similarly, in her chapter, Jennifer Mendez challenges the work of neoliberal policies and economic restructuring in their target to improve the living conditions of women workers in Maquila. Through the network NGOs, the workers information is channeled to their coordinators in the North to enable them understand and communicate to the public of the prevailing conditions back home.
Despite the benefits associated with transnational solidarities, some problems have been identified. Primly, the solidarities have been linked with existing inequalities emanating from domineering educated women from the South and the North.
Similarly, the solidarities cause national divisions between the minority elite in the networks against the majority women who are relatively poor. The continuous dependence of women from the Southern on the Northern funders and donors, presents another problem of the solidarities (Naples and Manisha).
In conclusion, women’s struggle for social, economic and political liberalization has been affected by the operations of international organizations, Non-governmental organizations and structural adjusted programs. Historically the women shelters and rape centers that provided help for abuse survivors have been improved into public advocacy and education centers.
In acknowledging gender balance in the business environment, laws that were enacted enabled the success of the women solidarity networks. Affordable and free healthcare for the community was implemented through the World Bank’s call for Third World countries to manage their population growths.
On their side, women activists encouraged members to participate in the international meetings in the process, encouraging locally arranged groups to enjoy the solidarity benefits. Unlike the developed countries, the inequality gap between the women groups has been progressively reduced through liberal modernization development paths.
However, the associated benefits of transnational solidarities and trade agreements have been faced by a number of problems. Hence women should reduce their overdependence on the foreign support from such organs as NGOs, and instead, strive to establish locally organized groups.
Through such initiatives, the plight of the women in the society will eventually be eradicated leveling the platform for both men and women to compete for the social, economic and political aspirations.
Naples, Nancy A., and Manisha Desai. Women’s Activism and Globalization Linking Local Struggles and Transnational Politics. New York: Routledge, 2002.