Globalization despite being seen as occurring “out there”, away from the daily lives and activities of women, the global economic and political effects have been evidenced in the struggles and lives of women and other members of the community the world over.
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Unfortunately, the problems have not been visibly detected due to the perspective of multinational corporations, transnational and international political organizations. As such problems faced across races, religions, sexualities, ethnicities, classes and political arenas
Fundamentally, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) aimed at attending to groups with inadequate resources, political influence or diverse membership. However, according to Sonia Alvarez’s concept of “Latin American feminist NGO boom,” a number of feminist NGOs change from advocates to professionals attending to the needs of neoliberal states. As a result feminist activists and scholarly accounts have been concerned of the problems during institutionalization and professionalization of feminist practice.
During the 1970s battered women’s shelters and rape crisis centers that were developed and expanded now indicate the success of feminist political activism the. However, the current women’s shelters and rape centers are sites for organized public advocacy, crisis intervention and community education targeting battered women, the elderly, abused survivors, rape victims and children, while availing supportive services and supportive services.
Although institutionalization of activism against women violence in the shelters and crisis centers has raised the dust against the continued vibrancy of the feminist antiviolence movement, Clare Weber contrastingly elaborates the importance of transnational feminist networks for publicizing the limits of national and local organizing against violence on women.
The meeting by Nicaraguan women with the U.S. antiviolence activists established the organizing strategies that streamlined on the limits of the U.S. approach to ending violence against women. However, it was evident for local activists to connect their organizing with the transnational movements, there is need to understand the institutional and network links among women participants in different areas.
Although structural adjusted programs (SAPs) and other neoliberal policies had become a key challenge, women forged back with transnational solidarity networks such as unions, NGOs and movements of local women working in EPZs and middle-class activists from the country and transnational NGOs and movements.
Additionally, increase in NGO-ization of women’s movements with reduced critique while increasing role participation as experts and implementers of government and donor’s programs. As a matter of fact, while some NGOs acted as fronts of government, others referred to as “hybrid NGOs” maintained links with while working within and outside the system. In addition to mobilizing for resources for empowerment of women, the NGOs also acted as critiques of government policies and actions.
The engagement of the activists is also maintained over time when meetings between international network representatives and local members are frequently held. Education on certain aspects that have not yet been implemented in the local arena, also helps motivate the women in the newly developed states and Asian, along Latin American countries.
Once in a while, the local representatives should be funded to visit their international counterparts, in an effort to convince them of the realities that prevail in the relatively advanced nations. As a result, their leadership positions in the home countries will be strengthened as they will be viewed as the enlightened participants; thus easing their tasks of convincing the misinformed citizens.
In addition to activist networks, empowering of women has been made possible by enacting laws that cater for gender balance in the business sector.
While most employers have to adhere to a balance in the workforce, the business opportunities have also been customized so as to allow for women to commence and operate any type of business previously dominated by their male counterpart. However, the challenge for single mothers or wives who are left to cater for the family single-handedly is associated with world increases in prices of food.
Because the mother’s should first ensure the children are well fed before they can consume their meals, instances of malnutrition were reported. As a result, women groups in Zimbabwe, India and other countries pushed for the growth of the public distribution system to provide subsidized food for the rural and urban poor. Other women groups affiliated with the World Food Program also ensured that children and women got the minimum food for sustenance.
Another example of a network is the Central American Network of Women in Solidarity with Women Workers in the Maquilas, which was formed in 1996 formed by member women organizations on the northern boarder. The network during its first meeting decided to establish different regional networks of women’s organizations meant to work on issues affecting the maquilas.
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The first meeting that was held in El Salvador under the funding of a Canadian Nongovernmental organization (NGO) was autonomously represented by women groups from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala; eventually being joined by two other Guatemalan groups and Honduras. With meeting of the Network taking place every six months, and each country’s role rotated each time, the happenings of the meeting would evenly contribute towards the member countries’ prosperity.
Additionally, with visitors openly invited for these meetings as the events of the Network are discussed, the maquila workers are bound to benefit eventually. The Network was considerate of women contending that union movements exclude them from the decision-making position; especially the expected maquila women workers whose agendas are the bases of founding the movements, networks and groups.
However, despite the negative labels on unions, certain Network participants share active and friendly relationships with particular unions, but the tense relations with labor movements are openly known. Therefore, the Network alternatively represents the union because it outlines the social and labor reality of the affected women.
Once the rights fro women had been secured, their position within the workplace was next. Unlike in the recently developed countries, the unequal status of women worldwide and the deteriorating status of women in the colonial countries in Asia and Africa along with Latin American countries was noticeable despite having adopted the path to development through the liberal modernization model.
At this point, the efforts of the UN were shifted from legal rights to economic and social empowerment of women. In addition to the challenge that women were economically and socially challenged, their roles and positions within the workplace projected another facet for their discrimination.
In order to ensure that the position of women within organizations was guaranteed, there was need to quickly strengthen the woman; hence empowering her socially and economically within the society. Therefore, the establishment of the United Nations Development for Women (UNIFEM), upon its formalization in 1984, was aimed at funding women projects around the world. However, both UNIFEM and INSTRAW upon implementation were limited by resources committed to them.
Women in response to neoliberal policies, economic restructuring and international trade agreements, have organized through networks, transnational organizations and traditional vehicles for instance the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
Additionally, cross-border organizations have been attained through global restructuring on national women organizations. In Central America, for example, Jennifer Bickham Mendez’s chapter challenges the work of economic structuring and neoliberal policies and politics in improving the living conditions of women workers in Maquila.
Specifically, information on the women’s conditions of work, categories of products, rate of work that they are expected to deliver, their relationships with the supervisors/managers, and for which transnational corporations they work for. Once the information is collected, it is channeled through the network of NGOs and transmitted to the groups working in the North for them to understand and communicate to the public concerning the conditions.
Similarly, Marina Karides’s chapter looks at transnational activism and organizing efforts of domestic workers. Through, Trinidad’s National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE) women casual workers have had their rights protected through the global rhetoric and international agreements requiring governments to be accountable at home.
In an effort to push governments that did not address the women’s grievances, the activists contacted government ministries concerning their international commitment stressing on the importance of the link between local and international injustices. Eventually, their efforts through the public shaming were able to get their interests addressed although to date not all the issues have been addressed.