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Sweatshops and Third World Poverty Essay


The economic, political, and social situation of countries varies with geographical locations and rate of development in an economy; with the differences, countries have been classified as developing and developed countries.

Further division of countries according to their economic well being have resulted to three main classifications as first, second, and third world countries; each classification has its unique characteristics. Despite globalization and international trade, third world countries have continued to lag behind economically; they suffer from lack of basic human needs and inequality in resource distribution is evident.

There has been debates concerning global labor practices which seems to vary according to different economies; inequality in labor distributions, sweetshops policies, and equal representation in work places. This paper addresses the issue of sweatshops and third world poverty; it will discuss the issue by reviewing four journals written by different authors on matters relating the topic of discussion.

Literature review

According to Onora O’Neill in the article “Kantian Formula of The End In Itself And World Hunger”, the world has potential to take care of the population that it hold only if the available resources are managed and used effectively. The writer observes that capitalism can have resulted to some of the world issues.

The writers argues that the fundamental principle that organizations, people, and the government should use is that they should respect other people and not use them as mere means of attaining their goals and objectives on life. The principle further suggests that it should be universally accepted that people should be used as the ends.

When discussing the issues and the principles, the writer is more concerned on the word “mere”, he illustrates that people can use others for to attain what they are up to in life; for example an employee will definitely use his employer to attain his life goals and on the other side the employer uses the employee to make profits. The word mere is used to mean using the person to do some actions that in a rational situation the person cannot give consent.

In the debates for use of sweatshops, they can be interpolated for taking humanity for granted; organizations like multinationals may take advantage of the poverty situation in a country or population and offer them works at low rates. The action is unaccepted when it is done with malice and for the larger benefit of one party; in some third world countries, multinationals are using the people as mere workers without changing their poverty situations. This should be condemned and taken as a violation of human rights and freedoms.

When supporting the second Kantian Formula principle the writer is of the opinion that labor markets and resources allocation and distribution should be free of false promise, fraud, deception, violence, coercion and rape; with the above parameters are not existing, then parties to a transactions are likely to benefit equally (Onora, 1993).

According To Denis G. Arnold in the article “Moral Reasoning, Human Rights And Global Labor Practices”, suggests that international labor laws have some directions that are in the form of rights and fundamental freedoms that must be respected by domestic and international companies. According to the article, the rights can be molded further by different countries as they seek to expand their citizen’s enjoyments of humanity.

International labor laws advocate for equality in opportunity allocations where industrial relations define the relationship that exists between an employer, his employees, and third parties like trade unions and the government.

The terms of service and conditions of work that an employee works within should be well defined; according to the author to eradicate poverty in third world countries, there is need to have equal distribution of resources and opportunities; when this is attained them people can start coming up with developmental projects.

In case of disputes, a framework of solving the dispute should be put in place. Certain industries require different relations, for example in airline industry over and above ones remuneration, there is a mileage allowance, and this is special to such industries and defined by association and trade unions that a company engages in.

When discussing about the role of multinationals in developing countries and the way they treat the economies, the writers are of the opinion that to avoid negative outcomes and promote the spirit of international corporation, the companies should work within the constraints of developing counties economies and social conditions. Other than respecting the hosting nation’s ideologies, they should be respecting world-wide concern for ways in which workers are treated (Arnold, 2003) .

One issue that is recurring in third world economies is that when fighting for rights, there is always a sacrificial group, when today’s women are included in these low paying jobs, they will create an avenue to future girl child, as they are involved in production, men will note that they are equally and sometimes more productive than men and thus in the future, they will trust them with higher responsibilities. the sacrificial aspect is manifested by sweatshops which some multinationals seems to have well perfected.

This has given them exposure and experience that they require to establish their own small businesses which has resulted to their financial empowerment.

It is ethical and morally accepted that employers should value and respect their employees, as long as this is required under international labor laws, Denis G. Arnold challenges employers that they have the mandate of paying their employees well and not making them sweatshops. Employees working environment also should be in the forefront of the issues that should be considered by employers, they should ensure that employees are in a favorable environment.

When commenting on poverty in third world countries, the writer seems to be of the opinion that if structures are well developed and defended, then the available workforce should be able to take care of their expenses. The writer notes that in developing countries the rate of dependency coupled with low wage rate can be blamed for an seemingly unending poverty.

Ian Maitland in the article “The Great Non-Debate Over International Sweatshops” makes his contribution in the ranging debates whether sweatshops should be the way forward to eradication of poverty in third world countries. According to the article, the writer is of the opinion that some multinationals are taking advantage of poverty rate in third world countries and offering them jobs that cannot really assist them.

On the other end, supporters of the ideology are of the view that it is an entry point through which in-experienced third world population can get exposure and develop skills to assist them in other works. Sweatshops policies are some of the policies made in some countries to increase women employment to informal and formal sectors; some scholars are of the opinion that when third world economies, embrace this move their economies will adjust to this economic policy; then with time, they will feel they can move without them.

For example some scholars have suggested that using sweatshops women can be incorporated in formal and informal jobs and give their hand in economic developments in third world countries. When they get the exposure, they can fight for their rights of equality from better and stronger platforms.

When these rights are respected, this is the start point of women empowerment. Despite campaigns in developed and developing countries aimed at creating awareness and respect for women rights, their participation in employment remains low. International human rights fights for equality in men and women, their employment act says women should be given equal opportunities; it is of the opinion that at least a third of a company’s employees should be women (Maitland ,2000)

According to Ian Maitland, the main challenge that using sweatshops has is that they are likely to create a form of slavery among the people used; for example a country that offers room for sweatshops can suffer from multinationals who constantly use the cheap labor and never upgrade the workers status; in such a case instead of benefiting the economy they end up injuring it.

Pietra Rivoli in the article “Labor Standards In The Global Economy” is of the opinion that employers should have high values to their employees, they should understands the provisions of international labor laws.

Although international laws do not make laws that are applicable in all spheres, they should offer a rich background for making human resources decisions. Other than observing international labor laws, multinationals and domestic countries should ensure that they understand local legislations that are enacted to protect the rights of employees.

In those countries that have managed to have defined working conditions, wage rates regulation and industrial relations specifications, companies should be iwlling to abide with such laws. Different countries are more likely to have different labor standards thus it is the mandate of human resources management to ensure the policies of a host country have been observed effectively (Rivoli, 2003).

Sweatshops and poverty in Third world countries

Although globalization has had many benefits, it has not been able to encompass all sectors; it has resulted to misuse of human beings as they work to produce for their employer. Multinationals are blamed to a large extent with the prevailing rate of Sweatshops, the venture into developing countries, use their resources but pay the workers poorly; this increases the poverty situation of the nations.

Many nations continue to experience regional disparities. Poverty rates are still high in sub-Sahara Africa although there has been a fall in its rates in South and East Asia. Statistics from the United Nations (UN) shows that about one billion people live on less than one dollar per day and about 2.6 billion live on less than two dollars; these areas are suffering from low wage rate by multinationals who record billion dollar profits.

Today almost all nations depend on the global economy thus there should have emphasis on sanity of the global economy. Governments are finding it difficult to respond to their domestic issues as their used to do. There are many trade agreements that influence the performance of member countries which put restrictions on the use of their monetary policies. These governments have to rely on the international monetary fund for regulations.

Poor nations are becoming poorer day in day out because of the low comparative advantage they have in the international trade. They have to rely on the World Bank for aids and grants for development. To curb this, the Doha Development Agenda was launched but it has to yet been accepted. Unless it is accepted, the poor nationals will continue to suffer at the expense of the rich nations which have developed economies and comparative advantage in terms of trade (Rivoli, 2003).


Although multinationals, public and private institutions benefits an economy; there is need to adopt international labor standards in employees; the concept of free trade should be embraced where after certain venture, parties involved stand to benefit.

Fair trade is an ethical concept where in case of trade there is mutual benefit between the producer, employees, sellers, and consumers benefit from a certain production. It emphasis on equality in benefits and sometimes dangers caused by a production process; sometimes fair trade is used to refer to how producers are paid, the level of quality of production and efforts made to restore nature.

There are different international organizations which support fair trade, they include (FLO), created in 1997 and (formerly the International Fair Trade Association); such organizations should be reinforced to ensure there is sanity in the global business arenas. When such policies are enacted, third world countries will gain from their economic and human resourced.


Denis, G.(2003). Moral Reasoning, Human Rights, and Global Labor Practices. Westport : Praeger.

Maitland, I.(2000). The Great Non-Debate Over International Sweatshops. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2000.

Onora, O. (1993). Kantian Formula of the End in Itself and World Hunger. New York: McGraw’s.

Rivoli, P. (2003). Labor Standards in the Global Economy: Issues for investors. Journal of Business Ethics, 43(1), 223-232.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Sweatshops and Third World Poverty'. 28 November.

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